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Kipchirchir, Kemp Race to Victory at the USATF 15 km Championships


JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir continued his USATF Running Circuit dominance, while Erika Kemp ran to her first national title Saturday morning in Jacksonville, Florida at the USATF 15 km Championships hosted by the Gate River Run, the second stop of the 2019 USATF Running Circuit. Click here for results.


A deep men’s field got off to a conservative start, with more than 20 competitors among the lead pack through the first 5 km of the race, as the temperature hovered around 55 degrees under partly cloudy skies. A great morning for racing early in the 2019 season.


As the men hit the four mile mark in 19:07, a number of top contenders started to push the pace ever so slightly, as Martin Hehir, Colin Bennie, Frankline Tonui, Kipchirchir, Leonard Korir and Stanley Kebenei solidified themselves up front.


With the lead pack passing through the half way point, the number of runners in the group continued to dwindle until pass through 10 km, it was clear Hehir, Bennie Tonui, Kipchirchir, Korir and Kebenei were the class of the field on the day.


The six men would run together for the next two miles, testing each other and figuring when they would each make their move to the finish. Bennie dropped off the pace and as the final stages approached, the lead pack was down to five.


With a mile to go, Kipchirchir, Korir and Kebenei were able to create a gap from Hehir and Tonui, as the three teammates ran stride for stride, working together but each focused on running a perfect finish.


With a quarter mile to go, the three were still running next to one another, as each threw in surges to try and outlast the others. It wasn’t until the final 50 meters of the race, when Kipchirchir pulled a half step ahead, holding off the other two for the win in 43:41.


Korir would outlast Kebenei for second in 43:42, while Kebenei finished with the same time in third. All three men will represent Team USATF at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships later this month in Denmark.


For Kipchirchir, Saturday’s victory gave him another 22.5 points to his USATF Running Circuit total, keeping him firmly atop of the overall standings with 37.5 points, nearly 10 points ahead of Korir’s second place total of 28 points, while Kebenei sits third with 21 points.


Behind the trio, Hehir maintained form to hold off Tonui for fourth, 43:59-44:00. Hehir’s training mate Bennie earned a sixth place finish in 44:17, while Jarrell Mock took home seventh place in 44:36.


Completing the top ten, Enoch Nadler crossed the line in eighth in 44:48, while Sammy Kosgei was ninth in 44:58 and Matt McDonald earned tenth in 45:23.


In the women’s race, a moderate early pace kept more than a dozen women in contention through the first third of the race, passing through 5 km in 17:12. Kemp, Olympian Shalaya Kipp, Bethany Sachtleben, Maggie Montoya and Kate Landau all took turns near the front.


As the lead pack paced through five miles, it was Rachel Schneider, Kipp and Kemp leading the way and while Schneider and Kipp would start to fall back as the leaders passed through the 10 km in 34:19, Kemp, Sachtleben, Montoya and Landau all kept together.


Just past the 10 km mark, Kemp and Sachtleben put in a surge to pull ahead of Landau and Montoya and for the next two miles the two ran in stride, continuing to grow their lead over the rest of the field.


In the final mile, Kemp started to pull away from Sachtleben. The USATF 5 km runner-up and recent tenth place finisher in the two mile at the USATF Indoor Championships used her superior seed to kick to her first national title, crossing the finish more than ten seconds ahead of Sachtleben in 50:54.


Sachtleben held on to earn second place in 51:08, well ahead of third place finisher Montoya, who ran a great race to claim third in 51:23.


Kemp’s victory secured her 22.5 points in the USATF Running Circuit standings, putting her in first place overall, while Sachtleben’s second place total earned her 18 points, while Montoya’s third place effort gave her 15 points and put her in a tie in third place overall with USATF Cross Country champion Shelby Houlihan.


Landau maintained form to place fourth overall in 51:35, while Bridget Belyeu held off track standout Schneider for fifth, both finishing in 51:40.


Rounding out the top ten, Bria Wetsch finished seventh in 51:50, Katy Jermann placed eighth in 52:20, while Alia Gray finished ninth in 52:27 and Kipp took home tenth in 53:01.


The next stop on the USATF Running Circuit takes place April 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, as the Grand Blue Mile hosts the USATF 1 Mile Road 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 $53,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 15 km Championships


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 15 km 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 2, 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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