Friday February 14, 2014Gators senior Cory McGee ready for speed test in Wanamaker Mile
Updated: 7:09am, February 14
Updated: 7:09am, February 14
Gators senior Cory McGee will run indoors Saturday in the historic Wanamaker Mile in New York.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Wanamaker Mile is an event that transcends the track and field community.
For more than 90 years the race was held at Madison Square Garden as part of the Millrose Games. The location has changed but the Wanamaker remains a staple on the New York City sports calendar.
On Saturday afternoon at the 168th Street Armory in Upper Manhattan, with a live national TV audience watching on the NBC Sports Network, Gators senior distance runner Cory McGee will fulfill another dream in her distinguished career.
McGee is running in the Wanamaker.
"Still being in college, I definitely feel like I have something to prove,'' McGee said Thursday afternoon after her Florida History class ended. "You want to run fast and you want to win. It's going to be set up for it to be fast, and it's also so iconic that everybody going for the win. You get both of those pressures."
McGee is no stranger to the Millrose Games, an annual track and field festival in New York that began in 1908.
During her prep career in Pass Christian, Miss., McGee competed in the high-school mile at the Millrose Games four consecutive years. She finished third the first three years before winning as a senior in 2010.
McGee was enthralled by the event's energy, the world-class competition and the passion of the fans at Madison Square Garden.
When an invitation arrived to compete in the Wanamaker Mile this year, she said yes quicker than she could lace up her running shoes.
"Any chance to run in the Millrose Games I'm going to take because it's my absolute favorite indoor meet," McGee said. "Winning that my senior year of high school is probably my favorite race in all of high school."
McGee is Florida's record-holder in the 1,500 meters and was the bronze medalist at last summer's USA Outdoor Championships. She is one of 13 runners scheduled to compete in the women's Wanamaker on Saturday, including last year's runner-up, 17-year-old sensation Mary Cain.
Cain recently turned pro and trains under marathon legend Alberto Salazar. She is the American high-school record holder in the mile and a celebrity in the track and field world.
McGee expects Cain to set the pace on Saturday in a field that is a mix of professional and amateur runners.
"She will be the favorite I think,'' McGee said. "She has put down the fastest marks so far this season. She was one of the other 1,500 runners I was with over the summer with Team USA. It's really impressive what she has done in the sport so far."
Cain finished last year's event in 4 minutes, 28.25 seconds, second to winner Shelia Reid (4:27.02) by little more than a second.
McGee, whose best time in the indoor mile is 4:32.10, trained rigorously over the Christmas break and said she feels stronger than she has ever felt. Her training routine was thrown two weeks ago when she got sick and couldn't run for a couple of days.
When she resumed training, McGee tweaked her hamstring. She felt back to full speed on Wednesday during a strenuous workout and is confident she can put up a good time on Saturday.
"The last week has been recovery and I haven't been able to hit it as hard as I usually would,'' she said. "But I feel perfectly fine. I feel like everything is back on track, just a little bump in the road."
While the Gators' distance runners are in Seattle this weekend at the Husky Classic, McGee opted to head east.
She is a stranger to the Wanamaker, but not the excitement that surrounds the event and the Millrose Games.
"My whole class [in high school] would get together and watch it,'' she said. "It's kind of like a similar feeling. I've always loved the Millrose Games so much. It just feels like I'm supposed to go there."