GRAND RAPIDS - Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.) successfully defended his men's national title running 1:15:07 while Paige Higgins (Littleton, Colo.) won her first USA road title in 1:30:49, Saturday at the USA 25 km Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Sunny skies and ideal conditions of 42 degrees and calm winds met athletes for the 15th running of the championships with the Fifth Third River Bank Run as Sell and 2006 champion and 25 km American Record holder Fernando Cabada (Boulder, Colo.) led a lead pack of 11 men including open division contenders Wellay Weldegiyorgis (ETH) and Rueben Chebii (KEN) through the first mile in 4:58.
By three miles the field of contenders had narrowed to Sell, Cabada, Weldegiyorgis and Chebii, with each taking brief turns in the lead. At four miles Weldegiyorgis and Chebii surged to a small lead over Sell and Cabada but it was Weldegiyorgis who would extend the lead to nine seconds at five miles.
As Sell and Cabada continued to work together to pass Chebii before six miles, Weldegiyorgis' lead had extended to 15 seconds but by eight miles Sell began to pull away from Cabada in an effort to close the gap. Approaching 9 miles, Cabada had fallen 15 seconds behind as Sell joined Weldegiyorgis in the lead.
Over the next two miles, Sell was clearly in control as Weldegiyorgis repeatedly looked back, apparently concerned about losing his hold on second. As the pair passed the 11th mile in 4:41 followed by a 4:51 uphill mile, Sell broke away from Weldegiyorgis and quickly opened a lead of more than 30 seconds by the time he passed the half marathon in 1:03:29.
Sell's victory was his third USA 25 km title and earned for him a total of $8,000 in open and championship prize money. Weldegiyorgis finished second overall in 1:16:06. Rounding out the top five U.S. men, Cabada held on for second in the championship division 1:17:01 while Sell's Hansons-Brooks teammates Todd Snyder and Mike Morgan (Rochester Hills, Mich.) took third and fourth in 1:17:14 and 1:17:21 respectively. Tommy Greenless (Walnut Creek, Calif.) took fifth in 1:18:25.
In the women's race, Higgins finished third overall behind Caroline Cheprkorir of Kenyan and Firehiwot Tesraye of Ethiopia to claim the U.S. title. Cheprkorir was timed in 1:29:31 for the overall win, with Tesraye taking second in 1:30:11. Kristin Price (Raleigh N.C.) took fourth overall and second in the championship division in 1:32:04 while Annie Gasway (Gurnee, Ill.) finished third in the championships in 1:35:08 and Linsey Smith (Madison, Wis.) finished fourth in 1:35:37. Kalin Ritzenhein (Eugene, Ore.), rounded out the top-five U.S. athletes in 1:35:31.)
This year's event also hosted the USA Masters 25 km Championships with Carl Rundell (Birmingham, Mich.) taking the overall masters title in 1:21:28 and Kathy Wolski (Knoxville, Tenn.), winning the women's title in 1:39:27. Rundell and Wolski each earned $1,500 for the masters titles.
USA Running Circuit
The USA 25 km Championship was the fifth stop on the 2008 USA Running Circuit (USARC) for men and the fourth for women. The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from 5 km to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners. The fourteenth edition for the men and thirteenth for the women, the 2008 USARC has seven events for men and nine 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 2008 USA 25 km Championships visit www.usatf.org. #