When we last saw our hero, he was breaking the four-minute mile, running 3:58.8 indoors. Last Thursday, Macklin Chaffee ’09 was fourth at the U.S. road mile championships in Minnesota. In this video, he is on the right side of the screen, wearing white:

With about 1/4 mile to go in the race, three guys take off and separate themselves from the field; Macklin beat everyone else in the race, but couldn’t catch the three of them, who ended up on the podium. Macklin reflected:

In the race I remember seeing it string out on the right side of the field (I was on the left) but I took a few seconds to decide to react and that was the difference of 10 meters plus the 5 meter jump they had before I recognized the move. […] My body’s signals still caused me to hesitate and not really start pushing until we got to that downhill. Once on it, I flew by the 4 guys I was with and set my sights on the breakaway pack of three. I honestly think I recovered a bit on that downhill and really felt good once it leveled off with 200 to go. […] I sincerly believe that last 200 would have been about the same even if I had pushed earlier with those guys before the downhill. The consequence of not going with them will be that I have to settle for 4th.

On the one hand, 4th is awesome! I won $800 and beat a lot of really good guys. But at the same time I didn’t give myself an opportunity to win, and in a race like this, with nothing but maybe a little cash on the line, this is the opportunity to throw yourself at the competition, assert your confidence in your fitness, and really give the other guy your best shot. I don’t feel like I did that today and that has me melancholic (Yes it’s a word. I looked it up).

Fourth place may well be the best a Williams runner (or athlete in general?) has placed in a national championship, at least in recent memory. Jenn Campbell ’05 was ninth American at the 5k road championships in 2010. Macklin is training for the Olympics, aiming to be one of the top three Americans in his event (the 1500m or 800m) by 2012.

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