Nikki Hiltz made her first-ever trip to Boston to compete at the Boston Athletic Association Invitational Mile on April 13 and did what she’s been doing throughout her prestigious running career.
The Aptos native walked away as this year’s winner finishing in 4 minutes, 40.1 seconds in the women’s invitational mile.
It was the same exact time as runner-up Emily Lipari, but Hiltz was announced the winner after a five-minute wait.
“It was a dive at the line,” Hiltz said.
Shannon Osika (4:40.7) took third, Heather Kampf was fourth (4:40.8) and Helen Schlactenhaufen (4:45.6) placed fifth to round off the top-5.
Hiltz earned $3,000 for her first place finish.
Hiltz said she went from fourth to first place in a quick burst, making up about 50-meters in a flash, and moving ahead of Lipari and Osika, a 2018 runner-up, on the final stretch on Boylston Street.
“I know (Lipari) is such a good kicker and I knew I had to run completely through the line if I wanted a shot to beat her,” said Hiltz about Lipari, who happen to be training partners. “It’s kind of crazy, I looked up to her my whole running career and to be competing against her until the very end was an awesome experience.”
The race, which begins on Boylston Street, is three loops around a block about 500-meters in distance and ends at the Boston Marathon finish line, where the crowd awaited for the finishers.
“I think the crowd brought me home and it was a super close finish,” Hiltz said.
Hiltz said most of the runners were conservative during the first two laps. It wasn’t until the third and final lap when everybody finally took off.
Hiltz eventually passed everybody up, including Lipari and the rest of the pack.
“I think the first two laps I was feeling it out,” she said. “I realized, I think taking it wide was the smarter choice and that’s kind of what I did on the final turn.”
Hiltz mentioned the course was pretty unique because of the electric crowd and layout of the course was unique because she never has to turn left so many times throughout a race.
Still, Hiltz said the mile race is like an exhibition race to get the crowd and running community hyped up prior to the Boston Marathon, which took place Monday.
Hiltz said it was neat to be a part of what she calls the running community, especially those who qualified to run in the Boston Marathon.
“I was really enjoying the big crowd and walking up to the startline,” she said. “So, I really wanted to put on a show just because it was such an enthusiastic crowd.”
BAA Invitational Mile