Olympic bronze-medalist and Boston-area native Shalane Flanagan will headline the field for a new B.A.A. Invitational Mile on April 19, the Boston Athletic Association announced today.

The Invitational Mile, to be held in conjunction with the inaugural B.A.A. 5K the day before the 113th Boston Marathon, will feature mile races for professional men and women, plus mile races for scholastic girls and boys from Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston - the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon course. The races, which will be run criterium-style in the Back Bay, will end at the Boston Marathon finish line.

The B.A.A. Invitational Mile is another event we're excited to add to race weekend this year, said Guy Morse, B.A.A. Executive Director. It's a great opportunity to give the young athletes from our host cities and towns the chance to compete on the homestretch of the Boston Marathon course, and we're especially proud to carry on a B.A.A. tradition of hosting scholastic races. Add to that the professional miles and the B.A.A. 5K, and we expect a fun and successful day.

The Boston Athletic Association has offered scholastic races as far back as 1890, including the B.A.A. Schoolboy Games that began in the mid-1900s and ran through the early 1970s.

In that spirit, it is fitting that Flanagan highlights the professional races: Flanagan was a high-school star at nearby Marblehead (MA) High School.

Flanagan brought home the bronze medal at 10,000 meters from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She is only the second American woman to win an Olympic medal at 10,000 meters, after Lynn Jennings's bronze in 1992. The 27-year-old Flanagan also holds four American records on the track, at 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters outdoors and 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters indoors, and has had good fortune competing in front of home-town crowds in Boston: both indoor American marks were set in Boston.

The series of races in the B.A.A. Invitational Mile will begin with the girls' scholastic race at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, April 19, immediately after the B.A.A. 5K, a new road race that will begin at 8 a.m. The Mile will follow a three-loop course, beginning on Boylston Street, left on Dartmouth Street, left on Newbury Street, left on Exeter Street then left onto Boylston. Both the 5K and Mile will begin on Boylston Street near Copley Square Park, and end at the Boston Marathon finish line. Registration for the 5K is available at www.baa.org; the field is limited to 4,000 runners and is filling up fast.

Total prize purse for professional miles is $14,500 divided equally between men and women, including $3,000 for the champion.

Additional information about the B.A.A. Invitational Mile, the B.A.A. 5K, the Boston Marathon and the Boston Athletic Association can be found online at www.baa.org.

Boston Athletic Association Established in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit organization with a mission of managing athletic events and promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A.'s Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, and the organization manages other local events, including the B.A.A. Half Marathon presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs. Since 1986, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been John Hancock Financial.