OTC Elite's McNamara claims Fifth Avenue Mile title

Oregon Track Club Elite's Jordan McNamara wins 2014 Fifth Avenue Mile
OTC Elite's Jordan McNamara raises his left arm in victory at the 2014 Fifth Avenue Mile, edging Garrett Heath (center) and Paul Robinson. (Photo courtesy NYRR)

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Jordan McNamara put an exclamation point on an outstanding 2014 season with a come-from-behind victory at the 34th annual Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City on Saturday.

McNamara, the former University of Oregon standout, used a last-second lean to win the prestigious race in a time of 3 minutes, 51.0 seconds.

In a photo finish, the 26-year-old McNamara edged runner-up Garrett Heath, who was also timed in 3:51.0, Ireland’s Paul Robinson (3:51.1) and Kenya’s Augustine Choge (3:51.2).

“I thought I was in second place until the last three steps,” McNamara told Chris Lotsbom of Race Results Weekly. “To cross first against a great field, it’s a real privilege.”

McNamara joins a long list of past U.S. winners: UO alum Matthew Centrowitz, Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb, Jason Lunn, Jason Pyrah, Ron Harris, Steve Scott, Tom Byers and Sydney Maree. Centrowitz, the 2012 Fifth Avenue Mile champion, placed sixth overall on Saturday at 3:52.4.

Elsewhere, Ryan Hill and Daniel Huling of the Bowerman Track Club finished fifth and seventh, respectively, at 3:52.3 and 3:52.9. OTC Elite’s Ciaran O’Lionaird was 10th in 3:54.3 and Ben Blankenship was 15th in 3:57.8.

For McNamara, this was his third road mile triumph of the season. Earlier, he won the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile in Pittsburgh and the Festival of Miles in St. Louis.

He also performed well on the track, winning the 1,500 meters at the USATF High Performance Distance Classic in Los Angeles in May and the Run TrackTown High Performance Meet at Hayward Field in July.

“I hope it just solidifies my place in American distance running,” McNamara said. “And I hope people really take me seriously because I’ve got my eyes on (the Olympics in) 2016.”

On the women’s side, American Jenny Simpson claimed her third title in the past four years by holding off Brenda Martinez with a winning time of 4:19.4. It was the eighth time in history that U.S. runners swept both races.

Martinez was second in 4:19.6.

Other local finishers were Nike Oregon Project’s Jordan Hasay (8th, 4:23.9), Treniere Moser (9th, 4:24.3) and Mary Cain (10th, 4:25.5). OTC Elite’s Sally Kipyego placed 14th in 4:29.4.

McNamara and Simpson each collected $5,000 for their first-place performances.