MINNEAPOLIS – For the third straight USATF Running Circuit race, Molly Huddle pulled away from the field early and simply ran away to an awe inspiring victory, as she cruised to a new course record Sunday morning at the USATF 10 Mile Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota, hosted by the Medtronic TC 10 Mile.
In the men’s race, Sam Chelanga won his first American title since becoming a U.S. citizen this summer. Chelanga used a tenacious kick to edge 2014 USATF marathon champion Tyler Pennel, as the two finished within a second of one another.
The USATF 10 Mile Championships are the ninth stop on the 2015 USATF Running Circuit. The top 15 finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the 2015 .US National 12K, which takes place on November 15 in Alexandria, Virginia.
From the first mile, Huddle set a pace none of her competition could match. As the runners passed through the first mile, Huddle already had a slight lead, which she would consistently grow every mile from then on out.
The chase pack behind Huddle early on would eventually fall to four runners, as Neely Spence Gracey, Laura Thweatt, Alexi Pappas and Alisha Williams took turns leading, setting their own pace while working together, which in the end led all four of them to top-five finishes and some very fast times.
Huddle passed through the halfway point in 25:55 and it was clear none of her competition would catch her this day, as she maintained a 5:10 per mile pace that simply could not be matched. Huddle glided up the hills and maintained form in the flat sections, showing once again why she’s one of the very best distance runners in the world.
As Huddle crossed the finish in 51:44, the Providence-based star not only took home another U.S. title and the equalizer bonus for edging the men, but came away with the course record by over 90 seconds. The previous course record was 53:16 by Kara Goucher in 2008.
Behind Huddle, Spence Gracey pulled away from the pack over the final mile, charging home for a runner-up finish in 53:03. Pappas hung on to finished an impressive third in 53:10, while Thweatt was able to distance herself enough from Williams to place fourth in 53:14. Williams closed well to finish fifth in 53:28.
Williams’ training partner Brianne Nelson placed sixth overall in 53:47, finishing well ahead of seventh place finisher Kellyn Taylor, who came in seventh with a time of 54:37. Portland-based Tara Welling finished eighth in 54:38. Four-time champion Bawcom hung on to place ninth in 54:45, just ahead of Maddie Van Beek, who took home tenth place in 54:52.
Unlike the women’s race, where Huddle simply ran away early, a pack of no fewer than a dozen men rolled together through the first half of the race. Led by Team USA Minnesota runner Parker Stinson and Minneapolis native Jonathan Grey, the lead pack came through the halfway mark in 23:43.
The pack remained intact until just past mile seven, when the fast pace started to string out the field. As Pennel took over the lead, Chelanga, Dathan Ritzenhein, Jim Spisak, Grey and Jacob Riley all hung on. The pace continued to shift faster, which eventually saw Grey and Riley fall off the back.
With two miles to go, Pennel continued to push. Spisak would eventually fade, and with less than a mile to go, Ritzenhein peeled off the trio, leaving Pennel and Chelanga to battle it out for the win.
The two battled over the final 100 meters, and just when it looked like Pennel might hang on for the win, Chelanga came charging by to win his first U.S. title in 46:47, one second ahead of Pennel.
Ritzenhein hung on to finish third in 46:53, as Spisak completed one of his best races in fourth with a time of 46:59. Grey hung on and ran a gutsy last two miles, finishing fifth overall in 47:12.
Rounding out the men’s top ten, Timothy Ritchie closed extremely well to edge Jacob Riley for sixth at the line, as both finished in 47:19. USATF Running Circuit standings leader Jared Ward placed eighth overall in 47:29, while reigning .US National 12K champion Brian Shrader placed ninth in 47:33 and Olympian Abdi Abdirahman finished tenth in 47:52.
The tenth stop on the USATF Running Circuit takes place Monday, October 12 as the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships take place in Boston.
About the USATF Running Circuit
The USATF Running Circuit is a USA Track & Field 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 was 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