Nick Willis wins New York City road mile race

MARC HINTON
Last updated 11:35 23/09/2013
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flotrack_trackisback / Instagram

VICTORIOUS: Nick Willis makes it look easy as he wins the Fifth Avenue Mile.

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New Zealand's Nick Willis has won the prestigious Fifth Avenue Mile in New York for the second time.

The 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the 1500 metres won the race down the Big Apple's iconic avenue in 3 minutes, 52.1 seconds to edge Americans Bernard Lagat and Garrett Heath. Willis also won the event in 2008 when he clocked 3:50.5s to pip Lagat for the men's race honours.

After his victory Wills wrapped himself in a New Zealand flag and took a victory lap, high-fiving cheering spectators.

"I'm just starting to come into form right now," said Willis, who suffered calf injury May 15 when he fell during a race in Shanghai. "It's a shame there aren't more races."

Willis told Marathon News Service he was surprised to find himself in the lead when a huge gust of wind shook things up with 500 metres remaining.

"I didn't really want to [be out front]," he said, "but it was very comfortable coming into the end."

On his Facebook fan page, Willis wrote, "Pleased to have ended my season with a victory. A fun day on 5th Avenue..."

The annual race has been contested since 1981 and begins at East 80th Street and heads straight down Fifth Avenue to East 60th Street.

Kiwi middle distance great John Walker was the first New Zealander to win the race when he prevailed in 1984, but Willis has now surpassed him with his second triumph.

American Jenny Simpson, the 2011 world champion, won the women's race in 4:19.3. Fellow American Morgan Uceny was second.

It was also Simpson's second triumph in the annual event.

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- Fairfax Media

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