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Speedy Scott beats big names to end sixth in NY Mile

Scott

By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s Dominique Scott continues to serve up speedy reminders that she should have been part of the national team at last month’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

Her latest outing, the final race of her season, saw her tackling her debut 5th Avenue Mile in New York, and she more than held her own to place sixth in a star-studded elite field.

Her time was 4min 19.64sec, less than three seconds behind six-time winner Jenny Simpson of the United States (4:16.65). Simpson was runner-up in the 1500m at world championships, one spot ahead of SA’s Caster Semenya.

And second-placed Laura Weightman of Britain (4:17.62) was sixth in the 1500m final at world champs.

Just ahead of Scott were Brenda Martinez, a world champs 800m semi-finalist, and 5000m finalist Eilish McColgan.

Just as significant was the fact that Scott beat 3000m steeplechase world champion Emma Coburn of the US into eight position.

And it must be remembered that Scott is certainly more of a 5000/10000m runner, so for her to be so competitive in this sort of field speaks volumes for her pedigree.

‘I was really excited to get invited,’ Scott told Team SA. ‘I’d only heard good things about this race. I’ve watched it for the last couple of years and all the athletes ran super-fast times and it just looked a really cool event with the spectators able to watch from so close, and of course getting to visit New York City.

Closer to race time and the nerves naturally started tingling.

‘There were 24 girls on the start list and I was ranked 23rd, with the third-slowest 1500m PR (personal record) coming into the race.

‘So it was a bit intimidating knowing that these were athletes coming off World Championships medals. But at the same time I was just excited to be invited to mix it up with these athletes.’

Her pre-race preparations had involved her jumping back on the track with her coach. ‘We did more speed work-outs. I could tell my body was getting fatigued as the season dragged on, so the work-outs were shorter and focused on the speed aspect before recovery, and doing more.’

The good thing is Scott says the speed seemed to be in her legs. ‘I was running fast times on the track, even for so late in the season, so I knew I could run a good race… if I ran a smart race.’

Born and bred in Cape Town, the Fayetteville flyer says that going into the race, her goal was to be in the top 10. ‘But in a field of 24, most of whom had faster 1500m personal and season’s bests, it felt like I was stretching that goal.

‘But coach wanted me to have a goal that was exciting, and would also motivate me to give it my all.’

Indication of how little threat she was deemed to be, was the fact she was in the second row ‘not near the front and right in the corner, you could barely see me.’

The direct route of the race, run down 20 blocks of the famous neighborhood, meant runners could see the finish line from a long way out.

‘So I had to be patient, even though the finish line seems a lot closer than it was. I didn’t worry about trying to push to the front too early. Jenny [Simpson] ran a 63-second first quarter and I was probably about 65, which was perfect for me. The third quarter is slightly uphill, and I could feel the gradient changing under my feet so just focused on powering up.’

Then followed a slight decline and Scott got on to the balls of her feet and leaning forward.

And suddenly the finish loomed large. ‘With about 400m to go, I saw a few of the girls locking up around me and dropping off and could only see only about eight girls in front of me, and I said to myself ‘Hey, I’m still feeling good and I only have a quarter to do, so started pushing, started driving.

‘Mentally I just told myself to push all the way. I was so, so shocked. Firstly to get position six in a field of 24 amazing 1500m runners, and secondly to run a 4:19, the same time Jenny ran to win last year.

‘I was just blown away and it was so rewarding to finish my season on a high note.’

Scott is happy to end her season on a high and prove to the few presumptive doubters out there that she was in the shape of her life.

‘All season I’ve known I was in really good shape, I’ve had some incredible workouts, better than ever, but it wasn’t all lining up in a race.

‘Definitely not being in the SA World Championships team was very disappointing and threw a curve into my season as I’d planned to peak at worlds and run a good 5000/10000 there. So not being able to compete and left with no races to run due to the fact that worlds was going on was really hard on my season.’

But all’s well that ends well. ‘To go to New York and run against athletes who did have the opportunity to race at worlds and actually beat a couple of them was special.

‘It proves I was in really good shape and that the hard work I’d put into everything was all worth it.’

Scott’s sixth spot was also worth a tidy $750 (just under R10,000) to spoil herself after her World Championships dreams had been cruelly spoiled through no fault of her own.

Pictures of Scott in 5th Avenue action courtesy of Jason Suarez/@Notafraid2fail

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