HOUSTON, Texas - Ryan Hall (Woodside, Calif.) dominated the men's field today on his way to setting a U.S. half-marathon record of 59 minutes, 43 seconds at the USA Half-Marathon Championships. Elva Dryer (Gunnison, Colo.) out-dueled fellow Olympian Kate O' Neill (Milton, Mass.) to win the women's title in 1:11:42. The championship was hosted by the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon.
Cool, cloudy but humid conditions met the competitors in the first race of the 2007 USA Running Circuit (USARC) as Hall took charge from the start, leading Olympic Silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.), Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.), and Fasil Bizuneh (Bristol, Va.), through the first mile in 4:38.
From there, Hall had no reservations about going for the 21 year old half-marathon record. By three miles he had opened a 15 second lead over Keflezighi, Browne and Bizuneh. Reaching 10 km in 28:22, Hall had a 57 second advantage over his nearest rivals which would eventually grow to 1:43 by 15 km, as he passed in 42:22 to unofficially tie the U.S. mark for the distance.
Continuing to cruise through splits of 45:33 for 10 miles and 57:06 for 20 km, Hall, the current record holder for the latter distance, was unofficially faster than the U.S. marks for both distances.
Hall's time bettered the old record, held by Mark Curp by one minute, 12 seconds and was also a North American record and currently makes him the 13th fastest performer in the world at the half marathon distance.
Bizuneh managed to out-kick Keflezighi for the runner-up position running 1:02:20 to 1:02:22. Team USA Minnesota teammates Andrew Carlson and Jason Lehmkuhle rounded out the top five in 1:02:44 and 1:02:51 respectively.
The women's race saw Dryer and her 2004 U.S. Olympic teammate, O' Neill move to the front early to establish themselves as the main contenders for the U.S. championship. Dryer was largely in control of the race, maintaining a lead of nearly five seconds through much of the first 10 km.
As the pair approached eight miles, O' Neill made a move to match strides with Dryer and even take a few steps in the lead before Dryer retook her place in the lead and continued on to her first U.S. half-marathon title, winning by four seconds in her debut at the distance.
Michelle Lilienthal (Philadelphia, Pa.) ran a personal best of 1:12:46 to finish third, while Alvina Begay (Gando, Ariz.), and Tara Storage (Beaver Creek, Ohio), rounded out the top five in 1:12:57 and 1:13:14 respectively.
The championships featured a total prize purse of $59,500 with $12,000 going to the respective men's and women's champions. Hall also earned bonuses of $4,000 for breaking the existing race record of 1:02:07, plus an additional $5,000 for breaking the American record of 1:00:55.
Two of the top five U.S. male and female finishers will also be eligible to represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Road Running Championships to be held in Udine, Italy, October 14, 2007.
About the USARC
The 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, including Olympians Deena Kastor, Meb Keflezighi, Marla Runyan and Anthony Famiglietti. The thirteenth edition for the men and twelfth for the women, the 2007 USARC has nine 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 ($6,000, $4,000, and $2,500) 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 2007 USA Half-Marathon Championships visit www.usatf.org.