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Dennis USA Men's 5K Champion at CVS/pharmacy Downtown


Ryan Lamppa
Media Correspondent
USA Track & Field
(805) 696-6232

Kiplitan, Davenport Win CVS/pharmacy Downtown, Shay Secures USA Running Circuit Grand Prix Title

By Mike Scott, Running USA wire

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - (September 7, 2003) - Cincinnati's Henry Dennis' tactic of "staying with Kenyans" for as long as possible paid off as he was crowned the national 5K champion at the USA Men's Championship hosted by the CVS/pharmacy Downtown road race in Providence on Sunday morning. Kenya's Thomas Kiplitan and Ireland's Marie Davenport won the overall races in fast times over the mostly-flat, but winding course in and around "Downcity" - as the Rhode Island capital city's civic center area is known.

Kiplitan, defending champion James Koskei and 2002 runner-up Shadrack Kosgei helped lead a tightly-bunched field through a swift 4:20 opening mile that included a 300 meter long downhill and six turns 90-degrees or greater as the runners toured Downcity.

The pace remained fast but steady through an essential out-and-back second mile along Water and Main Streets, with the same trio leading a strung out pack of ten through two miles in 8:42. Hanging on the back of the lead pack, Dennis (8:45 for two miles) realized that he was the top American.

"My whole goal going into the race," said Dennis, the 2002 Ohio Runner of the Year, "was to see how long I could stay with the Kenyans. At two miles I looked up and realized that I was the top American. I just hoped that I could hang on for the last mile."

At the two mile, Kiplitan surged and only last year's top two finishers - Koskei and Kosgei - could maintain contact. As the runners made the second-to-last turn on the course with about 800 meters to go, Kiplitan apparently cut across the sidewalk for a couple strides before returning to the street. (Kiplitan's temporary excursion on the sidewalk was protested by the agent of one of the other competitors, but the protest was rejected by Referee Ron Boemker on the grounds that it was unclear whether the athlete had strayed from the course and that no material advantage was gained. The Jury of Appeals upheld the referee's decision upon appeal).

The 20-year-old Kiplitan began to edge away from his pursuers over a 400 meter gradual uphill along Memorial Blvd, opening up about 15 meters of daylight at the final turn onto Francis Street's steep uphill finish. Kiplitan passed three miles in 13:01 and although Koskei closed on him in the final meters he was able to hold on to win in a fast 13:29 - the fastest winning time at this race since Khalid Khannouchi ran 13:27 in 1998.

Koskei finished a couple strides back in 13:31, while Kosgei held on for third in 13:37.

Dennis, 28, was hanging on too, but a little farther back. Dennis, a former Big 10 runner-up at 10,000m for the University of Wisconsin, crested the Francis Street hill in ninth overall and held on to win the U.S. title by six-tenths of a second over a fast closing Ahman Dirks. Dennis was credited with a 14:05 and earned $5000.

"It was perfect conditions out there," said the first-time national champion, who finished 11th overall at last year's championship here in Providence. "I'm a road runner, not a track racer. This is my biggest win ever."

Dennis, who earlier this year finished 9th at USA 10 Mile Championship and 16th at the USA 15K Championship, is looking forward to the USA 10K Championship in Mobile.

"I finished 15th at the 10K last year," said Dennis. "I'm going to go home and train for the 10K now."

Dennis, who represents the Wisconsin Runner Racing Team, lives and trains in Cincinnati, OH. He reports that although he does some long runs with some local marathoners, he does all of his hard workouts alone.

Portland native Dirks, an All-American at 1500m while at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, claimed the USA Championship silver medal in 14:06 - a step ahead of Ryan Shay, 2003 U.S. half-marathon and marathon champion, who received the same time.

As the penultimate event on the Men's USA Running Circuit (USARC) - a USA Track & Field road series featuring national championships, Shay secured the 2003 USARC Grand Prix title (68 points) as 3rd American (worth 10 Circuit points) at the Downtown 5K. The Notre Dame grad earned $6000 for the GP crown. Team USA California teammate Meb Keflezighi - who did not run in Providence and is currently second in the standings with 45 points - is guaranteed at least third in the USARC GP. The men's Circuit finale is the Food World Senior Bowl Charity Run 10K in Mobile, Ala. on Nov. 8.

The 2003 USARC offers over $340,000 in championship prize money plus a $25,000 grand prix purse for the top three GP scorers ($6000, $4000 and $2500). At each event, the first ten U.S. runners earn Circuit points (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1). USARC points were doubled at the USA Marathon Championships. For more information on the USARC including complete standings, schedule, past champions and more, go to:

In the women's race, no one was more surprised by "surprise" winner Marie Davenport's triumph than the champ herself.

"I thought I was in second," said the former Providence College star now residing in Chesterfield, CT with her husband.

"I had gone out controlled and never saw another woman," said Davenport, 28. "At the mile (passed in 4:46), I knew I was running fast. But I didn't know I was in the lead until just before the finish when the announcer said it over the speakers. I've always wanted to win this race - I used to volunteer here back when I was running for Providence College."

Davenport, who easily exceeded her pre-race goal of "finishing in the top five," tied her best track 5000 meter performance with a 15:24 effort over Providence's streets.

Kenya's Leah Malot finished second in 15:28, while Lyudmila Biktasheva of Russia claimed third in 15:33.

Masters star Eddy Hellebuyck (Albuquerque, NM) lowered the four-year-old U.S. Masters 5K record. The 42-year-old Hellebuyck finished 14th overall (6th U.S.) in a swift 14:13, which broke John Tuttle's 14:19 from the 1999 Run by the River 5K in Clarksville, TN.

Hellebuyck finished second in the Masters Division behind Kenya's Jackson Kipngok, who finished eighth overall in 14:03.

Over 6000 runners and walkers participated in the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K, which starts and finishes in the shadow of Rhode Island's picturesque State Capitol Building. The 5K was only one of many races on the schedule, which was preceded by several Youth races and followed by the High School 3K Inspiration Run.

CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K: USA Men's Championship

Providence, RI, Sunday, September 7, 2003


 1) Thomas Kiplitan, Kenya, 13:29, $5000
 2) James Koskei, Kenya, 13:31, $2500
 3) Shadrack Kosgei, Kenya, 13:37, $2000
 4) Mohammed Amyne, Morocco, 13:46, $1500
 5) Yevgen Bozhko, Russia, 13:48, $1000
 6) El Arbi Khattabi, Morocco, 13:52
 7) Paul Mwangi, Kenya, 13:52
 8) Jackson Kipngok, 42, Kenya, 14:03, $750 Masters
 9) Henry Dennis, OH, 14:05, $5000US
10) Ahman Dirks, OR, 14:06, $3000US

Additional U.S. Top 10:
11) Ryan Shay, MI, 14:06, $2000US
12) Peter Julian, CO, 14:10, $1500US
13) Chris Graff, CA, 14:12, $1000US
14) Eddy Hellebuyck, 42, NM, 14:13, $900US [+$500 Masters]
15) Kevin Doyle, MI, 14:14, $700US
16) Christian Hesch, CA, 14:20, $500US
17) Jonathon Riley, CA, 14:22, $300US
18) Teddy Mitchell, NM, 14:23, $100US
US = prize money for USA 5K Championship


 1) Marie Davenport, IRL/CT, 15:24, $5000
 2) Leah Malot, Kenya, 15:28, $2500
 3) Lyudmila Biktasheva, Russia, 15:33, $2000
 4) Kathy Butler, Great Britain, 15:55, $1500
 5) Maya Nishio, Japan, 15:58, $1000
 6) Victoria Klimina, Russia, 16:02
 7) Atalelech Ketema, Ethiopia, 16:10
 8) Elana Meyer, South Africa, 16:18
 9) Kate O'Neill, CT, 16:24
10) Naomi Wangui, Kenya, 16:25

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