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Millrose 4x400m Race Report

Millrose 4x400m Race Report

The 2019 Millrose Games took place this past Saturday, February 9th at the Armory in NYC. For those who don’t know, this indoor track & field competition has been held every year in NYC since 1908 and is considered by many to be the nation’s greatest indoor meet.

The meet brings Olympic, collegiate, high school, junior, and masters athletes together to compete on a single track one Saturday each year. It’s eight hours of track and field paradise with great music, enthusiastic commentary, and a lively crowd.

I was fortunate to get the opportunity to compete with my friends this year in the master’s 4x400m relay. We competed as part of the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and had two relay teams entered into a single race (40+ and 50+). The rest of the race report is a mashup of commentary from different members of the team.

Men’s 40+ 4x400m Team:

  • John Goldthorp
  • Brock Butler
  • Delvin Dinkins
  • Rob Schwartz

Men’s 50+ 4x400m Team:

  • John Curtis
  • Chuck Kruelle
  • Bruce Rash
  • Nick Damalas
The Armory in NYC

Warmup

DELVIN: We arrived at the parking lot at 9:50, in time for a 10:00 meet-up on this rather frigid day in the 30s. Our event, Masters Men’s 40-49 and 50+ 4×400 meter relay, was scheduled for 12:29. We organized ourselves, following the usual routine of Chuck divvying out runner’s bibs, pins, and wrist tickets. We made our way to the draped arena and hung out for a while, some of us going here and there, to and fro. Knowing the track was scheduled to close for warmups at 11:00, I started my mile warm up at about 10:45. A few laps in I found myself with John Goldthorp, Brock Butler, Chuck Kruelle, and perhaps a couple other teammates. It felt good to warm up together…as a team. I stretched on the infield until we were asked to clear the track areas, which was at about 11:05.

BROCK: Whew. The Armory felt much different than it did on December 30th when we raced here. The Millrose Games is a big deal! Tons of energy and excitement in the building. So glad I had teammates to lean on for support and levity.

JOHN G: Unlike warming up for your local 5K or even a big city marathon, a big track meet like Millrose requires athletes to be ‘ready to go’ quite a bit of time prior to the start of their race. So, it’s a case of warm up, but then wait 30 minutes. Ironic, because you’d prefer to be quite warm and ready just before an all-out 400m! Personally, I was somewhat concerned that I’d deadened my legs a bit having just returned from a Park City ski trip on Thursday. Prior to a track race, I’d prefer to feel bouncy with a lot of pop in my stride. Skiing doesn’t exactly promote that! Fortunately, the shakeout jog with the guys and the atmosphere of the meet gave me some juice I surely wouldn’t have had if I tried to run a hard 400m on my own.

Getting our act together pre-race

Pre-Race

DELVIN: We sat in the stands for a while, deciding we’d head down to the balmy corridor on the second floor at 11:25. We reported to the check-in on the bottom floor as scheduled, 35 minutes before race time. As we waited, knowing the 50s were going to be on the back line and the 40s would be on the front line, my mind played around some with the race plan. Since Rob had mentioned his sore hamstring to me the other day, we switched the order so that he, rather than I, would anchor. I was hoping this would pan out as the best option. I continued visualize how I was going to attack the race. In the gathering area, I started to feel a little oddity in my hamstring. I was like argh! Then, as I continued to move around and do sprint drills, the feel subsided, and with that release came optimism. I still knew Southwest-40s would be untouchable, but all the other teams, even Southwest’s 50s team, were fair game.

BROCK: Not an easy race to warm up for. Given the fridged temps and wind outside we opted to stay indoors and warm up with 100 other people in a tiny hallway. Then I did micro laps (about 20 meters) around an educational display downstairs while we waited.

JOHN G: Sorta felt like gladiators getting ready before being paraded out to the arena. A lot of pent up energy and serious faces. Everyone looked fit and fast. Like, you looked around and it woulda been easy to get psyched out. Luckily, it wasn’t my first rodeo. LET’S GO.

