By Giorgio Montenegro
The setting was immaculate as the runners of the 2014 Blue Shoes Mile took their positions before the race Saturday night. The meet, up to that point, had featured many record-breaking performances, but everyone knew the main event had yet to come.
Once the gun sounded, the runners took off, with the rabbit (the pace setter, who is not an official competitor in the event) setting a quick pace for the group in hopes of providing an opportunity for one of the runners to break the record for fastest mile ever run in the state of South Carolina. The record was previously set at this event last year when multiple runners clocked sub-four minute miles.
The runners could not keep up with the quick pace of the rabbit heading into the third lap and slowed their pace throughout that lap. However, once the bell lap started the runners knew a record was on the line and concurrently accelerated into a sprint on the final lap. Although there was not a new record, six of the 13 competitors finished the race in less than four minutes, with the winner, Furman Elite’s Michael Hammond, finishing in a blazing 3:57:70.
The main event did not disappoint and overall the Paladins had a great meet. First place finishes and meet records were garnered by Sinead Haughey in the women’s 5,000 meters, Tripp Hurt in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Tanner Hinkle in the men’s 5,000 meters. Freshman Brock Baker also ran an impressive race amongst the professionals in the Blue Shoes Mile with a time of 4:07:08.
The great performances at this meet are a testament to the competitive environment that has grown at Furman in the distance events since Coach Robert Gary’s arrival and also give a preview for the greatness to come out of Furman’s growing program.