Sunday’s adidas Boost Boston Games provided many of the world’s elite sprinters and hurdlers a rare opportunity to run a street race. But for many of them, the temporary track set up near the Boston Marathon finish line in Copley Square had a lot more give than expected.
“It was a bouncy track, and I love a bouncy track,” said women’s 200m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.
“When you run on a bouncy track like this, you have to make sure you have good form,” said women’s 100m winner Aleia Hobbs.
Most of Sunday’s racers had fine form, given the event is one of the last international track events prior to July’s Olympic Games. Each winner hoped their victory would cement their status heading into Tokyo.
Miller-Uibo, the reigning Olympic champion in the 400m, didn’t need Sunday’s meet to solidify her favorite status, but showing off her blistering speed didn’t hurt. In the 200m, she led the entire way, running a commanding 22.08, which was 0.32 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kortnei Johnson.
“It was a pretty easy and comfortable run,” said Miller-Uibo.
Grant Holloway, the victor in the men’s 110m hurdles, also had an impressive performance. After an indoor season that saw him set the world record in the 60m hurdles, the American entered Sunday’s race as an early-season opportunity at his outdoor distance. Despite some form concerns, he had the win in hand early, running a 13.20.
“When I got to hurdle six, I caught myself over-rotating,” said Holloway, the reigning world champion in the distance. “I have been fixing the latter half of my race between the indoor season and the outdoor season.”
While Miller-Uibo and Holloway used the Boost Boston Games to show their prowess, Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa used the men’s 200m as another step on his comeback trail. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 400m tore his ACL during a celebrity rugby race in 2017 and has raced minimally since that injury.
van Niekerk got off to a good start in the 200m, finding himself neck and neck with Canadian Jerome Blake and Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain. But with 20 meters to go, he pulled up his right leg and took himself out of contention. van Niekerk limped off the track, and his coach issued a statement post-race that he was suffering from hip tightness. Blake pushed ahead of Hughes with four meters to go, winning by 0.04 seconds, a personal best.
“I tightened up a little bit, then I dipped and I came up with the win,” said Blake.
In the men’s 200m hurdles, Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos battled American Amere Lattin jump-for-jump. As soon as Dos Santos’ foot landed after his last hurdle, he propelled himself to take the lead on the straightaway and won with a 22.12, just two-tenths off the street world record.
Americans finished 1-2 in the last race of the afternoon, the men’s 100m. Isiah Young pulled off the upset of teammate Noah Lyles by .16.
In the morning races, Californian Nikki Hiltz ran a world-leading time of 4:31 to capture the women’s mile title. Clayton Murphy led an American sweep of the men’s mile with a time of 4:01. Natoya Goule of Jamaica edged out New Jersey native Ajee Wilson by two seconds in a closely contested women’s 600m.
In addition to races featuring some of the world’s best runners, the Boost Boston Games also featured Future Stars and high school races in the 100m and mile. Erriyon Knighton won the Future Stars 100m, running a personal best 10.16 and beating out three Jamaican runners. The Tampa native surprised many earlier this year by turning professional, forgoing not just the remainder of his high school career, but several D1 college football offers to play wide receiver. But the decision has paid off thus far; his winning time in the futures race would have landed him in third in the elite 100m.
“I executed my race,” said Knighton. “It was a pretty good time considering I was running into a headwind.”