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O’Sullivan doesn’t run, but wins Millrose prize

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Marcus O’Sullivan didn’t run in the Wanamker Mile at the Millrose Games last Friday evening.

Well, he does have an excuse. The five-time Wanamaker Mile champion is now 40 and confines his competitive running to the masters circuit.

But it was hard not to think that if O’Sullivan had brought along his running shoes to Madison Square Garden, he might have had a chance for Wanamaker number six.

He didn’t. But the Cork-born resident of Philadelphia was a winner on the night anyway.

Along with some of the leading names in track athletics over the last 50 years, O’Sullivan was inducted into the Millrose Games Hall of Fame.

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Some people have to wait for years after they quit competition to be so honored.

O’Sullivan’s exit from top flight running, by contrast, is especially recent.

Indeed, his feet are still pounding the boards.

O’Sullivan, without much fanfare, broke the world 3,000 meters indoor record for master runners only a few days before last Friday evening’s Millrose meet.

But the Millrose honor was more on his mind last week.

“The Millrose is very dear to my heart and I am deeply honored to be accepted into the hall of fame. It happened sooner than I expected,” O’Sullivan said.

That he was expecting the honor at some point after his retirement is no surprise. O’Sullivan’s record as a world-class middle distance runner invites such expectation.

In addition to his five Wanamakers, O’Sullivan was a three-time world indoor 1,500-meter champion and has more sub-4-minute miles to his name than any other miler in track history.

These days, however, he spends more time writing against the clock than running against it.

O’Sullivan coaches NCAA Div. I track at Villanova University, the college that gave the necessary kick start to so many great Irish middle distance runners down the years.

“I’m crazy busy. There’s tons of paperwork and administrative work. The actual coaching is the refreshing work,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan is the most notable Irish runner of any age in Villanova right now. There appears to be bit of a gap in what was a veritable middle distance pipeline linking Ireland with Villanova in years past.

This was reflected in the Millrose event last Friday night. The sole Irish standout was Daniel Caulfield of Roscommon and the Bronx, who came second in the 800 meters.

“But there are a couple of very good kids in Ireland that we’re keeping an eye on,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan has his eye on something other than future possible track stars. Believe it or not, he’s not done with outdoor sub-4 mile attempts.

“I’m hoping to try for one in four or five months, if time permits,” he said.

The pun may or may not have been intended.

But Marcus O’Sullivan’s intention with regard to running fast miles is quite clear.

As far as he’s concerned, you don’t have to be sub-40 to run under the still classic barrier that separates the great athletes from the also-rans.

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