Flanagan blazes to course record, Vega takes men's title at USA Half Marathon Championships


Jim Estes
Associate Director of LDR and Marketing
USA Track & Field

HOUSTON - Olympic Bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan (Pittsboro, N.C.) smashed the course record at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon to win the women's USA Half Marathon Championship. Running 1:09:41, Flanagan broke the previous record by one minute, 14 seconds. Antonio Vega (Minneapolis, Minn.) won the men's race in 1:01:54 to win the first U.S. title of his career.

Running her debut for the distance, Flanagan lived up to her status as pre-race favorite, taking control of the race from the first mile with defending champion Magdalena Lewy Boulet (Oakland, Calif.), Serena Burla (Ellisville, Mo.), Renee Metivier Baillie (Boulder, Colo.) and Kelly Jaske (Portland, Ore.) trying to keep pace.

Just before four miles, Boulet began to drop off the pack and Jaske and Baillie began to fade just after four. Running a pair of 5:16 miles for the sixth and seventh miles, Flanagan and Burla continued to pull away from the field. As Flanagan churned out a third 5:16 for mile eight, Burla missed a water bottle and faltered briefly, allowing Flanagan to gain a 15 meter advantage.

Over the final miles, Flanagan extended her lead to win the championship by 28 seconds. Amy Hastings (Flagstaff, Ariz.) overtook Baillie to take third place in 1:11:19. Baillie was fourth in 1:11:51 and Boulet took fifth in 1:12:22.

In the men's race, a pack of about twenty men passed the first mile in a leisurely 4:53 before Vega and his Team USA Minnesota teammates, Matt Gabrielson (Apple Valley, Minn.), Josh Moen (Saint Louis Park, Minn.) and Patrick Smyth (Minneapolis, Minn.) pushed the pace to 4:38 for the second mile.

As Vega, Smyth and Moen continued to control the pace, Tim Nelson (Portland, Ore.), Stephan Shay (Flagstaff, Ariz.) and Brent Vaughn (Black Hawk, Colo.) began to open a gap on the field.

By eight miles, Vega and Smyth were running side by side with Vaughn trailing by about five meters. Shortly after the eighth mile, Vega made his break and by ten miles, had a 20 meter lead as Vaughn rejoined Smyth and looked to close the gap slightly but Vega held on to win the title by seven seconds.

Smyth won the duel for second, running 1:02:01 to Vaughn's 1:02:04. Nelson rallied to take fourth in 1:02:11 as Shay rounded out the top-five in 1:02:26.

About the USARC

The Aramco Houston Half Marathon is the first stop on the 2010 USA Running Circuit (USARC), and featured a total championship prize purse of $59,500 plus potential bonuses. Flanagan and Vega each earned $12,000 for their championship victories.

The 2010 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, including Olympians Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan and Anthony Famiglietti. The 2010 USARC has ten events each for men and women.

The 2010 USARC will once again see a record amount of circuit prize money for a non-Olympic year with total prize purse of $623,850 offered by host events. U.S. athletes will also have the opportunity to qualify for various Team USA events, including the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and the Chiba International Ekiden.

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 on the 2010 USA Half-Marathon Championships visit www.usatf.org.