The Millrose Games has been dubbed “The Fastest Track in the World” due to the number of records that have been broken at the event and so it is easy to see why elite runners from across the globe like to add the event to their season. Scotland’s Josh Kerr, who won gold in the 1500m race at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest will be one of the stars headed to the historic event, and he tells M&F that it is one of his favorite places to blaze a trail.
We find out why the event has such appeal, and how Kerr is currently training.
The Millrose Games began after the Millrose Athletic Association was formed by workers in the Jon Wanamaker Department Store in 1908. Originally, the games were hosted in Madison Square Garden until it was moved to the Armory in New York City. Paavo Nurmi and Bernard Lagat are just two of the iconic runners that have competed at the event and on Feb. 11, the Millrose Games will celebrate event No. 116.
These days the spectacle is lauded for its anti-doping policies and is the home of the Wanamaker Mile race. It’s a meet that is considered to be one of the most prestigious events for indoor track and field competition and is often the first stop as athletes begin their season.
Why Does Josh Kerr Choose The Millrose Games to Open His Running Season?
While the Olympics and The World Championships are a staple of the summer, there are always running events dotted around the year that athletes can sign up to. So, how to they decide when and where to begin their season? “I’m a bit different to most people,” says Kerr. “I love racing the big meets, just off the rip. The reason for it, is that I enjoy that pressure that comes with doing that. We kind of work backwards from the major championships. So, from the Olympics, we’ll work back and be, like, ‘Okay, what races will put us in the best positions?’ I think it’s a meet that everyone enjoys to watch, it’s got a great atmosphere, and it’s a meet that most big athletes will want to go to.”
Kerr knows a thing or two about breaking records. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, he kickstarted his running career with a scholarship and move to The University of New Mexico. While there, Kerr won national titles for the indoor mile and claimed three NCAA titles. He also set a new collegiate record for the 1500m; a feat that he would later repeat. Kerr tells M&F that an example hard training day in college included 8-to-15-mile runs followed by hour long gym sessions, not to mention maintaining his classroom studies.
Now that he’s a full-time athlete chasing gold on the world stage, Kerr appreciates how those early days tested his mettle. He’s now acutely aware of how important it is to maintain his core and to improve his explosive power during strength and conditioning sessions. “We’re not trying to move a lot of weight, but we are trying to move it quickly,” he explains of the process of building speed. These days, box jumps, medicine ball throws, and squats are mainstays of Kerr’s training. Last year, he won the 3,000m race at the Millrose Games.
Other historical track and field highlights from the games include pole vaulter Cornelius Warmerdam becoming the first person to vault 15 feet (4.6 meters) indoors and Carl Lewis jumping 28 feet (8.5 meters) to smash an indoor record in 1984.
Kerr explains that with the Olympics still around six months away, now is a great time to start his “problem solving” phase, breaking the season down into indoor and then outdoor competition.
Middle Distance Running is About Problem Solving
Kerr explains to M&F that he runs around 70 miles each week, including 18 to 20 mile runs on a Sunday. He maintains this regime most of the year to stay in shape and begins to hone in on specific techniques as the season nears. With 1500m runs taking around three and a half minutes for elite runners to complete, Kerr says that it is only through practice that he can train his brain to make the necessary adaptations needed to stay ahead. “We sit, and we break it down, and we train for different parts (of the run),” says Kerr, who won Olympic bronze at Tokyo 2020. “Race day is like an exam day. So, if someone (else) goes off fast, we know what to do … The more experienced you are, the quicker the answers are that you will come to.”
Josh Kerr will headline the men’s indoor two-mile event at The Millrose Games on February 11. “Millrose is a very special event, because you have all the spectators very close to the track” he tells M&F.