Quick warmup on the track before they started the meet

Race Time

DELVIN: Then we lined up. Dry mouth kicked in. Thankfully, Rob had water on hand to share. We were called trackside as the Mixed Men’s 60+/Women’s 40+ finished up. We were up! One heat. Alley start, 50s on back line, 40s on front line. Two turn stagger. John Goldthorp was lead off! Lane 10 of 11. To his left were Andrew Hogue of CPTC, Mark Williams of Garmin, and Rawle DeLisle of SW; to his right was Quinn Pack of Mass Velocity.

BROCK: Thanks Rob for the water! Mouth was also really dry and heart was beating fast. Breathe. Breathe. Better.

JOHN G: Again, Rob saved the day with his 3 oz. (lol) water bottle. Oh shit, I’m leadoff! Never led off before! Bruce and Delvin gave me solid advice about getting out hard and boosted my confidence, reminding me I’m stronger than most. So, go with the pace and trust my strength. Easier said than done when all you can do is think back to high school when you rigged up in the last 80m… every… time. But I’m a different runner now!

John Goldthorp on the big screen!

First Leg

DELVIN: The gun went off…and then the guys were called back. Seems teammate John Curtis jumped the gun a bit. Try #2 was a fair start. As expected, everyone got out aggressively. Big John was in second at the break, while John G was I fifth but gaining. The second lap saw SW extend the lead, but Mark, Andrew, John C., and Getulio Echeandia of SW battling out. A big move by Getulio sealed the deal. Coming down the homestretch, as I had predicted, John G. finished up powerfully and pulled even with John at the handoff.

BROCK: 400 meters goes by very fast. Before I know it I’m running onto the track to try and find a good position to receive the baton. As John G pulls up even with John C, I end up squeezing in just behind Chuck Kruelle, my teammate. There’s barely any room to move by John G finds me and somehow I break free with the baton unscathed.

JOHN G: Oh, hey camera that feeds the stadium big screen. You looking at me? Tried not to look directly at the camera. Played it cool. Maybe flexed the biceps a little. GUN! Got out kinda hard, but not hard enough. OH SNAP these cats are quick! Luckily, there was a false start and (it wasn’t me) and I’ll happily take another crack at this. GUN AGAIN! This time I went all in. Still got dusted a little bit coming off the line, but not terrible. Hung on the the back of the lead pack for dear life, feeling nearly out of control, wondering what my first lap split was. Felt quick! Tried to stay relaxed and smooth despite fatigue rapidly mounting. Kept John C in my sights and pulled up to him by the exchange. With 11 teams lined up on a 6 lane track, it was a TIGHT squeeze to pass off to Brock, but we nailed it and just like that I was finished.

JOHN C: I love running first leg but I knew with 11 teams on a 6 lane track things were going to get hectic very fast. Since I had the #2 position next to SWS I was going to overtake him in 5 to 7 steps and set the pace for our group and not lose touch with M40. At the 200M meter mark, team Garmins leadoff took an angle that put him in elbows reach so I reached out and touched him. At 250M we were a tight group of 3. The bumping continued but it was to my rear as my trail leg was continually getting clipped. At 300M SWS feared we were all going to fall, he went around the fray. At this point I was exhausted and just wanted to get through the last 75M and handoff. I looked up the track with 50 to go and to my surprise I saw to red and blue blurs standing very close together. I figured if I held the baton in the air, someone would take it. Luckily there were no falls during the exchanges. I got some speed endurance work to do and I’ll be ready for Penns. I love running with guys that will fight fight fight!

Second Leg

DELVIN: Brock ran an even, seemingly effortless leg. He cut into lead of CPTC and Garmin, handing me the baton with a hair of a lead on them and within 10 meters of Clinton Aurelien.

BROCK: This was not effortless. I took off faster than I’m comfortable with in an attempt to chase down CPTC, Garmin, and Central Mass. I didn’t make up much ground until the 2nd 200m when they started slowing down a little more quickly than I was slowing down. I finally pulled up the shoulders of CPTC at the final turn and I used the momentum of the banked track to pull up to Garmin just as I handed the baton to Delvin.

