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Tuliamuk wins again, Chelanga takes title at USATF 7 Mile Championships


DAVENPORT, Iowa – A challenging course led to runaway finishes at the USATF 7 Mile Championships Saturday morning, as USATF Running Circuit standings leader Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sam Chelanga won their respective races in Davenport, Iowa, hosted by the Quad-City Times Bix 7.

From the start of the race, Tuliamuk and key challengers Sara Hall and Olympian Marielle Hall took to the lead and gapped the field easily over the first three miles. The trio ran together, mostly side by side, until the turnaround at 3.5 miles, at which point Tuliamuk started to hammer the pace.

While the three remained close leading up to the fourth mile, it was between mile four and mile five that Tuliamuk grabbed a lead she would never relinquish. During that fourth mile, the former Iowa State runner used the local fan support to push her to a nearly 30 second lead by the start of the fifth mile.

Charging downhill over the final mile, Tuliamuk ran in control and with plenty of power, ultimately crossing the finish line first in 36:30, earning her fourth USATF Running Circuit victory of the season.

Behind Tuliamuk, Marielle Hall and Sara Hall battled for much of the second half of the race, until the final mile when the younger Marielle Hall was able to put a little distance on the other, a gap that would not be made up. Marielle Hall took home a mighty runner-up finish in 37:34, while Sara Hall finished third in 37:53.

While Tuliamuk, Hall and Hall battled it out for the win much of the race, Becky Wade and Chelsea Blaase each established themselves in the top five by the turnaround. Wade would eventually edge Blaase, finishing fourth in 38:07, while Blaase took home fifth in 38:19.

Sixth place Sarah Pease also finished under 39 minutes with her sixth place effort in 38:49, while long-time USATF Running Circuit veteran Renee Metivier earned a seventh place finish in 39:18, holding off late charges from Susan Tanui and Joanna Thompson, who finished in 39:21 and 39:30. Sam Rivard rounded out the top ten with a time of 40:13.

On the men’s side, a strong early pace kept the lead group rolling on the streets of Davenport. While the group maintained a pack of nearly 12 men early on, by mile three the group had whittled itself down to a pack of seven.

Led by Chelanga, Scott Fauble, Jonathan Grey and Reid Buchanan, the group coasted down the 2.5 mile decline to head into the turnaround, thus pushing them back up that route. The pack remained intact until Chelanga made a move with just under two miles to go, stringing out the pack and taking an impressive ten second lead in less than a mile.

Chelanga continued to roll, with Matt McClintock, Fauble and Grey ultimately packing up and using their trio to catch back up. Chelanga coasted down the final mile looking fluid and in control, made one last turn and charged to the finish line, grabbing his first USARC title of the season with a time of 32:53.

Fauble was able to separate himself enough from the rest of the chase back over the final mile to grab an impressive runner-up finish in 33:01, while McClintock and Grey continued their fine seasons to place third and fourth in 33:10 and 33:13.

For Buchanan, a former University of Portland star like Fauble, he was able to hold off key challengers to finish top five with a 33:29 time. U.S. Army teammates Haron Lagat and Emmanuel Bor couldn’t hold on to the leaders over the final two miles of the race, but did fend off the rest of the field in sixth and seventh, with Lagat running 33:35 and Bor finishing in 33:38.

Wade Meddles placed eighth overall in 33:39, while Lagat’s and Bor’s teammate Michael Jordan earned ninth in 33:42, as Kirubel Erassa of the Atlanta Track Club took tenth in 34:15.

In the USATF Running Circuit standings, Tuliamuk strengthened her lead position that much more, picking up 15 points for her win, growing her overall standings total to 90 points, putting her a whopping 36 points ahead of second place Neely Gracey.

Marielle Hall’s runner-up finish moves her up 17 spots in the standings into a tie with Emily Infeld and Sarah Pagano for seventh place with 18 points.

For Chelanga, his victory puts him within ten points of men’s standings leader Leonard Korir, 75-65, with four races left to go on the USATF Running Circuit calendar. With his fourth place effort, Grey jumped from tenth in the overall standings to fifth, owning a total of 23 points.

The USATF 7 Mile Championships are the seventh stop on the USATF Running Circuit. The USATF Running Circuit resumes on September 4 in New Haven, Connecticut at the USATF 20 km Championships.

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 $50,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 7 Mile Championships.

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 7 Mile Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, 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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