INDIANAPOLIS - Neely Spence (Lake Orion, Mich.) has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after setting the course record at the HCA 8 km race in in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 10.
After running the first three miles of the race with her father Steve Spence, the 1991 World Outdoor Championships marathon bronze medalist, the younger Spence went on to win the women’s race in 25:22.
“I knew what the course record was going into the race, but it wasn’t a familiar distance for me,” Spence said. “I’d never run an 8 km before, so I felt like it might be a little bit ambitious to run the record pace of 5:05, when my goal was to run around 5:10 pace.”
The pace didn’t present a challenge to Spence as she broke the course record with two seconds to spare. Spence won the women’s race with more than 25 seconds separating her from second place. Her father, who served as her high school and college coach, finished in 25:45.
“My dad has been getting back into running and he said he would jump in and see what he could do,” Spence said. “It was really fun to be able to run with him.”
Spence will travel to Japan next week as a member of Team USA competing in the Chiba Ekiden relay.
“I’m really excited, and we have a great team put together,” Spence said. “My dad was on two ekiden teams, and he always looks back on those and talks about how awesome they were. It is neat that it is now my turn to have that experience.”
Now in its 11th 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.
2012 Winners: January 5, Landon Peacock; January 11, Kirubel Erassa; January 18, Shalane Flanagan; January 26, John Nunn; February 1, Gunnar Nixon; February 8, Jenn Suhr; February 14, Jillian-Camarena Williams; February 22, Brycen Spratling; February 28, Chaunte Lowe; March 7, Eric Broadbent; March 14, Ashton Eaton; March 21, Jeanne Daprano; March 27, Wallace Spearmon; April 3, Trevor Barron; April 9, Kevin Castille; April 18, Brittney Reese; April 25, Amy Sproston; May 2, Leo Manzano; May 9, Stephanie Brown-Trafton; May 16, Allyson Felix; May 23, Nick Hartle; May 30, Kimberlyn Duncan; June 6, Jessica Cosby and Meghan Vogel; June 13, Jesse Williams; June 20, Shelby Ashe; June 27, Ashton Eaton; July 4, Allyson Felix; July 12, Christian Cantwell; July 18, Gunnar Nixon; July 25 Evan Jager; August 1, Denzel Harper; August 15, Allyson Felix; August 23, Reese Hoffa; August 29, Carmelita Jeter; September 5, Matt Tegenkamp; September 12, Aries Merritt; September 19, Ben True; September 26, Willie Banks; October 3, Jan Holmquist; October 10, Dathan Ritzenhein; October 17, Alana Hadley; October 22, Sarah Baxter; October 31, Laura Hollander; November 7, Cody Moat; November 14, Neely Spence