INDIANAPOLIS - The USA 15 km Championships, hosted by the Gate River Run, once again featured a stellar field including seven former Olympians. With nearly ideal conditions, the record field of nearly 8,000 runners saw Jen Rhines capture her second USA 15 km Championship, while Ryan Shay won his first.
The men's race developed casually as over 20 men hit the mile in 4:46. With miles ranging from 4:40 to 4:53 through 5 miles, there was no shortage of men willing to take their turn at the lead. It wasn't until the lead men began to catch the bulk of the elite women's field near seven miles that the men's field began to narrow to the trio of James Carney, Alan Culpepper and Ryan Shay.
As they reached the top of the Hart Bridge, Carney looking to be running the easiest, having visions of an upset victory. While Culpepper knew that Shay was getting restless, by the time they had reached the bottom of the bridge, a near fall, due to tripping on a bridge joint, had caused Carney to lose more than 20 meters and eventually slip to fourth while Shay had opened a 10 meter gap on Culpepper. The lead continued to grow as he made his way to the finish in 43:52 and the 2005 USA 15 km Championship.
"I'm really happy" said Shay of his fifth ever USA title. "I felt pretty good the last 1.3 miles, going down-hill. I've been practicing the down-hills for Boston, April 18th. I was really nervous when I took the lead because I know Alan just has that awesome kick, I just kept thinking 'keep it going'."
Meanwhile as Shay, Carney and Culpepper made their way to the crest of Hart Bridge, Rhines had broken clear of Blake Russell and 2002 runner-up Elva Dryer to clinch her second USA 15 km title in a time of 49:21. Dryer managed to out duel Russell finishing four seconds up for second place in 49:42.
Early on, the women's race was primarily a four woman race with defending champion Colleen De Reuck, Rhines, Russell and Dryer working together. "We had a pack of four through 10 km, which I expected." recalled Rhines. "I knew these ladies were in shape and it was kind of windy, so I think that stopped anyone from just going after it at the gun, we weren't running a real fast pace, but I think it made for a more exciting, tactical race."
This year's running also featured the second edition of the Equalizer Bonus, with Shay earning an additional $5,000 for being the first athlete, male or female to cross the finish line. The top-seeded women began 5 minutes before the men, the "head start" is based on the time differential of the U.S. 15K records - 42:22, Todd Williams (1995) and 47:15, Deena Drossin (2003) - both set on the Gate River Run course.
USA Running Circuit
The USA 15 km Championships is the second stop for the men on the 2005 USA Running Circuit (USARC) and the first for the women. The USA Running Circuit attracts the best U.S. distance runners, including Olympians Elva Dryer, Anthony Famiglietti, Colleen DeReuck and Alan Culpepper. The eleventh edition for the men and tenth for the women, the 2005 circuit has nine events for men and eight events for women.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6000, $4000, and $2500) for the top three men and women point scorers overall. The USARC points at the USA Marathon Championships will be doubled.
The mission of the USA Running Circuit is to showcase, support, and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $4 million dollars to U.S. distance runners.For more information on the 2005 USA 15 km Championships and the 2005 USARC, visit www.usatf.org.