INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - James Carney (Eugene, Ore.) took charge early on his way to his second USA title of 2008, winning the USA 20 km Championships in 59:11. In the women's race, Jill Steffens (Athens, Ga.) overtook Elva Dryer (Gunnison Colo.) just after the 12 mile mark to win the women's title in 1:08:48. The championships were hosted by the 31st annual Stratton Faxon New Haven 20K Monday in New Haven, Conn.
The men's race saw Carney take the lead from the gun, with only Josh Rohatinsky (Beaverton, Ore.) and Dan Browne (Beaverton, Ore.) briefly able to make contact near five miles. From that point, Carney surged ahead to open a five-second lead at six miles. By ten miles, he continued to extend his lead, passing in 47:26, and from there he easily cruised to the title, finishing 47 seconds ahead of Rohatinsky. Browne held on for third, running 1:00:08. Fernando Cabada (Boulder, Colo.) and Celedonio Rodriguez (Flagstaff, Ariz.) rounded out the top-five, finishing in 1:00:39 and 1:00:42 respectively.
In the women's race, Dryer led much of the way, occasionally opening a small gap on a chase pack that included eventual champion Steffens and third-place finisher Ilsa Paulson (Flagstaff, Ariz.). Near the seven mile mark, new masters standout Stephanie Herbst-Lucke (Atlanta, Ga.) briefly challenged for the lead, before Dryer surged to a four second lead.
Approaching eight miles, Steffens and Paulson began to work together to close the gap on Dryer and just past 12 miles, Steffens kicked by Dryer to hit the finish at the New Haven Green with a six-second win, while Paulson, the 19-year-old former Northern Arizona University star, narrowly missed overtaking Dryer for third, running 1:08:55. Herbst-Lucke held on for fourth in 1:09:24 and Dot McMahan (Rochester Hills, Mich.) took fifth in 1:09:33.
With a total prize purse of $41,550 on the line, Carney and Steffens earned $8,000 each and were also the top athletes to qualify for the Team USA squad that will compete at the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 12.
This marks the 16th year that the Stratton Faxon New Haven 20K has hosted the USA 20 km Championships for men and the seventh for women. It was the sixth stop for men and the fifth for women on the 2008 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 thirteenth edition for the men and twelfth for the women, the 2008 circuit has nine events for men and seven events for women. Carney now leads the men's circuit with points and Deena Kastor leads the women with 45.
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 2008 USARC and USA 20 km Championships visit www.usatf.org.