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Team USA wins North American 5K Team Championship


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

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - (Oct. 26, 2003) - Though the Mexican men went 1-2, and Canada's national 5K record holder Emilie Mondor dominated the women's competition with a course record, Team USA won Sunday's North American 5K Team Championship with more consistent performances in both divisions than either of their two border rivals in the low-score, cross country team format. The championship race was the highlight of the 15th annual Arturo Barrios 5K & 10K that took place along the scenic Chula Vista Marina.

Mexico's Alejandro Suarez was the first man across the line, covering the flat, fast 3.1-mile course in a time of 14:01. Teammate Pablo Olmedo was right behind him at 14:03 and the first American to cross, Ahman Dirks, took third in 14:05. Mondor, a student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, shattered the women's course record in her 15:23.

Recent USA 10K road champion Elva Dryer (15:43) and California's Sylvia Mosqueda (15:54) finished 2-3 to lead the U.S. women's scoring while Dirks paced the men, with Boulder, Colorado's Peter Julian (14:09) taking fifth. The Americans scored 13 points to beat the Canadians by two points and the defending champion Mexicans by four. The top two of each gender scored for each squad.

"Not everyone has this uniform," said 2000 Olympian Dryer of Albuquerque after her second place effort. "To wear this uniform, it's not easy. It's competitive out there."

"It changes your perspective to put on the red, white, and blue colors," confirmed Dirks of Portland, Ore. "I never thought it would mean as much as it did. It's just much bigger than running for yourself."

The men's race remained tight throughout the first two miles, split in 4:35 and 9:04, with all nine competitors marking one another's moves. But a series of fast-moving brush fires cast a pall of smoke over much of the greater San Diego area while a thin layer of ash fell throughout the morning. The fires and warm conditions contributed to the lack of strong surging.

The 23-year-old Suarez out-kicked teammate Olmedo, Dirks and Canada's Bruno Mazzotta to capture the individual title. Suarez was married Thursday in a civil ceremony, but will celebrate his church wedding in December.

"The prize money will help with the wedding," said Suarez with a large smile, probably for the party.

On the women's side, Mondor took off from the gun and never looked back, winning by 20 seconds. It was at last year's North American Challenge that the 22-year-old Mondor began her ascent in the professional ranks with a second place finish. Her 15:23 winning time bested the course record of 15:30 set last year by Mexico's Dulce Rodriquez, and came with four seconds of her own Canadian national road record set at this year's Carlsbad 5000.

"I've only had three weeks of training after finishing 12th at the World Championships," said the British Columbia-based runner. "I just ran as hard as I could. It was after this race last year that I got an agent. I love Elite Racing events, because this is where I was discovered."

A prize purse of $25,000 was awarded to the teams, with the Americans receiving $12,000, the Canadians $6000 and the Mexicans $3000. The individual champions received an additional $1300. In the people's races, Eric Martin won the men's 10K in 34:12 and Mary Coordt the women's in 37:36. The men's 5K title went to Christian Hesch who finished in 15:08 and the women's title went to Elizabeth Frame at 17:26. Just over 4,000 people registered for the Arturo Barrios 5K & 10K, marking the 15th anniversary of the event. During that span over $200,000 has been raised by the event for the Chula Vista Library.

The New Balance Elite Racing show, airing on FOX SPORTS NET, will feature the race on November 5 at 3:00pm and on November 11 at 11:00am. For more race information, go to:

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