EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Courtesy of two individual wins and three overall team victories, Team USA was victorious once again in Holyrood Park at the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge on Saturday, January 7. The U.S. took the top of the podium for the second time in three years with 149 points, beating out Team Europe (152 points) and Team Great Britain (208 points) for the title.
All the action from the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge can be seen on demand on USATF.TV +PLUS, including full race replays, highlights, interviews and more.
The U.S. saved the best and most exciting finish for last, with the showdown between GEXC foes Garrett Heath (Seattle, Washington) and Mo Farah looming over much of the day. In Saturday’s final race, that matchup took a backseat after the first lap of the 8 km course, thanks to a torrid pace set by Team GB’s Callum Hawkins and matched by Team USA’s Heath and Leonard Korir (Colorado Springs, Colorado). The duo of Hawkins and Korir dropped Heath about midway through the third lap of the course, and Korir sat on Hawkins’s shoulder for much of the race.
With 1,000 km remaining, Korir attempted to make a move and pass Hawkins, but the Brit Olympian surged and maintained his position until the closing seconds of the race, as Korir was able to charge past him in the final 20 meters to seal the victory for Team USA in 24:03. The scorers for the senior men comprised three of the top five and five of the top 10, as Sam Chelanga (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Stanley Kebenei (Colorado Springs, Colorado) finished fourth and fifth in 24:23 and 24:29, respectively. Defending champion Heath was sixth overall in 24:43, while 2016 Rio Olympian Hillary Bor (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Thomas Curtin (Quincy, Massachusetts) closed out the scoring for Team USA with their 10th and 11th-place finishes in 25:11 and 25:12. The U.S. dominated the team standings with just 37 points.
Team USA bookended the day with individual and team victories, as Noah Affolder (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) got the win for the U.S. in the junior men’s 6 km, finishing in 19:29 and leading the American junior men to four top-10 finishes and 17 points. Affolder and compatriot Conor Lundy (Yonkers, New York) led the charge for much of the course, with Team Europe’s Miguel Gonzalez matching their pace. Over the final lap, it was Affolder who put 10-15 km between himself and the chase pack in the closing meters, edging Gonzalez and Lundy. Lundy turned in a podium finish with a third-place time of 19:36, while teammates Seth Hirsch (Omaha, Nebraska) and Kenny Vasbinder (East Aurora, New York) also scored for the U.S. with their fourth and ninth-place finishes of 19:38 and 19:48, respectively.
The U.S. junior women also found themselves atop the team standings after the junior women’s 4 km race in Holyrood Park, scoring 23 points. Nevada Mareno (Raleigh, North Carolina) was the top-finishing American junior woman, turning in a podium finish with a time of 14:08. All four scorers for the U.S. finished in the top eight, including Alicia Monson (5 - 14:16), Lauren Gregory (7 - 14:25) & Taylor Werner (8 - 14:30).
The top American on the senior women’s squad was former Villanova standout and current Team B.A.A. member Emily Lipari (Brighton, Massachusetts), who was fourth overall in 21:17. The U.S. women put three women in the top 10 and all six scorers in the top 20, scoring 72 points on the day to tie for second. Team Europe had just 28 points to win the senior women’s team crown.
The international 4x1 km relay kicked off the webcast action on USATF.TV +PLUS, with Team USA newcomer Lianne Farber (Sacramento, California) running an impressive second leg to lead the U.S. to a second-place finish. Men’s DMR world record holder Kyle Merber (Dix Hills, New York) ran the leadoff leg for the U.S., handing off the baton to Farber in a near-tie for the lead with Team GB and Scotland A. Farber’s strategy paid off, as she was able to make up ground on the final straightaway of her lap to pass 4x1500m American record holder Will Leer (Wayzata, Minnesota) the baton with the lead. It was a dead heat between Scotland A, Team GB and Team USA in the final exchange between Leer and Team USA Minnesota’s Heather Kampf (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and Kampf was able to make up ground on Scotland A over the final 200m to edge the Scots and finish second overall in 11:17.
Full results from the 2017 Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge can be found here. Fans can follow along with #USATF on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.