INDIANAPOLIS – Reigning USA 10 Mile champion Christo Landry (Ann Arbor, Michigan) continued his excellent 2014 racing season Saturday morning at the USA 25 km Championships, hosted by the Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by tying the American 25 km record of 1:14:18 set by Mo Trafeh in 2013.
The USA 25 km Championships are the sixth stop on the USA Running Circuit, which concludes this fall with the .US National Road Racing Championships. The top ten finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the .US National Road Racing Championships.
Landry and 2013 USARC overall winner Shadrack Biwott (Eugene, Oregon), along with Chris Solinsky (Madison, Wisconsin) and Tyler McCandless (Boulder, Colorado), set the tone early, taking the pace out rather conservatively, allowing a pack to form for much of the first portion of the race.
Just past six miles, Landry and Biwott started to push the pace, slowly working their way away from Solinsky and McCandless. As the duo passed the half way mark in 36:59, under American record pace, they had clearly established themselves as the top two Americans.
Running nearly stride for stride for the next handful of miles, the two worked together to push the pace and distance themselves from the chase pack. Through 13 miles in 1:01:01, it looked to be either athletes’ race, as fans started to take notice that the final kick to the finish would decide this year’s winner.
As the runners passed the 14 mile mark, Landry started to inch away from Biwott, and as they passed the 15 mile point, with half a mile to go, it was clear Landry would pull away for his second big win of the 2014 season. As Landry crossed the finish line, hands raised victoriously, Biwott closed strong, finish 13 seconds back in 1:14:30.
As Landry and Biwott caught their breath, Solinsky rolled in to an impressive third place finish. The former American record holder for 10,000 on the track completed the longest race of his career in 1:16:43, well behind Landry and Biwott, but well ahead of fourth place finisher McCandless. McCandless finished in 1:17:52, while Abdelaaziz Atmani placed sixth in 1:08:02. Zach Ripley and Nicholas Hilton rounded out the top eight.
In the women’s race, Northern Arizona Elite’s Kellyn Johnson Taylor (Flagstaff, Arizona) pulled away from the field early, never looking back, running to her first U.S. road title in 1:25:25. From the gun, Johnson Taylor broke free of the competitive lead back, as she rushed through the first three miles in 16:03.
Through five miles, Johnson Taylor had a lead well over 100 meters, which only continued to grow from there. The quick early pace put the Flagstaff-based runner on American record pace, as she quietly eyed Olympian Janet Bawcom’s record of 1:24:36 set in 2012.
As Johnson Taylor continued to pull away from the rest of the field, defending champion Dot McMahan (Oakland Township, Michigan) and Mattie Suver (Colorado Springs, Colorado) established themselves in second and third position, keeping in control and happy to control the chase pack.
By mile eight, Johnson Taylor was 15 seconds ahead of Bawcom’s American record, but the most challenging part of the course lay ahead. As she entered the rolling hills past mile 10, Johnson Taylor’s pace slowed, running equal to American record pace as she passed by mile 11. However, as mile 12 approached, it was clear she had fallen off pace and was now more focused on maintaining her lead with an eye on her first U.S. title.
Into the homestretch, Johnson Taylor smiled, crossing the line victoriously. McMahan pulled away from Suver over the final part of the race to place second overall in 1:27:17, while Suver held tough for third in 1:27:32.
The next trio ran incredibly close over the final stages of the race, but it was Suver’s teammate Brianne Nelson who separated herself and came across the finish line fourth overall in 1:27:57. Heather Cappello took home fifth place overall in 1:28:06, while Lauren Jimison rounded out the top six in 1:28:15, nearly two minutes ahead of seventh place Marci Gage.
In the overall USARC standings, Landry’s winning effort vaulted him into the top spot on the men’s side, as he easily surpassed former leader Chris Derrick and now holds a commanding ten point lead as we approach the second half of the USARC season. Johnson Taylor’s effort pushed her from a 14th place tie to third place overall with 23 points, sitting only behind Bawcom’s leading total of 27 points and teammate Amy Van Alstine’s total of 25 points.
About the USARC
The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA 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 $32,800 in prize money was awarded at the USA 25 km Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (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 USARC is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush