Kennedy wins USA Men's 10 km title
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USA Track & Field
Shay USA Running Circuit Grand Prix Champion
By Hank Brown, Running USA wire
MOBILE, Ala. - (November 8, 2003) - It's a rare occasion when Bob Kennedy strays from the track onto the roads. On Saturday morning in Mobile, the U.S. 3000 and 5000 meter record holder took his talents to a track-like road course to win the USA Men's 10 km title at the 16th Food World Senior Bowl Charity Run. The Indianapolis resident broke away from a huge pack of elite American men at about 4.5 miles and ran unchallenged to the tape in 28:35. Teren Jameson of Salt Lake City won the frenetic kick for national runner-up in 28:42 with Matt Gabrielson of St. Paul, Minn. two seconds back in third. The finishing field was so fast and so deep that it took a 29:00 performance to crack the top 10, and a sub 30:00 to slip into the top 30.
But Kennedy, 33, was no doubt the fastest and the strongest. The Mobile course is flatter than an airport runway, which suited Kennedy's track heritage.
"Yeah, it's a great course, very flat," the two-time Olympian said afterwards. "But this (running on the roads) is different. Most track races are at night. And us track guys like the constant feedback every 200-400 meters. I just told myself to stay ready at all times. I liked it. I had a good time."
The starting line was packed with talent. Kennedy, Nick Rogers and Brad Hauser have worn the red, white and blue in past Olympics. Ryan Kirkpatrick 2002, Rogers 2001 (event record holder in 28:18) and Scott Strand 2000 were on hand to defend their past national 10 km titles. 2003 USA Running Circuit champion and marathon and half-marathon U.S. champion Ryan Shay also was hunting another U.S. title.
This event oozes with southern charm as Azalea Trail Ladies dressed in long flowing dresses welcomed runners to the starting line. Huge live oak trees provided a majestic canopy for the runners as they gathered in the historic Oakleigh District of old Mobile. Stately southern mansions, some over 300 years old, provide the backdrop as thousands of runners swept past.
The leaders took flight down the 2-mile opening straightaway. A fast first mile of 4:31 did nothing to sort out or slim down the hefty pack of about 30 runners. Mile 2 was more of the same, passed in 4:39, still about 25 runners, still doing business at arms length. The next mile passed through a residential area with a few traffic circles temporarily scattering the runners, but they quickly reformed into a tight knit group once around the circle. Mile 3 split was 4:40.
Jameson pushed the turn onto Dauphin Street which served to thin the herd slightly. Kennedy and Rogers quickly covered Jameson's move. Rogers was now dictating the pace with Kennedy tucked neatly in the middle of the action. Daniel Lincoln, Richie Brinker, Jason Balkman, Pat Gildea and Karl Savage were all there as a twin pack of another 8-10 runners formed just a few strides behind. The 4-mile split was 4:38, 18:30. Nothing had been settled yet.
It was shaping up to be a kicker's race, nothing unusual for Mobile. The guys with "wheels" were getting in position for the fast and furious finish. All bets were on Kennedy, Rogers, Lincoln or Savage. Even though Kennedy looked relaxed the four-time U.S. 5000 meter champion admitted later he was a little worried.
"I really thought this would get down to a kick finish," said Kennedy. "I had not been doing any speed work so I was a little concerned what might happen if it got to that."
No worries. Kennedy threw down a surge at about the 4.5 mile mark and only Savage was brave enough to cover. Within about 50 meters, Savage thought better of his heroics and abruptly dropped back to the chase pack. Kennedy quickly built his lead to 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 12 seconds. Just like that, the race was over. Everyone else was running for second.
"I picked it up and nobody came," explained Kennedy who pocketed $7500 for his first USA road title. "I thought I might as well go for home at that point. I was just trying to relax. It worked out well."
The women's race was not a USA Championship but featured a strong field nonetheless. It was déjà vu again as Elva Dryer of Albuquerque took her 4th win in succession, missing the Francie Larrieu Smith's 32:01 event record by only two seconds. Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished second in 32:36, while Carrie Tollefson was third in a PR 32:58.
"I don't think I've ever run a race so many times," said Dryer, a Team USA California athlete. "I really like this course. I guess I like flat because I'm a rhythm runner. I went out a little too quick. It's hard not to get caught up in the fast men's pace. But I just tried to stay relaxed. Gosh, if I had known I was that close to the course record, maybe I could have given it a shot at the end. Who knows? I was just happy to win."
Kennedy also had good feelings about his performance. "I've been healthy for awhile now and that makes a big difference for me. It's always a nice feeling to win and especially great to win a national championship. This was a great field. This gets me even more excited about next year."
The Charity Run was also the ninth and final stop on the 2003 Men's USA Running Circuit - a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA Championships from 5K to the marathon and the final USARC Grand Prix standings were determined after the race. Before the race, with 68 points, Ryan Shay had already secured the overall USARC Grand Prix title worth $6000, and after the race, Team USA California teammate Meb Keflezighi and Phillimon Hanneck kept their #2 (45 points) and #3 (34 points) positions to take home $4000 and $2500 respectively. Colleen De Reuck was the Women's USARC GP Champion for the second straight year.
Overall, the 2003 Men's USARC paid out over $200,000 in prize money and 54 U.S men scored USARC points.
The 2003 USARC distributed over $400,000 in 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 earned 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: http://www.usatf.org/events/2003/USARunningCircuit/
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