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By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(08-Nov) — A top-class field of elite women are ready to toe the line
at the seventh edition of the Kalakaua Merrie Mile in Honolulu on
Saturday, December 9, race organizers announced today. Ten women
representing three nations –including five Olympians– will not only
race each other but also a field of elite men who will chase them after
the women get a 30-second head start. With this format, unique to this
event, the $10,000 prize money purse will be distributed to the top four
athletes based on the overall order of finish of men and women combined.

“The Chase format for the mile has proven to be very successful,
competitive, and fun,” said Honolulu Marathon Association president, Dr.
Jim Barahal, who introduced The Chase at the first edition of the race
in 2016. “It always ensures a fast and incredibly close finish.”

American mile record holder and national 1500m champion Nikki Hiltz will
lead the field. Hiltz, 29, who lives and trains in Flagstaff, Ariz.,
set the American record of 4:16.35 in Monaco last July after winning the
USA 1500m title in 4:03.10 with a 61.3-second closing lap. Hiltz, the
reigning USA road mile champion, identifies as transgender and nonbinary
and uses they/them pronouns. This will be Hiltz’s third start at the
Kalakaua Merrie Mile after finishing second in 2022 (4:27.5) and fifth
in 2019 (4:40.5).

“I am absolutely thrilled to return to Honolulu to race the Merrie Mile
this year,” Hiltz said. “It’s usually getting cold in Flagstaff that
time of year so having the opportunity to escape the cold and snow for a
bit to go race a mile on the streets of Honolulu is such a treat.”

At the 2022 edition of the race, the elite women got a 29-second head
start. The men were able to catch up, but only just. Hiltz thinks the
extra second could be significant.

“I’m super-excited for a 30-second head start this year,” Hiltz said.
“I think if the women’s field makes it honest that first half there’s a
good chance someone from our side could win it all! The ‘gender
challenge’ part of this race always makes this mile so fun and I
honestly wish more road miles throughout the year implemented it.”

Hiltz’s top challenger will likely be 2021 USA Olympic Trials 1500m
champion Elle St. Pierre (née Purrier). St. Pierre, 28, who lives in
Berkshire, Vermont but belongs to a training group in Boston, is coming
off of maternity leave after the birth of her son, Ivan, last March.
She is the USA record holder for the mile indoors (4:16.85) a mark she
set winning the famed Wanamaker Mile at the 2020 Millrose Games in New
York. This will be St. Pierre’s second appearance at the Kalakaua
Merrie Mile; she was the first woman (and second in The Chase) in the
2019 edition when she ran 4:25.0.

Interestingly, the race will have it’s first elite Japanese entrant this
year. Olympian Nozomi Tanaka, four times the Japanese 1500m champion,
will be running the race for the first time. Tanaka, 24, finished
eighth in the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics and was most recently eighth
at the World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga in the road
mile. She has mile and 1500m personal bests of 4:28.94 and 3:59.19,
respectively, and is widely regarded as Japan’s best runner from the 800
meters to 5000 meters.

Stepping down to run the mile will be USA 5000m and 10,000m record
holder Alicia Monson of Boulder, Colo. Monson, 24, a 2021 Olympian, is
another Kalakaua Merrie Mile rookie, but her competitors will respect
her because she also has a lot of speed. Monson has an excellent mile
personal best of 4:23.55 and holds the USA record for 3000m indoors:

The complete elite field is listed below.

The Kalakaua Merrie Mile has a World Athletics-certified and
record-eligible course adjacent to Waikiki Beach, and the race will use
fully automatic timing (sometimes called photo timing). That means that
world, area and national records can be set on the out-and-back course
on Kalakaua Avenue, America’s most famous beachfront boulevard. The
course record for women is 4:22.6 set by Kenya’s Mirriam Cherop in 2018,
and the current world record is 4:20.98.

In addition to the elite field over 3,000 everyday runners will also
compete in the race in other heats. Many will run in costume and, as in
previous years, many will also run the Honolulu Marathon the following day.

“Following the People’s Mile, the professionals take to the street,”
explained Barahal. “The course records of 4:22.6 for women at 3:53.3
for men are in jeopardy with the incredible fields that we’ve
assembled. Even more exciting, the newly established World Athletics
record for the road mile is definitely within the grasp of these athletes.”

Kalakaua Merrie Mile Women’s Elite Field With Mile and 1500m Personal Bests*

Susan Ejore (KEN), 27, Under Armour, Mile, 4:31.54 / 1500m, 4:02.20
Nikki Hiltz (USA), 29, lululemon, 4:16.35 (AR) / 3:59.61
Dani Jones (USA), 27, New Balance, 4:23.33 / 4:01.66
Weini Kelati (USA), 27, Under Armour, 4:37.75 / 4:10.88
Emily Lipari (USA), 31, adidas, 4:28.84 / 4:05.68
Cory McGee (USA), 31, New Balance, 4:18.11 / 4:00.34
Alicia Monson (USA), 25, On Athletics Club, 4:23.55i / 4:06.38i
Rachel Smith (USA), 32, Hoka One One, 4:20.91 / 4:02.26
Elle St. Pierre (USA), 28, New Balance Boston, 4:16.85i / 1500m, 3:58.03
Nozomi Tanaka (JPN), 24, New Balance, 4:28.94i; 1500m, 3:59.19
*Subject to change i = Indoor mark

Full bios with photos can be found here:

2023 Kalakaua Merrie Mile Elite Field

By News Team