By Tanner Cook
With the atmosphere of a perennial big-time race, the inaugural Downtown Mile did not disappoint.
The night began with a kids’ dash that gave spectators the idea of an event that encompasses the entire family. The next race on tap was the open mile race for runners that may not have been as fast as the elites, but were still quick in their own respects.
The night concluded with the Fleet Feet Elite Mile that had a total cash prize payout of $700 split between the men and the women. Spectators were treated to male runners that broke five minutes for a mile and women that broke six minutes.
In his first-ever road mile, Johnson City native and former Tennessee Volunteer runner Austin Whitelaw took home the men’s title in a blazing time of 4:29. Whitelaw had a wire-to-wire victory, leading from the outset.
“I was pleased with my time. I liked the course, but it had a lot of turns. The hairpin turn before the half-mile point was bad, but I had to deal with it,” said Whitelaw. “The course was pretty flat and spectator-friendly with people about every 100 meters or so.”
In the women’s race, two-time Knoxville marathon winner and mother of three Gina Rouse took home the title with a time of 5:09.
“This was really a last-minute jump in the van and come up to run for me from Knoxville,” remarked Rouse. “This was a great event for all ages and experience levels. I loved that there was a kids race. I would’ve brought my own kids if their bedtime wasn’t 8:00.”
The Downtown Mile was a celebration of Global Running Day and there was even a post-race party for runners at one of the title sponsors, Yee-Haw! Brewing Company, which was just a short walk away from the finish area on East Main Street.