Yomif Keje;cha (275480)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

The surface at the New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory in Washington Heights upheld its reputation as arguably the fastest in the world as many runners set their personal best times at the 112th Millrose Games this past Saturday, Feb. 9, including Donavan Brazier, who posted a new American indoor record in the men’s 800-meters with a time of 1:44.41.

Yet no one was more electric and dominating than Yomif Kejelcha, who at only 21 has established himself as one of track and field’s premiere distance performers. Competing in the Millrose’s signature event, the men’s New York Road Runners Wannamaker Mile, the Ethiopian fell a mere two-hundredths of a second short of breaking the world indoor mile record of 3:48.45 held by the legendary Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco since 1997. The enthusiastic crowd at The Armory urged Kejelcha on as he broke the tape in front of his pursuers in 3:48.46

“As soon as I finished and crossed the line, I looked up at the scoreboard and I knew I hadn’t broken the record,” said Kejelcha through an interpreter. “I’m very happy that I came very close and I can always try again. I will try again soon.”

He acknowledged the energy of the fans was palpable. “I could sense all the support,” said the 2016 3000-meters gold medal winner at World Indoor Championships. “I thank them and love them.” Kenya’s Edward Cheserek finished second in 3:53.29 and American Clayton Murphy took third in 3:53.30.

The women’s Wannamker was controlled from the outset by Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who clocked 4:19.48 to best last year’s winner, American Colleen Quigley, who came in second in 4:22.86. Fellow American Kate Grace was third in 4:24.27.