Birthday girl Heather celebrates in style
Heather Kampf ushered in her 26th birthday with a hard fought victory in last night’s KPMG Invitational Elite Women’s Mile.
The Minnesota resident hit the tape in 4:49 to finish ahead of nearest rivals Sarah Brown (4:50.7) and Phoebe Wright (4:53.45) as American runners swept the podium.
Bermuda’s Tamika Williams, still recovering from a bout of flu, finished fifth in the field of eight runners in a personal best time of 5:06.34.
With last year’s winner Korene Hinds unable to defend her crown as she’s pregnant, Kampf and Brown fought tooth and nail for the Jamaican’s vacant crown in a thrilling race that went right down to the wire.
Kampf made her move with a long driving kick 300 metres from the finish and managed to cover her compatriot the rest of the way to win the event at the first attempt.
The American one mile road champion attributed her latest triumph to the extra mileage she had put in over the past year.
“Last year I did a lot of road miles which has really brought a lot of momentum to my career and it’s great to celebrate the start of the year with this one (victory),” she told
The Royal Gazette.
Kampf and Brown broke away from the lead bunch at the 800 metre mark, effectively reducing the race to a two-horse battle.
“Sarah and I took the lead together and it really felt like we were working together which was nice,” Kampf said. “Around 300 metres to go I decided to start making a move but Sarah covered it and I thought she might have had it, but then the momentum shifted so I just gave it all I had. Sarah put in a big surge but I covered it right at the end.
“The race was really fun and tomorrow (today) is my birthday so being in Bermuda is my birthday present and winning the race is the cherry on top.”
Kampf’s time was well shy of the 4:27 she ran last year.
Also satisfied with her performance on the night was Bermuda’s Williams in what was her first appearance in the Elite Mile in nearly a decade.
“I had the flu bug earlier in the week so to be able to come back tonight and do a decent race was a great feeling,” she said. “I imagined these girls were going to go out pretty fast and they were very steady. But it was good to be able to stay with them and I’m excited I got to be in this race and run my best time ever.”
Capturing line honours in the Adult Local Women’s Mile was Ireland’s Rose-Anna Hoey in a personal best time of 5:09.92. Three-time winner Jennifer Alen (5:14.17) and past Bermuda Day Half-Marathon champ Deon Breary (5:41.25) rounded off the podium finishers.
Hoey and Alen swapped the lead multiple times during the race before the former’s relentless pace took its toll on her English rival towards the end.
“It was an unbelievable race and I’ve never felt so intense in my life,” Hoey said. “I always say I’m not a short distance runner but I seemed to find it somewhere inside me tonight.”
She added: “My plan was to pick up the pace from the 600 metre mark and the only advantage I’d have is the endurance side of things because I’m more of a longer distance runner. But Jennifer came and we started fighting and nearly at the end I closed my eyes and didn’t even know where she was I just ran for the line.”
Alen, whose time was her fastest on this course, appeared to be on her way to a fourth win in this event before Hoey shifted into another gear when it mattered most.
“We were just sort of picking up the pace and then at the end there she just went and I was just like ‘okay’,” she said.
Like Williams, Breary managed to record a personal best time while recovering from the flu.
“I had the flu just before Christmas which was a setback for me because I wasn’t able to train for two weeks,” she said. “But I’m really happy with my time.”