It might not be quite the same as taking batting practice with Bryce Harper or shooting hoops with Joel Embiid but for runners in an upcoming local race, it could create similar excitement.
Archbishop Wood High School mile sensation Gary Martin, the first sub-four-minute miler in Bucks County history, is slated to appear at the Bucks County Mile on Sunday, June 26 at Council Rock North High School in Newtown.
Depending on his race schedule – which needless to say is quite busy – Martin plans to be on hand and might even toe the starting line.
That would certainly create a buzz among some of the young guns who would like to keep up with Martin for at least a hundred meters or maybe longer.
Martin has enjoyed a magical spring outdoor season, winning the Penn Relays mile and later cracking the iconic four-minute barrier with a stunning 3:57.98 at the Philadelphia Catholic League championships last month.
According to race director Pat McCloskey of runBucks.com, Martin might “run for fun’’ in the middle of the pack or start off last just to let everyone say they beat him in a race. And there’s also a chance he could be just holding up the finish line tape with a big grin on his face when you cross the finish line.
Whatever the case, it promises to be a very memorable day.
“He’s still got a really long season going here,’’ McCloskey said. “He has the Brooks PR Invitational at Seattle on Saturday and then the New Balance Outdoors Nationals next Wednesday at Franklin Field in front of a home crowd. That’s going to be a big deal. I think it (whether he chooses to run in the Bucks County Mile as opposed to just attending the event) is going to be a game-time decision.’’
The idea of running the race from the back of the pack has generated a few chuckles.
“What we have joked a lot about is it would be kind of cool to be the last person,’’ McCloskey said. “So everyone can say they ran a race against Gary Martin and beat him.’’
McCloskey refers to Martin as “the nicest kid on the planet’’ –certainly modest about all his accomplishments, such as becoming just the 14th high school-aged runner to complete the mile in under four minutes.
“That’s the first thing everybody says about Martin. . .not what a great runner he is,’’ McCloskey said, “but what a great person he is. He’s become a huge student of the sport during his three years in high school. I think he already realizes he has that ability to give back.’’
Martin, who graduated from Wood last week, might want to see how fast he can run on the Newtown course because there’s an 80-foot elevation drop. No official records are being kept, of course, but what if he were to go all out and run something crazy like 3:55 or faster?
The mile layout starts near the softball field at Council Rock North High School and finishes near the Richboro-Newtown Road entrance to Tyler State Park.
Veteran observers of the local track scene might want to already think about calling Martin the greatest middle-distance in Bucks County history. If he continues to improve, his name will start getting attention on a national level such as the Olympics.
The cool thing is he’s already making himself accessible to his growing fan base and that’s what makes prominent athletes extra special.
For more information on the Bucks County Mile, visit www.runBucks.com.
>Bucks County Duathlon registration underway
If you’re training for late summer/early fall multi-sport events, please put the 11th annual Bucks County Duathlon on your calendar.
The two-mile run, 10-mile bike, two-mile run in and around Washington Crossing Historic Park will be held on Sunday, Sept. 4. Proceeds benefit the Missy Flynn Fund to support the former world-class triathlete from Newtown who survived a life-threatening brain aneurysm on Dec. 23, 2005.
You won’t find a faster, more scenic and more convenient course in the Delaware Valley and it’s a perfect set-up for longer races in the late fall.
For more information, visit www.buckscountyduathlon.org.
Wounded Hero 5K, 9 a.m., Warminster Community Park. Contact www.runsignup.com
Break-Fast 5K/10K, 8:30 a.m., Doylestown. Contact www.bucks5kseries.com
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