INDIANAPOLIS - Linda Somers-Smith (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after finishing 8th in the open women’s race at the USATF National Club Cross Championships in Seattle on Dec. 10.
© Mike Scott
Somers-Smith of the Asics Aggie Running Club was the oldest competitor in the open race at age 50; however, she found that to be no obstacle in beating athletes as young as 18 years old. Had Somers-Smith raced in the masters division, she would have out paced the leader by nearly two minutes.
For Somers-Smith, her decision to run in the open race was an easy one.
“It is all about the team,” Somers-Smith said. “I’m not really motivated to race individually, but the concept of running with the team is everything. That is why I did it. The team needed me in the open race so that is why I ran the open.”
Somers-Smith covered the 6 kilometer cross country course in 20:27, which breaks down to 5:29 pace per mile. Her effort lead the way for the Aggie’s to finish 8th out 32 teams. For comparison, if Somers-Smith ran the same time in this year’s NCAA DI cross country championships, she would have placed in the top 40.
Somers-Smith is an Olympian from the 1996 Marathon as well as a two-time national champion in the marathon. She has qualified for seven U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and will compete in the 2012 edition in Houston next month.
“I don’t tell myself ‘oh I shouldn’t be running these times,’” Somers-Smith said. “I don’t define what I can or can’t do and I think that helps. Once you tell yourself ‘I’m too old; they’re too young; they’re too fast,’ then of course it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when you tell yourself that it doesn’t matter, sometimes you are able to pull things off.’”
Now in its tenth year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on www.usatf.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
Winners: January 5, Bill Tribou; January 12, Tyler Sorensen; January 20, Josh Cox; January 26,Ben Shorey; February 2, Ashton Eaton; February 9, Ashton Eaton; February 16, Bernard Lagat; February 23, Ryan Crouser; March 2, Jillian Camarena-Williams; March 10, Bill Collins; March 16, Miles Batty; March 23, Shalane Flanagan; March 30, John Nunn; April 6, Aries Merritt; April 13, Gunnar Nixon; April 20, Desiree Davila; April 27, Nolan Shaheed; May 4, Emma Coburn; May 11, Willie Gault; May 18, English Gardner; May 25, Kibwé Johnson; June 1, Khadevis Robinson; June 8, Carmelita Jeter; June 15, Lukas Verzbicas; June 22, Aisling Cuffe; June 29, Trevor Barron; July 6, Aldrich Bailey; July 13, Jillian Camarena-Williams; July 20, Johnnye Valien; July 27, Bernard Lagat; August 3, Marcus Krah; August 9, Leo Manzano; August 17, Magdalena Lewy Boulet; August 24, Brigetta Barrett; September 7, LaShinda Demus; September 14, Kasie Enman; September 21, Galen Rupp; September 28, Max King; October 5, Kathryn Martin; October 13, William Boland; October 19, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom; October 26, Michael Wardian; November 2 Sara Hall; November 9, Meb Keflezighi; November 16, Shalane Flanagan; November 23, Ryan Haebe; November 30, Dave Talcott; December 7, Ryan Bak; December 15, Linda Somers-Smith