ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For a couple of laps, Jeremy Johnson was the leader of a pack that included two of the world’s finest distance runners.
That situation didn’t last, nor did Johnson expect it to. But the former Manzano Monarch and New Mexico Lobo thoroughly enjoyed the experience of running against Olympians and American record holders Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp in a national championship race.
“It went pretty good,” Johnson said after finishing sixth in the 3,000-meter run at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center. “I wasn’t quite as fit as I wanted to be coming into this meet, but it’s wonderful to run here at home.
“This is one of the greatest places to race. I love it here.”
Johnson, running the 3,000 meters, led the race at the end of the second and third laps on the 200-meter Albuquerque Convention Center track.
“We weren’t going very fast (early),” he said, “so I thought just getting up there in the mix would be great.”
He eventually finished with a time of 8 minutes, 21.52 seconds, about 24 seconds off Lagat’s winning time.
The former Lobo said the race’s tactical nature — places being far more important than times, with a national title at stake — was a good learning tool.
“We’d pick it up, slow it down; that’s how these races are,” he said. “So you need to run them and you need to learn how to do it.”
BURNING IT UP: Colleen Burns of McIntosh, 61, finished fourth in a 60-meter women’s masters race.
Burns, a much-decorated senior runner and swimmer, ran a time of 9.55 seconds.
THE LATE 60s: Scheduled first-round races in the men’s and women’s 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles were canceled Saturday because there weren’t enough competitors to justify staging those races.
Semifinals and finals in those events will be contested today.
NICE PLACE TO RUN AND JUMP: The Convention Center track has consistently gotten high marks from the runners.
That goes for jumpers off the track, too, as least as far as Shakeema Welsch is concerned.
“I think the facility is awesome,” said Welsch, who won the women’s triple jump with a leap of 44-9¾.
Welsch did find the crowd to be on the quiet side, at least where her event was concerned.
“It’s pretty low-key here,” she said, “but I was able to utilize what I got and I went with it.”