On June 5th, 2014, Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano will be in Concord, Mass., to race the mile at the Adrian Martinez Classic track meet. And that’s only one surprising and interesting development for a local meet intent on getting national recognition.
Now in its sixth year, the Martinez Classic began in 2009 as an event to honor the memory of former Concord-Carlisle H.S. and Williams College runner Adrian Martinez, who died of sudden cardiac arrest while playing soccer with his friends. The event also raised money for a scholarship fund in Martinez’ name. It was originally conceived as a “festival of miles” with mile races for a variety of age groups, first timers, etc. There was good prize money for winning the elite men’s and women’s races, and a $1000 bonus offered for a sub-4:00 mile (men) or sub-4:30 (women).
The combination of a family feeling and elite aspirations made for a unique event, but for various reasons, it has remained small, and hasn’t yet attracted high-quality fields. That looks like it might change this year, as the meet has signed up Hoka One One as a sponsor, has added elite 800 and 5000m races, and has put together a serious package of incentives to recruit national caliber athletes.
But the biggest news so far is that Manzano will run. It’s not every day that an Olympic Medalist shows up at your community track, and it seems certain that his presence increases the likelihood that other top runners will sign on, and that spectators will come out. It’s intriguing to wonder what the final fields will look like.
Intriguing also is the very concept of mixing high-performance elite races with high school, youth, and masters races in a family friendly, low-key setting.
The meet is Thursday evening, June 5th at Emerson Field in Concord. See you there?