GRAND RAPIDS -2004 Olympian Dan Browne (Beaverton, Ore.) won his third U.S. 25 km title as Sally Meyerhoff (Tempe, Ariz.) won her first at the USA 25 km Championships Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich. This marks the 16th year that the championships have been hosted by the Fifth Third River Bank Run.
In a field that also included open international athletes, Browne and Meyerhoff each finished second overall in the respective men's and women's divisions. Browne was timed in 1:15:56 and Meyerhoff ran 1:27:28. The overall titles were won by Kenya's Isaak Kimaiyo in 1:15:36 and Genoveva Kigen in 1:27:16.
Due to local flooding, race officials were forced to use an alternate course that had significantly more hills than the traditional course, which had most of the top athletes talking about a more conservative approach to the early miles. This combined with a steady rain at the start to lead to a relaxed opening mile of 5:03.
As a lead pack of nearly 20 men approached five miles, the pace dropped to 4:42, as Browne was tucked in a pack that included Kimaiyo, and his countrymen, Linus Maiyo and Emmanuel Korir along with U.S. several contenders including Ryan Sheehan (Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jason Hartmann (Boulder, Colo.), Fasil Bizuneh (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Josh Eberly (Gunnison, Colo.) and Antonio Vega (Saint Paul, Minn.).
Just after 11 miles, Kimaiyo along with Maiyo and Korir increased the tempo, running a 4:34 12th- mile to open a gap on the Browne and Sheehan. By 13, he had a ten second lead over Maiyo and Korir as Browne had pulled away from Sheehan and was closing the gap on them.
As Kimaiyo steadily increased his lead, Browne caught Maiyo and Korir. In the final 400 meters, Maiyo surged but Browne had one more gear as he kicked to the line to finish four seconds up. In the final mile, Hartmann was able to overtake Korir for fourth overall and take second in the U.S. championships, running 1:16:14 to Korir's 1:16:16. Bizuneh took the third U.S. spot, finishing sixth overall in 1:16:21.
The women's race saw Kigen jump to an early lead as Meyerhoff ran with 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner and pre-race favorite Magdalena Lewy Boulet (Oakland, Calif.).
Just past 11 miles Meyerhoff made her move and pulled away from Boulet, who had been dealing with a side-stitch. As Meyerhoff pressed the pace, she closed on Kigen slightly but was only able to close the gap to 12 seconds at the finish. Boulet held on for third overall and second in the championships, running 1:28:14. Tera Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took fourth overall to round out the top-three U.S. finishers in 1:28:41.
This year's event once again served as the USA Masters 25 km Championships with Paul Aufdemberge (Redford, Mich.) winning his second masters title of 2009 in 1:21:08. Susan Empey (Mercer Island, Wash.) won the women's title in 1:35:55.
The USA 25 km Championships featured more than $45,000 in prize money with the men's and women's champions earning $4,000 each, and the men's and women's masters champions earning $1,500 each.
About the USARC
The USA 25 km Championship was the fourth stop on the 2009 USA Running Circuit (USARC). The 2009 USARC is a USA Track & Field road series, featuring USA Championships from one mile to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners. The 2009 USARC has ten events each for men and women. Fasil Bizuneh leads the men's standings with 25 points while Magdalena Lewy Boulet leads the women with 27 points.
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 $6 million dollars to U.S. distance runners.
For more information and video highlights from the 2009 USA 25 km Championships visit www.usatf.org.