Minnesota Mile goes down to the wire

Defending champion Craig Miller had to step on the gas over the last 100 yards Sunday morning to keep a winning streak alive in the sixth Grandma's Minnesota Mile along the bricks of Superior Street.

Photo finish
Craig Miller of Madison crosses the finish line of the Minnesota Mile just ahead of Craig Huffer of Australia on Sunday morning in Duluth. (Clint Austin /

Defending champion Craig Miller had to step on the gas over the last 100 yards Sunday morning to keep a winning streak alive in the sixth Grandma's Minnesota Mile along the bricks of Superior Street.

The former University of Wisconsin eight-time All-American edged Australia's Craig Huffer by two-tenths of a second to claim the elite men's title in 4 minutes, 1.4 seconds. Miller, 25, earned $2,500 from a total purse of $15,500. He was two seconds faster than a year ago and is 3-for-3 in road miles in 2012.

Huffer, 22, who trains in Ann Arbor, Mich., settled for $1,500 in 4:01.6 in his first race in Minnesota. The point-to-point course goes from the Fitger's Brewery Complex to Fourth Avenue West.

Heather Kampf of Minneapolis won a fourth straight road mile race this year by taking the elite women's title in 4:36.5, worth $2,500. She was exactly one second ahead of former University of Minnesota distance teammate Gabriele Anderson of Minneapolis. There were 546 entrants in seven races on an ideal, sunny, 60-degree day.

"We ran a good honest pace, and with about 250 meters to go I made (my) move to break away," Miller said. "Then with 100 left I got pushed and (Huffer) went ahead. For a moment there I was thinking about second place, and then I told myself I really wanted first place, and I tried harder."


Miller previously had won the 2012 U.S. Road Mile Championships in 4:04.3 on May 17 in Minneapolis and the Liberty Mile in 3:58.4 on Aug. 17 in Pittsburgh. On the track, he was eighth in the U.S. Olympic Trials at 1,500 meters in 3:37.81 on July 1 in Eugene, Ore.

The 6-foot-3 Huffer hoped to run in Australia's Olympic Trials at 1,500 meters (holding a best of 3:36) but was sidelined by nagging injuries. He's returning to form and heard of the Minnesota Mile from Minnesota runner Will Leer. He figured he had a chance to win in what was the deepest field in race history.

"I probably got a little overconfident, taking the lead when I did, because my legs just couldn't hold the momentum," said Huffer, who won the 1,600-meter event in the Folksham Challenge track meet Aug. 4 in Molndal, Sweden. "(Miller) is kind of the king of American road miles right now."

Kampf, 25, who grew up in Rosemount, Minn., didn't look at the women's entry list, but figured if she stayed with Anderson, she'd be in good shape. They went through the first quarter-mile in 66 seconds and halfway in 2:20.

"I went out faster than I planned to with (Anderson), and she's run 4:04 for 1,500 meters, and I've never been close to that," said Kampf, a Team USA Minnesota teammate with Anderson. "I tried to remember to stay relaxed and then go for it at the end and run for your life."

Kampf, third in two previous Minnesota Miles, has other victories this year at the U.S. Road Mile Championships in 4:36.9, the Ryan Shay Mile in 4:31.83 on July 28 in Charlevoix, Mich., and the Liberty Mile in 4:35.8, where she beat Anderson by less than a second.

Anderson, 26, just missed making the 2012 U.S. Olympic team at 1,500 meters in July and then set personal bests on the track at 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters on European tracks. The native of Perham, Minn., has made a strong comeback after being diagnosed with cancer twice in the past three years.

"(Kampf) and I expected to be at the lead and we really pushed together the last 600 meters," Anderson said. "I prefer the track because I have a hard time timing a road mile, but it's a good training tool."


Top Northland placers in the elite mile were Duluthians Grant Johnson, 29, finishing 23rd among 33 men in 4:19.2 and Katie Koski, 39, finishing 14th among women in 5:15.1.

Winners in the Duluth Mile were Kyle Larson, 22, of Duluth in 4:42.0 and Marisa Shady, 19, of Esko in 5:20.7. Winners in the All-City Mile were Duluthians Tim McShane, 35, in 5:26 and Lisa Hirsch, 30, in 5:58.

  • After requiring emergency help at the end of last year's race, Gene Curnow of Saginaw was back on the road Sunday, finishing in 10:00 in the All-City Mile. Curnow, 68, received CPR assistance and needed a defibrillator in 2011 before he was taken by ambulance to St. Luke's hospital, where he later underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He said he's slowly gotten back into running and has a training partner in granddaughter Haley Bengtson, 20, of Duluth.
  • Grandma's Marathon board member Kevin Peterson of Superior ran 6:55 in the All-City Mile, thrilled to finish under seven minutes. Peterson, 54, diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer a year ago, ran the race with buddy Tim Stratioti, 51, of Duluth who was a step behind in 6:56.
  • Women's winner
    Heather Kamph of Minneapolis crosses the finish line of the Minnesota Mile on Sunday morning. Kamph won the women's race with a time of 4:36.5. (Clint Austin /

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