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Drake Relays: Kampf and Centrowitz win Grand Blue Mile titles

Courtesy Doug Wells
Courtesy Doug Wells
DES MOINES, Iowa – Heather Kampf and Matthew Centrowitz held off tough fields and windy conditions to win the sixth-annual Grand Blue Mile, sponsored by Wellmark and Nationwide on the streets of downtown Des Moines.

Kampf, the event’s defending champion, retained her crown with a time of 4:35.75 aby holding off Nicole Sifuentes. Kampf’s win netted her $5,000 as $30,000 in prize money was awarded to the top men’s and women’s finishers.

“Nicole Sifuentes is a very strong kicker and runner and to be neck-and-neck with her at the end of the race is intimidating,” Kampf said. “I knew when I made my move I had to be extremely bold and give it all I got.”

Centrowitz finished in 4:03.97 to outduel defending champion Leo Manzano (4:04.21) down Grand Avenue. Garrett Heath was third in 4:04.21.

“Glancing back with 50 meters to go, he [Leo Manzano] was right on my shoulder,” Centrowitz said. “I thought I had put a little bit more gap on him, but you’re expecting a tough race anytime you race an Olympic silver medalist.”

Matthew Jurysta of Guelph, Ontario, won the men’s competitive division race in 4:14.17 while Yelena Nanaziashvili claimed the women’s competitive race in 5:19.20.

Approximately 5,000 runners — an event record — took part in the Grand Blue Mile. Elite athletes, competitive and recreational runners competed in five separate events.

“The town really got around this race and I’m looking forward to Saturday and my first Drake Relay,” Centrowitz said.

Many of those elite runners, including both Kampf and Centrowitz will remain in Des Moines and compete on the Blue Oval in the Drake Relays mile and 800-meter races at Drake Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

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