Brenda Martinez Continues Road Mastery With Win in B.A.A. Invitational Mile
Over the past 15 months, Brenda Martinez has become one of the top milers in the country. Beginning with an indoor track triumph in Boston in January 2012, she went on to victories in a Madison Square Garden indoor mile, the Falmouth Mile, the Great North City Games Mile, and the famous Fifth Avenue Mile.
On Sunday, she added the B.A.A. Invitational Mile, pulling away handily in the late stages for a 4:51.4 win over Gabriele Anderson (4:52.7) and Heather Kampf (4:53.5) for the win.
“I love the roads,” said the 25-year-old, the 2009 NCAA 1500-meter runner-up who made her first international team last year, representing the United States in the IAAF World Indoor Championships. “I think it’s a different kind of energy with the crowd. This was awesome.”
The three-loop race that ends at the Boston Marathon finish line began tactically, with 2010 IAAF World Indoor Champion Kalkidan Gezahenge taking the lead at the gun before the five other women in the race quickly coalesced behind her. Soon, they were running in a tight bunch, with no one in a hurry to leave the pack on the chilly, windy morning. But when she hit the first turn of the last lap, onto Dartmouth Street, Martinez took control. Then, on fashionable Newbury Street with about 300 meters to go, she fashioned a serious move and pulled away in earnest.
“I didn’t want to get jammed on the late turns,” said Martinez, making her debut here, “so when I went, I went hard.”
Anderson, the runner-up, praised the champion.
“She’s gotten the road miles down well,” said Anderson, 26, who finished fourth at 1500 meters at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and runs for Team USA Minnesota. Knowing that Martinez has a strong move, Anderson said, “I should have maybe pre-empted that move sooner.”
Shortly before, the crowd was treated to a photo finish in the Girls’ Scholastic Mile when Melissa Lodge of Hopkinton and Sarah Lagan of Natick staged a fierce battle to the finish line, crossing in the identical time of 5:23.5. Lodge was declared the winner, giving Hopkinton its first champion in the five-year history of the race.
Asked how she felt immediately after the win, Lodge said simply: “Tired.”
The scholastic miles feature two students from each of the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon course: Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston. With her victory, Lodge broke Newton’s four-year stranglehold on the girls’ individual title, while she and Hopkinton teammate Mary-Paule Monks combined to take Hopkinton’s first team title, as well, after four straight by Newton.
Lodge, with a mile personal best of 5:13.58, was second to Lagan as the leaders hit the first lap, but took a one-step lead as the two headed into the second lap. Lagan stayed on her shoulder all the way until pulling alongside for the furious homestretch kick.
“I couldn’t have done it without the crowd,” said Lodge.
Both girls said it was the closest finish in which they’d ever been involved.
The Girls’ Middle School 1000 Meters was won by Gabrielle Vandendries of Brookline in 3:24, with Jasmine Tiamfook of Wellesley as runner-up in 3:26.3. Molly Hopkins and Taylor Velazquez went 3-4, making it a girls’ team-title sweep for Hopkinton, where the 117th Boston Marathon will begin on Monday morning.