Records Fall as McNamara, Butts Claim Collegiate Road Mile National Titles
Race was held within the 35th Loudoun Street Mile in Winchester, Virginia
May 30, 2022 – Winchester, Virginia – Records fell as Gina McNamara (University of Michigan/Georgetown Running Company) and David Butts (Hagerstown Community College) claimed victory in the Collegiate Running Association’s 2022 Road Mile National Championships this morning in Winchester, Virginia. Held within the 35th annual Loudoun Street Mile, the men’s and women’s races featured strong fields including open athletes and students attending colleges in the U.S. chasing a share of the $5,300 in prize money.
Gina McNamara (4:31.3) and Susanna Sullivan (4:34.3) had an epic battle on Loudoun Street which ended with both crushing the course record (4:41.7) held by Australia 3K Steeplechase Olympian, Amy Cashin (West Virginia University).
Four-time Loudoun Street Mile Champion Sullivan, is having a tremendously successful spring which includes winning the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and Penn Relays 5K (15:29). She pushed the pace early passing through the ¼ mile in 66 seconds. By the ½ mile mark (2:16), which is slightly uphill, she opened a small lead on everyone except McNamara who was on her shoulder.
Down Loudoun Street they sprinted and by the ¾ mile mark it was clear the race would belong to Sullivan or McNamara, who still served as Sullivan’s shadow. The split read 3:24 as it became clear the course record was all but broken. The only questions remaining; by how much and which of the two would own it.
With roughly 300 meters remaining McNamara stepped to the side and started to push for home. And push she did. McNamara’s stride seemed to get longer and faster as she crossed the line with arms in victory-obliterating the record by 11 seconds with her 4:31.3 effort. Sullivan would be close behind in 4:34.5, also eclipsing the record by a large margin.
With her win McNamara claimed the $1,250 cash prizes as 2022 Collegiate Road Mile National Champion and the RRCA Road Mile National Champion, which was held concurrently. Sullivan placed in the runner-up position in the open race to earn $400.
Sydney Leiher (Arizona State University/ Georgetown Running Company) claimed the runner-up spot among the Collegiate Championships and $500 with her respectable 4:47.4 effort. University of Richmond graduate and 800M standout, Maria Acosta placed 4th (4:53.3), while 2022 Collegiate 10K Road Race Champion, Peri Pavicic (George Washington University) placed 3rd collegian and 5th overall running 4:55.2 for $250.
“There was a great group of women up front,” said McNamara. “Susanna is extremely talented, so it was great going out with her. Once we went through the ½ in 2:16 I knew the rolling hills down were going to be good. We both started to pick it up once we hit the brick (400M to go) and that’s the point you really start to open up your stride. It’s a really long finish and if you kick too early you really feel it, but it was really, really cool having the crowd cheer you in. This is my favorite road mile by far!”
On the men’s side, the field was deep and they wasted no time getting to business. A large pack surged through the 1/4 mile in 60 seconds. The charge was led by Gavin Jenkins (VMI) and included Elias Graca (Northwestern/ Georgetown Running Company), David Butts (Hagerstown Community College), Reid Sharkey (George Mason University), Jordan Bendura (University of Richmond), Hunter Jutras (George Mason University), Brian Rich (American University/Georgetown Running Company), Tyler Cox-Philyaw (William & Mary), Logan Broedner (George Washington University), Ryan Witters (Georgetown Running Company), Idriss Idriss (Stevenson) and James Heilman (McDaniel) all there.
As they climbed to the ½ mile point, Jenkins really began to push as he towed a large pack through the ½ mile in 2:05; a 65 on the uphill ¼ mile section of the race. At this point Elias Graca, Butts, Sharkey, Bendura, Jutras, Cox-Philyaw and Broedner were still in contact.
After they dropped to the ¾ mile mark, it is essentially down to Jenkins, Graca and a couple steps behind was Butts. The split clock read 3:05 and they had opened about 3 seconds on the large 13 person, chase pack.
As they entered the red-brick section of Historic Winchester it was Butts who threw in a huge move to take the lead from Jenkins and Graca, who still looked to have a lot of racing left in their legs. With the sun shining brightly, Butts sprinted to the finish in front of the large cheering crowd and claimed the 2022 Collegiate Road Mile National Championship and the RRCA Road Mile National title.
In just over 4 minutes Butts claimed two national titles. His 4:04.3 edged Graca (4:04.6) and Jenkins (4:05.6) as they all three set personal bests and eclipsed the previous collegiate record of 4:10.24 set in 2021 by Colin Cannon (George Mason University).
For his win Butts claimed the $1,250 for the collegiate and overall titles, while Graca and Jenkins claimed $650 and $350 for their 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the Collegiate Championship and open categories.
“It was a great day and good to come out here and put on a show for this great crowd,” Butts said. “Jenkins (VMI) had started to separate himself from the pack a little bit when we hit 800 meters. But he wasn’t getting too far away, so with about 400-500 to go, I started moving up on him a little bit. And I was like, ‘Now is my chance to make my move.’
“With 400 to go, I passed him and I never looked back. With 200 to go, I was hurting and I figured that if somebody passed me now, it’s over. There’s no way I have anything left to kick them back down. But luckily I held on and got the win.”
The men’s top 10 all-time collegiate course performances were re-written today as the top 10 college students ran 4:17 or better. Sharkey (4:10.2), Rich (4:11.0), Heilman (4:13.2), Bendura (4:14.3), Broedner (4:14.8), Jutras (4:17.0) and Evans (4:17.0) rounded out the top 10 among college students.
“We created the Collegiate Running Association to promote the sport and give every college student, regardless of their age or degree level, an opportunity to embrace a healthy lifestyle and for the speedy to chase national titles in Road, Mountain and Trail running," said Steve Taylor, Collegiate Running Association Co-Founder. "This event gives runners of all ranges the chance to chase that mile personal best even if it was set back in high school. This is really fun and you need to be here to appreciate just how much fun it is."
“This is the fourth consecutive year the Loudoun Street Mile has hosted our Collegiate Road Mile Championship, and each time they have made it a special event for everyone,” said Collegiate Running Association Co-Founder, Jon Molz. “Mark (Stickley) and his event staff have been amazing and the Winchester community has be very supportive. Mark has been determined to safely hold this race in-person and they’ve done it twice during this pandemic. They are the example for others to follow. It’s just so nice to be back to in-person racing.”
Proceeds from the race benefit The Laurel Center in Winchester, which helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. The LSM raised several thousand dollars for The Laurel Center.
Look for details on the 2023 Loudoun Street Mile Race to be announced in the coming weeks when the Collegiate Road Mile National Championships return to Winchester.