The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” banged in speakers as Chula Vista’s Miranda Melville rolled into goal Saturday in Santee. She did not disappoint.
In his debut race of 35 kilometers (21.75 miles), the 32-year-old Tokyo Olympian set an American record – with 3 hours, 18 seconds.
“I was hoping to dip under 3 hours,” she said on a day with temps in their 50s. “I died in the last 5K. But it’s still a record for now, and records are meant to be broken.”
The former best American distance on the once rarely competed distance was 3:00:43 by Katie Burnett in 2017. But the Olympics and World Championships move to a single distance of 35K – from 20K and 50K.
Becoming more comfortable at 35K is El Cajon native Nick Christie, who won the men’s title on Saturday morning in 2:48:48 – with an average of 7:46 per. month ago in Dublin, Ireland.
Both won $ 8,000 and hope they are closer to qualifying for the July World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon – the first outdoor world championship ever held in America.
Christie also confided in race reporter Tracy Sundlun that he was thinking of a 20K and 35K double at the World Championships – which caused the veteran race organizer to exclaim, “Oh, oh, greedy pacifiers.”
However, the former decathlete deserves what he gets.
Several steps after finishing at Santee Trolley Square, Christie threw up.
The 30-year-old knelt briefly, wiped his face and went on to give interviews alongside his race-walk champion girlfriend Robyn Stevens of Vacaville.
(A 20K Tokyo Olympian, Stevens dropped out of Saturday’s race after an hour and 50 minutes with a “tight ass” gluten problem, “a sciatic nerve thing,” she said.)
Christie dominated the men’s field and finished nearly 11 minutes ahead of second-placed Daniel Nehnevaj, 24, of Beckley, West Virginia, in his own 35K debut. (See results here.)
“It is hard to [race] himself, ”Christie said. So when I was in Ireland a month ago, I had a good group. It is completely different when you are in front all the time alone. ”
Women’s champion Melville – related to “Moby Dick” writer Herman – said she knew her last 5K would “really hurt.” But she said she surrounded herself with positivity, and “no matter (what) I would end this. I did not care what place it was. I was going to put my first in.”
She said she had to make up for two tough years. Her first prize – the most she has ever won – will help. “Will pay my bills,” she said.
Paul Greer, longtime San Diego Track Club coach and president of the United States Track and Field San Diego Association, watched the races with awe.
“I think the smiles say it all when they cross the finish line,” he said. “35K is not as much as 50K, but it’s still a brutal distance. … They say it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at something. And it is no different. “
Christie was delighted to reach the qualifying standard of 2:49 for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in March in Muscat, Oman.
His 2022 begins to compensate for 2021, marked by tragedy.
Although he took 50th place in the 20K hike at the Tokyo Summer Games, Christie’s father, Dennis, died in April.
He said he thought of his father during races – including Dublin.
As a freshman at Grossmont High School, he played baseball with future major league pitchers Joe Musgrove and Steven Brault (from Pirates) “And April 9… was when Joe Musgrove threw the no-hitter for the Padres,” he said. “And my dad and I went back and forth” about that milestone first.
Christie was in Philadelphia at the time – and that was the last talk he had with his father.
“And he asked me to break a record,” Christie said. “And I stank in that race in Philly. It was like that in my mind all year. So when I was going to Ireland, I was really excited.”
Also excited – Christie’s former coach, two-time Olympic race-walker Tim Seaman.
Seaman, who made Christie a race walker at Cuyamaca College, sees better things ahead, and that soon.
“I think he’s going to go faster later in the year,” Seaman said. “I definitely think he will break the American record again.”
20K in the Oregon worlds is nine days ahead of 35K on July 24, and the double is “theoretically possible because of the gap between the two races,” he said. “It depends on how well the recovery goes in the between days.”
Christie, now his own coach, trains once a week on his alma mater Grossmont High and also on Grossmont College’s new course.
Sailor likes the way he walks: “Shape very smooth, low to the ground. You do not look at Nick’s technique and say, ‘You have to improve his technique’.”
But york at the end of a race?
Not sailor style.
“I have not vomited, but I have made people vomit, which is a lot of fun,” he said. “For me as an athlete, it was always my goal: Can I make this person throw up at the end of the race?”
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