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Chelimo, Sisson stride to victory at the USATF 5 km Championships


NEW YORK CITY – Olympic medalist Paul Chelimo kicked to victory on the men’s side, while Emily Sisson ran away from her competition early on, both claiming wins Saturday morning in New York City at the USATF 5 km Championships, hosted by the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K.


From the gun, Chelimo, along with U.S. Army teammates Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei, jumped to the lead and pushed a very fast early pace, which split the field into two packs. Kirubel Erassa, Emmanuel Bor and a few other athletes tried to keep pace with the trio up front, but by the mile it was clear those three would dominate the rest of the way.


Kebenei and Kipchirchir handled much of the upfront race pacing for the next mile and a half, seemingly taking turns in the lead while negotiating the streets of New York City. As the lead trio made their way past the second mile marker as they charged ahead into Central Park, it seemed only a matter of time before one of the runners made a move.


With just under three-quarters of a mile to go, Chelimo and Kipchirchir put in a surge that Kebenei could not cover and just like that it was a two man race.


With a half mile to go, Chelimo overtook Kipchirchir and made his move to the finish. Kipchirchir dropped back a stride, but was still in contact with Chelimo. Kipchirchir, who entered Saturday’s race as the defending champion, knew the final quarter mile was on a slight uphill and gave one last push to try and pass Chelimo.


Chelimo kept his ground up front, with Kipchirchir still stride for stride. With 100 meters to go, Chelimo got a step on Kipchirchir and ran the tangent to the finish, holding off Kipchirchir in the process, as both men finished in 13:45, Chelimo claiming the title. Kebenei hung on and ran to an impressive third place finish in 13:53.


Behind the lead trio, Nike Oregon Project star Eric Jenkins led the chase pack, kicking to a fourth place finish in 14:00, the same time fifth place finisher Bor would record. Erassa earned another strong finish at the USATF 5 km Championships with a sixth place finish in 14:01, while USATF Running Circuit standings leader Leonard Korir placed seventh in 14:02.


With his seventh place finish, Korir earned his second consecutive USATF Running Circuit title. With a total of 95.5 points, Korir cannot be caught in the standings with only one event to go, 40.5 points ahead of Sam Chelanga, who is currently in second place with 55 points. Kebenei’s third place finish moved him into sole possession of third place in the overall standings with 40 points.


Rounding out the top ten, Matthew Centrowitz ran a strong race to place eighth overall in 14:02, while Josef Tessema and Willy Fink beat other top pros to earn ninth and tenth place in 14:05 and 14:07.


In similar fashion, the women’s race was hard-fought throughout, but it was Sisson taking the lead from the gun, a position she would never relinquish.


Sisson ran the first mile at the front of the lead pack, but wasn’t alone with the likes of Olympians Amy Cragg, Kim Conley and Shalaya Kipp, along with top returnee Lauren Paquette running right on her shoulder.


Sisson, who trains with 2017 champion Molly Huddle in Providence, Rhode Island, used a similar tactic to what Huddle did the prior year, upping her pace throughout the second mile, a pace no one else in the field could handle. As Sisson passed through mile two, she was 12 seconds ahead of the chase pack and the gap continued to grow.


Running alone in Central Park, Sisson kept an even pace and her strong stride allowed her to manage the final mile with ease, as she coasted in for an impressive victory in 15:38.


Behind Sisson, former NC State standout Erika Kemp ran an incredible final half of the race to overtake the rest of the field and finish a surprise second. Kemp, running in her first road 5k, finished in 15:50, four seconds ahead of World Championship marathon medalist Cragg, who took home third in 15:54.


Conley ran a great race, one she needed coming off a difficult and injury-filled 2018 campaign, finishing fourth in 16:01. Kipp hung on off the early pace to place fifth in 16:03.


Rounding out the women’s top ten, Emily Durgan edged Paquette and Aisling Cuffe for sixth in 16:05, as Paquette and Cuffe both finished with a time of 16:06 in seventh and eight, respectively. Former University of Colorado standout Erin Clark placed ninth in 16:07, while Allie Buchalski finished tenth in 16:09.


The final stop of the 2018 USATF Running Circuit takes place on December 2, as the USATF Marathon Championships take place in Sacramento with more than $100,000 of prize money on the line.


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 $60,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 5 km Championships.


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 5 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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