From Will Lindgren
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Annie Bersagel (Lakeville, Minn.), made her half marathon debut on Saturday capturing the 2006 USA Women's Half Marathon Championship at the Hospital Hill Run in Kansas City, Mo. Bersagel's time of 1:14:36 was good for a nine second win over Jenny Crain (Milwaukee, Wis.).
A lead pack including Bersagel, Crain, Zoila Gomez (Alamosa, Colo.), and recent 25 km champ Turena Johnson-Lane (Muncie, Ind.), ran together until Johnson-Lane made the first significant surge on the first of seven hills. After cresting the hill Bersagel and Crain began to reel her in as they pulled away from the chase pack. Bersagel then drew away from Crain and opened a gap which she would maintain to the finish. Gomez followed Bersagel and Crain in third, running 1:15:30 to round out the top three.
"I just focused on keeping a smooth pace," said Bersagel, a Team USA Minnesota athlete. "I was just trying to focus on my rhythm and momentum and staying strong on the hills."
The 2006 Hospital Hill Run was the third stop for women on the 2006 USA Running Circuit (USARC), a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from 5 km to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners. The twelfth edition for the men and eleventh for the women, the 2006 circuit has eight events for men and seven 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 2006 USARC and USA Women's Half Marathon Championships visit www.usatf.org.