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Bruce, Lagat Kick to Victory in Atlanta at the USATF 10 km Championships


ATLANTA, Georgia – Stephanie Bruce and Bernard Lagat outlasted tough competition Wednesday morning at the USATF 10 km Championships, using their superior closing speed to earn victories, as runners fought warm temperatures and humidity in Atlanta during the sixth stop on the USATF Running Circuit, hosted by the AJC Peachtree Road Race.


As the women’s race got underway, it was Emma Bates taking over early pacing duties, as a pack of nearly a dozen runners formed behind the former Boise State standout. Bates would lead the early miles, with other top contenders sitting comfortably in the pack just off her right shoulder.


Just after two miles, defending champion Aliphine Tuliamuk made her way to the front of the pack and shared pacing duties with Bates. With all eyes on when Tuliamuk would make her move, the pack quickly dwindled and as the leaders passed the halfway mark in 15:50, it was Tuliamuk, training partner Stephanie Bruce, Sara Hall, Allie Kieffer and Gwen Jorgensen separating themselves from the rest of the field.


By mile four, Tuliamuk had surged yet again, gapping her competition significantly, seemingly doing enough to outlast the competition. Hall and Bruce paired up, doing their best to hang on, while Kieffer and Jorgensen fell out of sight.


At mile five, it seemed Tuliamuk would rack up yet another USATF Running Circuit win, but all of a sudden Bruce was starting to catch her teammate. Stride by stride Bruce pulled closer to Tuliamuk, creating a dramatic setup to a Fourth of July finish.


With less than half a mile to go, Bruce was able to catch and then pass Tuliamuk. With arms pumping and charging to the finish, Bruce could not be stopped, crossing the finish victoriously with a fist pump in 32:21. Tuliamuk would settle for second in 32:29.


A win earned the Flagstaff-based Bruce another 15 points on the USATF Running Circuit, moving her into second place overall with 30 points. Tuliamuk’s runner-up effort extended her USATF Running Circuit standings lead another 10 points, currently sitting well ahead of the field with 55 points.


Behind the duo it was Hall hanging on for third place, picking up another fine result on the season with a 32:41 showing. Kieffer was able to outlast Jorgensen to the finish, taking home fourth in 32:52, while Jorgensen earned fifth place on the morning with a 33:10 effort.


The early pacing duties didn’t hinder Bates all that much, as she finished sixth overall in 33:15, while Molly Grabill earned seventh in 33:25 and Sarah Pagano took eighth in 33:31. Rosa Moriello and Maddie Van Beek wrapped up the top ten with 33:46 and 33:57 performances of their own.


The men’s race kicked off ten minutes after the start of the women’s race. While the large pack got off to an honest pace, it was Augustus Mayo storming to the lead and building a ten second lead in the first mile of the race.


Mayo’s early break carried on for another mile, but as the runners passed two miles, Mayo eventually was caught by the pack and ultimately the early pace cost the U.S. Army runner dearly, as he finished outside of the top ten.


With a large contingent still packed up, it wasn’t until fellow U.S. Army runners Haron Lagat and Elkanah Kibet, along with Lopez Lomong, took the lead around mile four that the pace shifted and the pack was split up.


Lagat, Lomong, Tyler Pennel and five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat eventually outlasted the rest of the field, as the quartet made their way towards what would be a glorious finish. Each runner took their respective turn leading over the final mile and a half, with Bernard Lagat and Lomong eventually putting a slight gap on the other two with just under a mile to go.


Into the final half mile of the race it seemed to be a sprint to the finish between experienced 1500m runners Lagat and Lomong, but ultimately it was Lagat putting in one final surge to break Lomong, as the 43-year old stormed to victory in 28:45, an inspiring performance in Independence Day.


Behind Lagat, it was Haron Lagat claiming a big ten points on the USATF Running Circuit, outlasting Tyler Pennel 28:48-28:49. Sam Chelanga was able to fend off Lomong in the final stages of the race to claim fourth in 28:56, while Lomong took home fifth in 28:57.


Andrew Colley continued his fine season with a sixth place effort of 29:01, while Reid Buchanan finished seventh in 29:06. Martin Hehir claimed eighth in 29:16, Elkanah Kibet finished ninth in 29:19 and Chris Derrick finished tenth in 29:28, closing out the scoring.


With his fourth place showing, Chelanga earned another seven points to his USATF Running Circuit total, giving him 55 points overall and sole possession of first place, as he overtook Leonard Korir and his 51 point total.


The USATF Running Circuit resumes on September 3, as tough and talented fields compete at the USATF 20 km Championships in New Haven, Connecticut.


About the USATF Running Circuit


The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF road series featuring USATF championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $61,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 10 km Championships.


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 10 km Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.


The mission of the USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.


Contributed by Scott Bush

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