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Korir, Hasay use furious finishes to capture titles at the USATF 15 km Championships

3/11/2017
 

JACKSONVILLE, Florida -- Competitive fields led to fast times and close finishes Saturday, as Olympian Leonard Korir and Jordan Hasay continued their strong 2017 campaigns with big victories at the USATF 15 km Championships in Jacksonville, Florida, hosted by the Gate River Run.

 

The USATF 15 km Championships are the second stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit. Next up on the circuit, the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 25.

 

From the gun, the men’s pack was significant in size and in speed. The lead pack of over a dozen athletes hit the first mile in 4:40, only to push the pace that much harder to pass through two miles in 9:08.

 

With training mates Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir, Sam Chelanga, Korir, Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo and Stanley Kebenei packing up and pushing the pace, much of the lead pack eventually fell off the back through the first half of the race.

 

The men passed through the 5 km mark in 14:16, with Team USA Minnesota’s Abbabiya Simbassa joining the mix of talent. The pace held steady and it wasn’t until nearly 5 km later that the race really started to shake out.

 

The lead pack whittled itself down to nine through the 10 km mark, with Kipchirchir, Chelimo, Chelanga, Korir and Atlanta Track Club’s Kirubel Erassa leading the charge. The nine men held together for much of the final third of the race, until Kipchirchir and Chelanga pushed the field, which thinned out the lead pack with a mile to go.

 

The pack of nine quickly became a pack of four, with Kipchirchir, Chelanga, Kibenei and Korir matching each move with their own. The quartet pushed the pace, catching the lead women, assuring whoever won on the day would also capture the equalizer bonus.

 

Into the final half mile, Korir and Kipchirchir pulled away from Chelanga and Kebenei and it was officially a two-man race for the win. The two Colorado Springs-based athletes went stride for stride until the final 100 meters, when Korir pulled ahead ever so slightly, holding off Kipchirchir for the victory, as the two men both finish in 43:23.

 

Behind the furious finish, Chelanga edged Kebenei over the final stretch to take third in 43:28 to Kebenei’s 43:29. Chelimo hung on as best he could over the final mile to take home fifth overall in 43:47, while Erassa finished off a terrific race for the 23-year old from Georgia to take sixth in 43:56.

 

Rounding out the men’s top ten, Jonathan Grey ran a strong race from start to finish, placing seventh overall in 44:00, narrowly edging out Simbassa, who took home eighth in 44:05. Colorado residents Hillary Bor and Parker Stinson placed ninth and tenth respectively in 44:22 and 44:36.

 

While the men had a pack of nine lead the way for much of the race, the women had a pack of six. After the first two miles, the group of Hasay, Emily Infeld, Aliphine Tuliamuk, Laura Thweatt, Neely Gracey and Natosha Rogers worked together to pull away from the rest of the field. The group ran incredibly even throughout, passing through the first two miles in 10:41, then hitting the four mile mark in 21:22.

 

Tuliamuk, Infeld and Thweatt took turns leading the pack, with Tuliamuk doing most of the early work, a usual staple of her racing style. Little changed until there were two miles to go, when reigning USATF Cross Country champion Tuliamuk started to fall off the back, which left the group at five.

 

With one mile to go, Rogers started to struggle, while Thweatt pushed the pace. The group now a quartet, kept intact, that is until Hasay made an explosive move, pushing to the front and hammering the next half mile. Hasay’s move strung out the lead pack, Thweatt and Gracey falling off with Infeld trying her best to stay with.

 

Hasay simply could not be beat though, building on her impressive half marathon debut earlier in the season. The Nike Oregon Project athlete ran tough over the final half mile, finishing in victorious fashion with a 49:28 time.

 

Behind Hasay, Infeld held together through the finish, placing second in 49:42, while Gracey finished five seconds back in third in 49:47. Thweatt kept her pace as best she could to take fourth in 49:54, while Rogers and Tuliamuk placed fifth and sixth respectively in 50:01 and 50:11.

 

While the top six finishers clearly solidified themselves early on, the fight for a top ten finish and USATF Running Circuit points continued, with Kaitlin Goodman running to a seventh place finish in 50:53, well ahead of Elvin Kibet and Liz Costello, who took home eighth and ninth respectively in 51:01 and 51:05. Kim Conley finished up the scoring with a tenth place showing in 51:30.

 

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 $58,000 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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