State Record Snapshot - Mary Cain Fills Out Tally with 5K

While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. We're releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to put your mark on history. Tune in!

We are now looking at the records in a few events that are not at the outdoor States meet but definitely need to be highlighted. We look here at the longest distances ever run by the girls as we conclude the State Record Snapshot series for the outdoor events. Enjoy!

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The 5000 meter distance is done pretty rarely by the girls, and it's usually at New Balance Outdoor Nationals that any NY girls get a shot at it. Early in the last decade it was not a big favorite for the NY contingent following a 3rd for Nicole Irving of Shenendehowa in 2010. But then Arlington's Bella Burda copped a 6th at 2014 Nationals, East Aurora's Sophia Tasselmyer took 8th in 2015, and then it was off to the races. Corning's Jessica Lawson followed up a 3rd in 2016 with a win in 2017, as Webster Thomas's Amanda Vestri got 2nd. In 2018 Niskayuna's Abigaill Spears was 2nd, and then in 2019 Saratoga's Kelsey Chmiel finished 2nd to Marianapolis CT's Sydney Masciarelli while running what would have been a state record of 16:18.57 if another runner hadn't decided to raise a little Cain a few years earlier in a meet that was not the NBON.

While we are at it, we also give a nod to the longer 10,000m race and a Saratoga runner who was a legend back in the 1990s, setting the 10K record as a freshman. As with the guys, getting a time in the 10K was dependent on the Empire State Games which were a big event in New York during the mid summer decades ago.


She's back, and just as the State Record Snapshot series finishes off. And there is no better athlete to end it with than the runner who was featured already for the 800m, 1500m 3000m, and now the 5000m. And if you are wondering whether Mary Cain could also extend her range down to the 400m, the answer is yes, she was undefeated in three races for the the one-lap event at Bronxville, and we have one of them on film. Outside of XC, Cain has run only one 5K, and it came at the Portland Track Festival on June 8, 2013. Running officially unattached at that point though under the coaching guidance of the Nike Oregon Project, she had set a HS record of 4:04.62 in the 1500m at the Oxy High Performance meet in May. Cain's previous race was at the 800m distance two weeks earlier when she set the HS national record of 1:59.51. She was training to earn a place on the US team for IAAF World Championships in the 1500m (got that with a 2nd in a very slow tactical race at the USATF championships) and all of her races from mid June on were in the 1500m. So why do a stretch for the 5K at that point?

Cain's well-known coach at that time said that she was doing the 5K to attempt to get a qualifying mark in that event at the USATF championships in case anything got messed up in her 1500m quest. The USATF 5000m was one of the last events run on the final Sunday, but six runners would finish in that race with a much better time than Cain ran in Portland, and her training was devoted to the 1500m. Whatever the case, the national HS record for the 5K of 15:48.91 by Emily Sisson of Parkway Central MO in 2010 was a few seconds short of the qualifying mark Cain would need in Portland. Cain's 12 1/2 laps around the track brought her around to the finish among a big pack of pro runners in 6th place in a 15:45.46, a half second better than the qualifier she would have needed at USATF. Besides setting an all-time US record that has only been bested indoors by Katelyn Tuohy's 15:37.12 in 2018 at the VA Showcase, Cain also of course broke the NY mark of Saratoga's Nicole Blood of 16:30.90 from 2005 when she took 1st at US Juniors. Blood went on to finish 2nd at the Pan American Juniors championship.

Cain finished off her 2013 season at the IAAF Worlds as one of two Americans to get through prelims and semis in the 1500m. She finished 10th in the finals at 4:07.19 as US teammate and reigning champ Jenny Barringer Simpson took 2nd.


And the outdoor state record holders story would not be complete without a nod to yet another Saratoga distance legend besides Chmiel and Blood. Erin Davis was a four-time States and Federation XC champ starting with her wins as an 8th grader in 1992 and then in 1993, 1994, and 1996; a States winner indoors in the 3000m in 1993; and an outdoor champ in the 3000m in 1993, 1994, and 1997. She was the second NY winner at Foot Locker XC Nationals, following Mepham's Chris Curtin's 1982 win, when she captured the national title as a Saratoga freshman in 1993. She also placed 4th in 1994 and 7th in 1996. She is the only runner to chalk up four States XC titles in the largest class (Laura Whitney of Stony Brook got four, three in B and one in C, Brooke Rauber of Tully took four in D) and also the only one to win Feds four times.

As with all of the top times in the 10,000m for NY runners, Davis's top mark after her freshman season came at the Empire State Games when on August 4, 1994 she did 35:24.97 to win the race by almost four minutes. However, Davis might have been pushing it a little harder at the end to break the NY record of 35:25.78 set the year before by three-time States XC Class C winner Kate Landau of Tri-Valley. After graduation from Saratoga, Davis's career was beset by injuries she attributed to inconsistent training and a lack of motivation while at Penn State, but in later years she was back in running, doing no-pressure marathons upstate for the  fun of it. She remembers her favorite times in HS as being in her senior year in 1996 XC with a fun group of Blue Streaks runners that repeated the double States crown of team and individual champion that Davis had won with Saratoga in her freshman 1993 season.