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Leonard Korir defends title at 2018 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry International Challenge


EDINBURGH, Scotland -- It was deja vu for many Saturday as defending champion Leonard Korir once again made a push in the race’s final moments to win for Team USATF at the 2018 Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry International Challenge at Holyrood Park in Scotland.

Watch the action again with on demand video and interviews available later on USATF.TV+.

Korir (Colorado Springs, Colorado), along with fellow previous champion Garrett Heath (Seattle, Washington) as well as Emmanuel Bor (Colorado Springs, Colorado), started the 8km strong and moved to the lead pack following the first big lap. As the competition continued, Korir was consistent in his efforts to stay on top of Europe’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen. With 1km to go, the 2016 Olympian still sat in second but made his presence known as he began to kick into overdrive. Korir overtook Ozbilen toward the end in another photo finish, similar to his win last year, to bring home gold for Team USATF in 24:32 to Ozbilen’s 24:35. Heath, Bor, Chris Derrick (Portland, Oregon) and Trevor Dunbar (Boulder, Colorado) also finished in the top 10.

Earlier in the day, the international meet began with junior men taking to the damp course under cloudy skies. Illinois state champion Danny Kilrea (La Grange, Illinois) made his Team USATF debut and finished fourth in 19:24. On the women’s side, 16-year-old Kelsey Chmiel (Greenfield Center, New York) dominated the field, establishing a confident lead and maintaining position throughout her 14:10 4km run. Chmiel’s gold upgrades her NXN Nike Cross Nationals runner-up finish from late last year.

The competition ratcheted again for the senior women’s 6km featuring Olympic marathoner Desi Linden (Washington Township, Michigan), 2015 NCAA cross country champion Molly Seidel (Watertown, Massachusetts) and 2017 USATF Half Marathon champion Natosha Rogers (Litton, Colorado). Linden got out quickly however, it was Seidel who stayed with the lead pack as the pace intensified. Europe’s Yasmin Can created a substantial gap early on, followed by Great Britain’s Emelia Gorecka.

As the field chased Can, Seidel moved up to fourth and eventually overtook third position at the halfway mark. The remaining 3km became a battle for second between Seidel and Gorecka. The two slowly began to close the wide gap however, Can was safely on her way to first. Seidel nearly caught Gorecka as they approached the final stretch and earned Team USATF bronze in 21:04. Seidel previously finished third at Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge as a junior athlete in 2012.

The senior 4x1km mixed relay, where Team USATF took second in 2017, proved a difficult feat to repeat. Travis Mahoney (Old Bridge, New Jersey) started in second yet fell to fifth heading into the second leg. The trio of Rebecca Mehra (Palos Verdes Estates, California), Will Geoghegan (Brunswick, Maine), and Ayla Granados (Castro Valley, California) pushed through to the end to finish in 12:11.

USA finished third with 190 points behind Europe (182) and Great Britain (137). Full results from the 2017 Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge can be found here.

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