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Korir, Hall Win Big with Strong Finishes at USATF 20 km Championships

9/3/2018
 

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – Warm and humid weather slowed Monday’s USATF 20 km Championships, but the finishes were thrilling, as Leonard Korir and Sara Hall outlasted strong fields over the final miles in New Haven, each claiming victory on Labor Day.

 

The USATF 20 km Championships, hosted by the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race, are the eighth stop on the 2018 USATF Running Circuit.

 

With the temperature hitting near 80 degrees at race start, with 90 percent humidity, both the men’s and women’s race got off to conservative starts, as runners gaged how the conditions would challenge them throughout the 12.4 mile race.

 

The men’s race, as expected, started with the U.S. Army contingent of Leonard Korir, Haron Lagat, Samuel Kosgei and Elkanah Kibet grabbing the lead and setting the tone.

 

As the men’s field, containing a dozen runners passed through the 5 km mark in 14:59, it was the Flagstaff duo of Kiya Dandena and Aaron Braun, along with USATF Running Circuit veteran Ahmed Osman, leading the charge. As quickly as those three made the race, things shifted when Korir and Lagat took over around 8 km.

 

As Korir, Lagat and Dandena hit mile ten, Korir put in a surge that would ultimately break the other two runners, while Braun tried valiantly to hang on in fourth, putting nearly 40 meters on both over the next half mile.

 

While Korir would slow ever so slightly over the final mile, he hung on for another big USATF Running Circuit victory, securing the win, his second in three years in New Haven, in 1:00:17.

 

Behind Korir, Lagat and Dandena battled mightly over the final two miles. Dandena seemed to have an edge with a mile to go, but Lagat battled back to regain the lead and hold on for second in 1:00:29. Dandena placed third in 1:00:34.

 

Behind the lead trio, Osman, Kibet and Kosgei ran within range of one another for the final 5 km. Osman ultimately held off the U.S. Army teammates, grabbing fourth overall in 1:01:43, edging Kibet’s 1:01:44 fifth place finish and Kosgei’s 1:01:49 sixth place finish.

 

Concluding the top ten, former Colorado State standout Jerrell Mock placed seventh in 1:02:14, while Martin Hehir took home an eighth place finish in 1:02:23. Hehir held off Braun, who struggled over the final stages of the race in 1:02:26, while Hansons-Brooks runner Brendan Gregg took tenth in 1:02:42.

 

Korir’s victory gives the reigning USATF Running Circuit overall champion the lead in this year’s standings, surpassing Sam Chelanga with 73.5 points to Chelanga’s 55 points. Hehir’s eighth place finish moves him past Scott Fauble for third, 31.5-28.5. Kosgei’s sixth place finish adds another 7.5 points to his total on the season, his 26.5 points placing him fifth in the overall standings.

 

While the men’s race was a three-man battle with 5 km to go, the same can be said about women’s race. A sizeable women’s lead pack got off to a moderate start, but the warm temperatures and humidity evaporated the field by the halfway point.

 

By the 10 km mark, the women’s race was a battle between Hall, Emma Bates and Allie Kieffer. The three ran side by side, challenging each other, while keeping the pace well within control, setting up an exciting finish.

 

Hall, Bates and Kieffer each took turns leading the race, but it was Bates who ended up doing much of the second half pacing. Running between 5:30-5:40 pace per mile, Bates charged ahead, the trio continuing the build their gap on the rest of the field.

 

With a mile to go, Hall and Kieffer pulled away from Bates, making it a two-woman race. Hall and Kieffer would run stride for stride until the final half mile, when Hall put in a major surge to put a gap on Kieffer the New York-based runner simply couldn’t cover.  

 

Hall dominated to the end, winning her first national title of the season in 1:09:04. Kieffer, who’s training towards the New York City Marathon, continued her strong 2018 campaign, holding on to second in 1:09:20.

 

Behind the duo, Bates held on to place an impressive third in 1:09:42, well ahead of fourth place Katie Matthews, who finished in 1:11:55, while USATF Running Circuit veteran Janet Cherobon-Bawcom ran a terrific second half of the race to place fifth in 1:12:21.

 

Rounding out the women’s top ten, Christina Vergera-Ale finished a surprise sixth, beating strong competition with a 1:12:38 performance. Maddie Van Beek took home seventh in 1:12:44, Bethany Sachtleben finished eighth in 1:12:55, Annmarie Tuxbury placed ninth in 1:13:12, while the fast early pace challenged Gabi Anzalone in the late stages of the race, hanging on to tenth overall in 1:13:44.

 

Hall’s victory gave her an impressive 22.5 points to her overall USATF Running Circuit standing total, as her 44.5 points sit her second, 12.5 points behind leader Aliphine Tuliamuk. Bates picked up another 15 points, moving her up to third overall with 44 points, while Kieffer’s second place effort shot her up the standings from 24th overall into sixth place with 25 points.

 

The next stop on the USATF Running Circuit takes place October 7 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, as the Medtronic TC 10 Mile hosts the USATF 10 Mile 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 $36,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 20 km Championships

 

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 20 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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