Absegami’s Ford Palmer helped the New Jersey/New York Track Club break the world best in the indoor four-mile relay Friday at the Armory. Palmer split 3:59, and the quarter ran 16:12.81, breaking the mark of 16:16.67 set in 1993 by the New York Athletic Club.
Racing at the Artie O’Connor Invitational, Olympian and former Princeton star Donn Cabral led off with a 4:05.2 and Palmer followed with his 3:59.8 split. North Carolina State alum Graham Crawford, a late replacement for ailing Colby Alexander, split 4:08.6 in his first race of the year, and former Columbia star Kyle Merber anchored in 3:59.3.
The quartet was hoping to run sub-16 before Alexander was forced to drop out, but they still shattered the indoor world best time in an event that admittedly is not run very often. Because the four-mile relay is not an official IAAF event, the time is considered a world-best as opposed to a world record.
Interestingly, Artie O’Connor was the coach at Fordham when the Rams won the four-mile relay at the Penn Relays in 1963.
Palmer, who ran collegiately at Monmouth, has a mile PR of 3:56.79, fastest ever by a South Jersey native.
The NJ/NY Track Club is coached by legendary coach Frank Gagliano, and it’s not the first world record by one of his relay teams. And the last one included a South Jersey runner as well.
At the 1987 Penn Relays, coach Gags’ Georgetown distance medley team ran 9:20.96 at Franklin Field, the fastest time ever run. The 400 runner on that team was Lenape graduate Darron Outler, who split 46.9.
That mark is no longer the world record or even the college record but it remains No. 2 in college history behind Arkansas’ 9:20.10 two years later at Penn.
The NYAC’s record was set by Brad Horton, Jeff Smith, Brad Schlapak and Princeton star Bill Burke, who anchored in 3:59.4, at the 1993 Dartmouth Relays in Hanover, N.H.
The overall world record in the four-mile relay is 15:49.08, set in 1985 in Dublin by the Irish team of Eamonn Coghlan, current Villanova coach Marcus O’Sullivan, Frank O’Mara and Ray Flynn.
The U.S. best time – with all four runners being U.S. citizens – is 16:08.54, set by an Athletics West team in 1984 in Eugene by Dan Alrdige, Doug Padilla, Tom Smith and Chuck Aragon.