Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Festival of Miles Is Bigger, Better Than Ever

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Festival of Miles Is Bigger, Better Than Ever

Article excerpt

Shannon Leinert did not expect to return to the Festival of Miles when she left the event at St. Louis University High last year.

She had won the 800 meters for the first time in six tries and was ready to enter the working world after taking one more shot at reaching the Olympics.

What wasn't known was that Leinert (Eureka High) had run in the 2016 event on a stress fracture in her left foot that kept her from training for a month before the race. The injury left her at less than full strength when she competed in July at the Olympic Trials, where she finished last in her preliminary heat.

"I didn't want to go out like that," she said. "And work-wise, I didn't get a full-time job, so it worked out that I could run and work part time. I planned on retiring but things seeemed to decide to keep me running."

Leinert will participate Thursday in the 10th Festival of Miles, which has blossomed into a well-regarded track meet one that seems to hook many participants who return year after year.

From Olympic hopefuls to up-and-coming high school phenoms, the array of races is packed with talent that draws a full house to the SLUH track for a close-up look at some serious speed.

Leinert is not the only defending champion in the field. Jordan McNamara will seek to win the men's pro mile for the fifth time. Adding to the intrigue of the men's mile is the addition of Texas high schooler Reed Brown, who hopes to become the 11th prep runner to break four minutes.

Although Leinert's most serious running days are in the past "I've kind of got one foot in, one foot out" she is back because she wants to finish her career on a stronger note. She also wants to be part of an event that has become a staple for her before moving on to other competitions.

"It's the atmosphere," she said. "The fact that you can have such a good amount of people close to the track makes it feel intimate like a community and you have just a really special venue."

Leinert, who won three state titles in the 800 at Eureka, has been living and training in San Diego. …

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