NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Ryan Hall (Woodside, Calif.) emerged from an assortment of challengers to win his first USA road title today, running 59:29 at the USA 20 km Championships, hosted by New Alliance New Haven 20K in New Haven, Conn. In the women's race, Marla Runyan (Eugene, Ore.) captured her second USA 20 km title, running 1:08:28.
A pack of 15 men opened the 29th annual event with a relaxed 4:51 mile and remained in close quarters through the first four miles.
The leaders passed 10 km in 29:54 as the group thinned down to several contenders including 2004 20 km champion Ryan Shay (East Jordan, Mich.); Team USA Minnesota teammates Jason Lehmkuhle (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Andrew Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.); 2006 25 km champion Fernando Cabada (Bristol, Va.); ZAP Fitness athlete Joe Driscoll (Blowing Rock, N.C.); 2003 10 Mile champion Chris Graff (Arlington, Va.); and new U.S. citizen Simon Sawe (Albuquerque, N.M.).
Over the next four miles Cabada, Carlson, Sawe would test their peers with short surges, cutting the lead group down to six as Graff and Shay began to fade just past eight miles while Hall, Lehmkuhle and Driscoll would match each stride. As they began a short climb to ten miles, Hall made his move to the front and quickly opened a ten meter lead over Sawe who was another ten in front of Cabada, Carlson, Driscoll and Lehmkuhle.
Hall cruised to a ten second lead by 11 miles and went on to a 14 second win as Cabada and Carlson dueled past Sawe to finish second and third, running 59:43 and 59:47 respectively while Sawe would fade to sixth in 1:00:01. Driscoll and Lehmkuhle stepped up to finish fourth and fifth, running 59:54 and 59:55 respectively.
In the women's race, Runyan and fellow Olympian Elva Dryer (Albuquerque, N.M.) ran together early before Dryer began to pull away on a sharp uphill at two miles. Runyan managed to close the gap but Dryer once again surged away to open a 75 meter lead by eight miles and looked to be on her way to the title only to see Runyan rally to catch her at 11 miles and go on to an 11 second win.
Zoila Gomez (Alamosa, Colo.) continued her rise through the U.S. ranks passing Jenny Crain (Milwaukee, Wis.) in the late stages for a third-place finish, running 1:09:04. Crain was timed in 1:09:08. Ann Alyanak (Belbrook, Ohio) rounded out the top-five in 1:10:32.
This marks the 14th year that the New Alliance New Haven 20K has hosted the USA 20 km Championships for men and the sixth for women and was the fifth stop for men and the fourth for women on the 2006 USA Running Circuit (USARC). The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series that 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 20 km Championships visit www.usatf.org.