JOHN G: I knew I didn’t have to worry about Brock. Dude’s a stud! Stumbled off the track and tried to find a place to watch. Regained consciousness in time to see him pass off to Delvin. Psyched to see GPTC fighting for a top place!

Third Leg

DELVIN: I created some daylight between me and Garmin and CPTC, heading for Clinton. I put my head down a little and found that, at the 100-mark, I was within maybe 4-5 meters of Clinton. I closed the gap a little more by the 200-meter mark. At this point, I was trying to decide what to do. And I decided a few meters too late: I went to make a pass on the outside on the backstretch, but I ran out of real estate. I had to tuck back into lane 1, some of my energy depleted. I should have started my push at the top of the turn rather than on the backstretch. At any rate, Clinton maintained a 2-3-meter lead as we handed off.

BROCK: Delvin looked really smooth and strong.

JOHN G: Yo Delvin! Looking good! Relieved the hammy held up. Awesome job locking down the silver medal position.

Fourth Leg

DELVIN: Nursing a sore hamstring, Rob finished the race in 3:48.64. Although I truly believed we could have run in the mid-3:40s, second place among the 40s teams was pretty good. Our 50s squad finished with silver as well.

BROCK: Delvin put some good daylight between us and the 3rd place team. Rob did well to hold our position. Really impressed by the two anchor legs for SW Sprinters. 51 and 53 seconds!

JOHN G: Really proud of Rob for securing the silver for GPTC and for seeing him come back from injury. Yeah, damn, SW Sprinters were impressive!

Post-Race Analysis

DELVIN: The results page indicates the following splits for our 40s team:

  • John G: 56.84 (-1) (hopefully to come down two seconds by Penn)
  • Brock B: 54.50 — (hopefully come down a second by Penn or at least remain the same given Boston Marathon training)
  • Delvin D.: 55.23 — OK time given hamstring (need to come down a second or so by Penn)
  • Rob S.: 62.09 (-4) (hopefully come down five seconds by Penn)
  • …And then there’s John C. (Could we be looking at four legs at below 55?)

BROCK: Super-fun competition. Happy to run sub-55. Didn’t feel that fast. I think I can continue to improve once I get beyond my marathon training.

JOHN G: This was a total blast and, never thought I’d say it, but I’m excited to be 40 and able to compete with you guys! I promise to not crush moguls, powder, and Moscow Mules just before Penn, guys. My goal is to go sub 54 at Penn. Y’all heard it here first!

7/8th of the team posing with medals (the other 1/8th was having lunch with family)
5/4th of the 40+ team

Post-Race Fun

DELVIN: We watched some more races and then headed to Coogans a bit after 5:00 for an early dinner. We had an awesome time hanging’ out. It was great that Carl Stocking and Wayne Foulke came out to support the team, Wayne prepared to step in as alternate for either age group.

BROCK: The whole family was present to support me and the team: Kids, wife, and parents. We were entertained by the remainder of track meet which proved to be exciting, with lots of records and close finishes. My son was super-engaged and managed to score a flower bouquet from shot put winner Ryan Crouser when he made eye contact from 20 meters away. Ryan had the longest indoor shot put throw in 11 years (worldwide!).

All smiles after catching the bouquet. Wouldn’t let it go the rest of the day.
Profile Photo

Brock Butler

Coach & co-founder

Brock is an athletic coach and elite competitor who focuses on running events from 1-mile track races up to 100-mile ultramarathons. He won the 40+ masters division at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2017, the Blues Cruise 50K Trail Ultra race the same year, and the USATF Masters 3000m Indoor nationals and Cherry Blossom 10 mile race in 2018.

Brock’s passion is helping athletes of all ages gain satisfaction and confidence by fully expressing their potential as a runner. He started Run Expression, Team Run Xpress, and the Runner’s Toolkit to provide athlete education, coaching services, and a social community in the Philly region.

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