A pair of B.A.A. unicorns were spotted ringing in the New Year in style, sweeping victories in Central Park at the NYRR Midnight Run, held at the stroke of midnight.
Sarah Pagano and Daniel Winn won the classic four-mile road race with times of 18:34 and 21:13, respectively, while teammate Katie Matthews was second for women. As the crystal ball dropped over Times Square less than a mile away, thousands took off under a sky lit by fireworks. Pagano and Matthews quickly found themselves in the women’s front pack. Bytwo and a half miles, they were alone out front.
Playing off their strengths just as they do in practice, Pagano and Matthews tackled the hills of Central Park as one.
“It’s fun because we work together in all our workouts and we both have different strengths and weaknesses. Katie’s really good at downhill running, I’m a little bit stronger on the uphills,” said Pagano. “We definitely ran a lot faster than we would have if it was just one. That makes it really fun.”
By the finish, Pagano had created a three second gap, winning the title in 21:13 over Matthews’ 21:16. Close friends, the pair shared an embrace beyond the finish line.
“I was really excited to come down here,” said Pagano. “I’ll start the year off with a win!”
“She had a little bit more left at the end,” added Matthews. “This race was about having fun and starting the year right. Our favorite thing to do is race and run, and why not kick off the New Year that way. Our plan was definitely to work together and I think we did that well.”
The men’s race rapidly developed while fireworks were still booming high above Central Park’s landscape. Staying patient, Team B.A.A.’s Winn let Joe Stilin and Louis Serafini manage the pace before squeezing down the gas pedal. A mile specialist, Winn knew that if the race came down to the final kilometer he’d have the advantage.
“Joe pushed the pace early and I like to think a kick is my strong-suit, so I tried to just be really patient and take the uphills as easy as I possibly could while staying with it,” Winn said. “When Louis hadn’t broken me by the end, I kind of let the hill open my stride up and I kind of looked back in the final stretch and saw some space. I was able to enjoy the homestretch.”
Though Stilin and Serafini put up valiant efforts, it was Winn prevailing with a smile. He’d break the tape in 18:34, solidifying his first victory in the B.A.A.’s classic unicorn kit.
“My first win in a B.A.A. uniform! Great way to start the new year,” Winn proclaimed.
Since graduating from the University of Oregon last spring, Winn has had consistent success under coach Terrence Mahon. Recently he finished sixth at both the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving and at the USA National Club Cross Country Championships, before winning in New York City.
“I’ve always found [distance] a lot more fun than a lot of other milers would. With that being said, I can’t wait to get back on the track,” Winn said with a laugh. “My next race will be a track race, and I’m looking forward to that. As much as I enjoy these, this [distance] is for the winter and fall. Now it’s time for track stuff.”