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Fast Friday Unfolds At Falmouth Track Festival

Records fall at annual invitational mile meet during ASICS Falmouth Road Race Weekend

FALMOUTH, Mass. – History was made under the lights at the Falmouth Track Festival Friday night. With a large crowd on the front stretch and a strong headwind on the backstretch, the event record in the women’s elite mile, which had stood since 2002, was shattered in a thrilling sprint finish between two of America’s emerging track and field stars.

The penultimate race of the evening was taken out by pacer Kate Mitchell who led the field through the first lap in 66 seconds with Laurie Barton on her heels and opening a small separation on the rest of the women. Barton was the leader when Mitchell stepped off the track just over halfway, but Emily Mackay and Dani Jones had closed the gap. The pair soon overtook Barton with Mackay the leader at the bell and Jones right on her shoulder. With 100 meters to go, Jones, a three-time NCAA champion, tried to make a move but Mackay unleashed a kick that proved to be unmatchable. She broke the tape in 4:23.79, eclipsing the record of 4:25.27 set by Suzy Favor Hamilton in the inaugural year of the Falmouth Track Festival.

“It was very nerve-racking. I could see her shadow,” Mackay said of Jones. “I was going off feel tonight and I just felt right.”

The time is a personal best for Mackay, who lives and trains in Boston. She takes home $5,000 for the win plus a $1,500 for breaking the course record.

A near-photo finish in the men’s elite race followed the excitement of the women’s event. The pacer, Andy Bayer, took the pack of 16 men out in 57 seconds with Henry Wynne, Johnny Gregorek, Abe Alvarado and Sam Prakel leading the charge behind him. Wynne stayed tucked behind Bayer through 809 meters with the clock hitting 1:56. When Bayer stepped off, Wynne was doing the work up front, maintaining the lead into the final lap. With half a lap to go, it was a two-man race between Wynne and Gregorek and they were shoulder-to-shoulder sprinting toward the finish. With a final push, Gregorek, a native of Seekonk, Massachusetts, out leaned Wynne to take the victory by just over one-tenth of a second. Gregorek’s winning time of 3:53.57 is the second fastest time in event history.

“You have to make sure you get out fast,” said Gregorek who also earned a time-bonus for breaking 3:56. “But I have a lot of faith in my last lap.”

15 of the race’s 16 finishers broke 4:00.

Both the men’s and women’s wheelchair races were wire-to-wire wins for the defending champions. Susannah Scaroni, perhaps the most dominant woman in the sport right now, lead from the gun winning in 3:53.79, 42 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Hannah Babalola. In the men’s race, Daniel Romanchuck, a four-time ASICS Falmouth Road Race winner, clocked 3:18.53 to win by 29 seconds over Miguel Jiminez Vergara. Both Scaroni and Romanchuck will attempt to defend their seven-mile titles on Sunday.

The Falmouth Track Festival kicked off with the annual Tommy Cochary High School Mile, featuring some of the best high school runners in the state of Massachusetts. Dana Lehr, a rising junior at Belmont High School took the lead from the gun and never looked back. By halfway she had a ten-second lead. Lehr went on to win in 5:02. Kaylie Dalgar, a senior at Pentucket High School was second in 5:15.08.

“I’m happy with my time,” said Lehr who set a personal best of 4:56.81 earlier this summer. “I just wanted to come and see how I felt and I felt pretty good.”

The boy’s race couldn’t have played out more differently with three boys taking turns in the lead. Alex Friedman was the early leader, taking the field through in 66 seconds. Hometown favorite Silas Gartner of Falmouth High School made a run for the front at 600m, but was never able to shake Friedman and South Milton’s Alec Carew. Just before the bell lap, Friedman moved back into the lead and Carew went with him. Lexington High School’s Joseph Ryan moved into third. With 200m to go, Carew and Ryan blew past Friedman. Carew, the fastest athlete in the field, turned on his kick cruising to victory in 4:25.76, two seconds ahead of Ryan.

“The idea was to make my move with 250 meters to go,” said Carew. “I felt comfortable hanging back in second a letting them do the work for me.”

The Falmouth Road Race was established in 1973 and has become one of the premier running events of the summer season. Each year the race draws an international field of Olympians, elite athletes, and recreational runners to enjoy the iconic 7-mile seaside course. The nonprofit Falmouth Road Race organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.