Record falls, Notre Dame alum wins at annual Ryan Shay Mile
Heather Kampf of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota crosses the finish line to win the women's race at the annual Ryan Shay Mile Saturday in Charlevoix. Kampf, who runs professionally for ASICS and Team USA Minnesota, set a course record finishing in 4 minutes, 31.83 seconds. (STEVE FOLEY/NEWS-REVIEW / July 30, 2012)
It was almost two perfect finishes.
Heather Kampf of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota set a new course record in the women’s race down U.S. 31 into Charlevoix’s downtown which featured a tricky downhill descent near Clinton Street as she finished in 4 minutes, 31.83 seconds.
On the men’s side, Daniel Clark of Jackson and a former standout at Notre Dame — the same school where Ryan Shay ran in college following his standout career in Central Lake — finished first in an impressive 3:58.67 as he edged Liam Boylan-Pett at the finish line.
“Winning the race and to honor Ryan Shay, this is something that’s been on my bucket list for a while now. I’m just ecstatic,” Clark said.
“I didn’t know him (Shay) that well, but I’d see him when he’d come back to visit at Notre Dame.”
Clark, who in the past two Shay Mile’s has finished seventh, said he just wanted to up with the leaders near the halfway mark of the race before attempting to reel them.
“I just wanted to get out since there was a bounty for the first half mile mark,” said Clark, who ran at Jackson Lumen Christi. “Everybody gets out really hard. I may have taken the lead at about the 1,200 mark and with a quarter to go I was battling with Liam Boylan-Pett, a Northern Michigan guy, and we battled back-and-forth and I was just fortunate to get a win today.”
Clark, who at Notre Dame led the Fighting Irish to a NCAA Championship and earned All-Big East honors in indoor and outdoor tack and was the 1,500 meter Big East champion, recently competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon at Oregon University’s Hayward Field and missed out on a final qualifying berth in the 1,500 meter run by just a tenth of a second, finishing in 3:42.85.
“I was working 55-60 hours a week doing accounting last year, but I quit that job to focus on the Olympic trials,” Clark said. “I just missed going to the finals, but it was great to run in Eugene with thousands of crazy track fans.”
Clark said he was concerned about Boylan-Pett — a standout runner at Bath High School where he was a seven-time state champion before running at Columbia and Georgetown — during the final 800 meters after the twosome and Peter Van Der Westheizen led the pack into downtown Charlevoix.
“That hill is tough,” Clark said. “It’s hard on your quads and your hamstrings, especially where you’re used to running on a flat surface. You have to be careful for that and take advantage.”
Clark said he has been training hard the past two weeks for the race, a race he also said anyone couldn’t won.
“The competition was great and it was just whoever had the best day was going to win, anybody could’ve taken it,” Clark said. “It was pretty fast. It was around two minutes flat for the half and I was in about fifth place then. I know Liam’s 800 PR is about five seconds faster than mine so I was just glad to be able to finish.”
Boylan-Pett finished second in 3:59.53, while Van Der Westheizen, a South African runner who ran at the University of Nebraska, was third in 4:00.39.
In the women’s race, Kampf led a pack along with Ashley Miller and Ashley Higginson near the half mile mark before the 800 specialist Kampf asserted herself and never relinquished the lead to finish with a new course record.
Like Clark, Kampf — a former University of Minnesota runner who was the 800 indoor champion in 2006, was coming off competing in the Olympic trials.
“I haven’t raced since the Olympic trials so getting back into race mode was key for me today,” Kampf said. “It was an adjustment at first a little bit and I had to remind myself I was racing again.”
Kampf said she had been training with Gabriele Anderson, who told her of the Shay Mile.
“She said I should try to get in it and I was a late entry, but Matt Peterson (race director) was very accommodating and they got me in.”
Kampf, who runs professionally for Asics and Team USA Minnesota, said she used the momentum she gained from the hill near Clinton Street to propel her to the finish.
“I’ve always heard it’s (hill) something you have to be careful for because it’s something that can really take out your legs,” Kampf said. “I caught so much momentum going down I figured I may as well let it carry me on through.
“I’m just happy I could finish this way.”
Miller, an All-American runner at the University of Nebraska, was runner-up in 4:33.53; while Higginson, who ran at Princeton and now for New Jersey/New York Track Club, was third at 4:33.92.
“My hope is to go back to Europe after the Olympics and do some more mile races,” Kampf said. “This race was a great event and it’s in honor of a great person in Ryan Shay.”