One of the greatest Team USA rosters ever assembled for an Ekiden on Sunday posted its best finish ever, taking second behind defending champion in a 14-team field at the 2007 Yokohama International Women's Ekiden in Yokohama, Japan. Russia was timed in 2:14:48 with the U.S. in 2:16:04.
Jen Rhines led off strong for Team USA, running her opening 5 km in 15:05 as Lilia Shobukhova of Russia opened with a leg record 14:45. In the second leg, a 10 km distance, U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor made up 11 seconds of the 20 second deficit by half way, passing 5 km in 15:22 on her way to running 31:09, but Galina Bogomolova regained the time over the second half to win the leg in 31:08.
Stage three saw the Russian team begin to steadily pull away from the U.S. despite strong showings from Carrie Tollefson, who finished her 6 km leg in 19:30, and USA 10km track champ Amy Rudolph, who ran the next 6 km in 19:58.
Another highlight for Team USA came on the 10 km fifth leg where Katie McGregor ran 32:59 to win the leg over 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya.
Beginning the sixth and final leg, Russia had a 59-second advantage over Team USA as Elva Dryer brought the U.S. home with a 17:23 for the final 5.195 km, marking the best finish ever for Team USA at Yokohama. Ayumi Hashimoto, the captain of the host team from Japan, made a dramatic charge on the last leg to finish only three seconds behind the U.S.
For more information on the 2007 Yokohama International Women's Ekiden visit www.usatf.org.