INDIANAPOLIS - Running the second fastest women's 8 km in U.S. history, Deena Kastor dominated the women's field, while Jorge Torres emerged from his professional road racing debut with his first ever USA championship title at the USA 8 km Championships, hosted by the New York Road Runners at Icahn Track and Field Stadium on Randall's Island in Manhattan.
Though conditions where greatly improved over earlier race week forecasts, the cool breezy conditions were not quite ideal for an attempt at Lynn Jennings' American Record of 25:02, but it was clear that Kastor was going to make every effort to make it hers. Running on her own from just before the first kilometer, Kastor was left to deal with a slight wind as she just missed the record with her 25:05 win.
"My inspiration was to go after the 8 km record, I went after it, but I fell a little short," said Kastor after her first race of the 2005 season. "I felt like I ran a strong race, it was my first race of the year, so I was really just wanting to be aggressive."
Fellow Olympic marathoner, Jen Rhines pulled away from a small chase group that included Amy Rudolph, Carrie Tollefson and Katie McGregor to finish second. "I knew that my strength right now is my strength and I wanted to break away from these ladies with faster finishing speed so I was focused on picking it up as we left the stadium for the second loop," said Rhines of her runner-up finish.
In the men's race, a main pack of nearly ten athletes completed the first 3 km road circuit before Jorge Torres took charge of a smaller group heading back into the stadium. Hometown favorite, Anthony Famiglietti, Abdi Abdirahman and Ryan Shay stayed close to Torres until he made his final push to break the field, just before 5 km.
"The first lap around the track, I felt was too slow and didn't want it to stay that slow, I didn't want a lot of people sticking around, so I became the aggressor and started pushing the pace early so I could drop the field," recalled Torres. "Just before 5 km I opened up a lead of about 30 or 40 meters and just brought it home."
Famiglietti was ultimately overtaken for second by fellow 2004 Olympian, Abdi Abdirahman just before 7 km. With recent USA 15 km champion, Ryan Shay and Max King of Bend, OR rounding out the top five.
The USA 8 km Championship was the first event to take place at the newly renovated Icahn Track and Field Stadium. A total prize purse of $40,000 was paid to U.S. athletes, with both Kastor and Torres earning $5,000 for the championship as well as an addition $500 prime for leading at the 5 km mark.
The USA 8 km Championships are the third stop for the men and the second for the women on the 2005 USA Running Circuit (USARC). A USA Track & Field road series, the USARC features USA Championships from 5 km to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners and is 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 USA 8 km Championships and current standings for the 2005 USARC, visit, www.usatf.org.