MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL – Cool weather and calm winds led to fast times Sunday morning, as Sam Chelanga and Jordan Hasay won in the final quarter mile of their respective races at the USATF 10 Mile Championships, hosted by the Medtronic TC 10 Mile.
The USATF 10 Mile Championships are the ninth stop on the 2016 USATF Running Circuit. The final race of the 2016 USATF Running Circuit is the USATF Women’s 10 km Championship, which take place on Monday, October 10 in Boston.
Given a 5 minute and 43 second head start over the men, with an equalizer bonus of $10,000 up for grabs, three-time USATF Running Circuit champion Aliphine Tuliamuk pushed the women’s race to a fast start, dragging the leaders out and quickly stringing out the pack.
Within the first two miles, the lead group had shrunk to four women, as Tuliamuk led, with Hasay, Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen and former NCAA champion Natosha Rogers in tow.
As the pace continued to grind along, Hasay crept up on Tuliamuk’s shoulder and ran stride for stride, while Sara Hall worked her way up into the lead group and Rogers eventually dropped off pace, leaving a quartet of runners still in contention.
Past the six mile mark, Hall simply could not hang with, having worked hard to catch the leaders in the first few miles of the race. With Hall dropping off, Tuliamuk, Hasay and Jorgensen now owned the top three.
Jorgensen, towering over the other two, tried valiantly to hang with, but Hasay and Tuliamuk started to pick up the pace with just under two miles to go and pulled away from the Olympic gold medalist.
Into the final mile Tuliamuk and Hasay came, running stride for stride, until with half a mile to go, Hasay put in a timely surge, putting a few strides on Tuliamuk, giving her enough confidence to keep charging up the final hill and striding her way to the victory, as well as the equalizer bonus having held off Chelanga.
Hasay’s winning time of 52:49 put her 12 seconds up on Tuliamuk, who held on for a runner-up finish and her fourth top two finish of the USATF Running Circuit season. Jorgensen finished well to take home third place in 53:13, while Hall hung tough in the final miles to grab fourth in 53:33.
Rounding out the top ten, Mara Olson ran a great second half of the race to place fifth overall in 54:18, edging out Maddie Van Beek who placed sixth in 54:23. After the fast start, Rogers held on to take seventh in 54:31, while Lindsey Scherf, who’s doubling back to run the USATF Women’s 10 km Championship on Monday placed eighth in 55:01. Belainesh Gebre took home the ninth place spot in 55:07, while Stephanie Bruce ran tenth in 55:20.
While the women’s race got off to a blazing start, the men’s race was a bit more tactical, as HOKA ONE ONE Norther Arizona Elite’s Ben Bruce led the way, challenging the field with an honest tempo, but ultimately settling back in with the 15-man pack, as they passed through three miles in 14:47 and four miles in 19:30, each comfortable splits for much of the main pack.
It wasn’t until six miles when the pace started to shift. Tim Ritchie and Chelanga gapped the field ever so slight, while Boulder-based Noah Droddy moved up onto their shoulder. As the trio hit the seven mile mark, they had clearly established themselves and the rest of the field seemed content to challenge for fourth.
The trio would sit together for the next mile and a half, until Droddy and Chelanga would begin their push to the finish. Ritchie could not respond to their moves and dropped off the back. The two leaders ran stride for stride, each feeling out the other and looking for any signs of weakness.
With half a mile to go, Chelanga shot to the lead, hammering the pace and putting a gap on Droddy. With the finish in sight, and charging up the final hill, Chelanga looked around knowing he had won, only to raise his hands in victory as he crossed the finish in 47:25, repeating his USATF 10 Mile Championship win, this time three seconds ahead of runner-up Droddy, who had the best race of his young career.
Ritchie held on gamely over the final mile to place third in 47:33, while young pros Martin Hehir and Matt McClintock used their track speed to pull away from the rest of the field, taking home fourth and fifth place in 47:48 and 47:53 respectively.
A mix of talented veterans completed the list of top ten finishers. Jonathan Grey ran tough over the final mile to dip under the 48-minute barrier with a sixth place time of 47:54, while Tyler Pennel took seventh overall in 48:10, three seconds ahead of Andrew Bumbalough in eighth place. Ben Payne and Brian Shrader earned ninth and tenth place finishes, crossing the line in 48:15 and 48:22 respectively.
In the USATF Running Circuit overall standings, Chelanga’s win moved him the big board to finish the year in second place with 44.5 points, well behind winner Christo Landry, who concluded the season with a whopping 64 points. Craig Lutz finished the season in third overall with 33 points.
On the women’s side, Tuliamuk’s victory moved her into first place in the overall standings with 63 points, well ahead of runner-up Tara Welling and her 46 points. Desi Linden sits third with 42 points, while Scherf is in fourth with 41.5 points and looks to pick up a few more points on Monday at the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships.
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 $81,000 in prize money is awarded at the USATF 10 Mile Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 10 Mile Championships, scoring is set as 22.5 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 10.5, 9, 7.5, 6, 4.5, 3 and 1.5, 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