From the start of the men’s race, a large pack of contenders strode side by side for much of the first two miles of the race. Craig Lutz, Haron Lagat and Tommy Curtin took turns leading the pack, as a conservative early pace kept most of the field intact.
With one mile to go, former USATF 5 km champion Ben True took to the lead, pushing the pace along with Curtin. The duo, flanked by a trio of U.S. Army runners, increased their cadence, breaking up the lead pack.
With half a mile to go, Curtin, Paul Chelimo and Abbabiya Simbassa pulled into the lead. As the finish line came into site, Kipchirchir and Atlanta Track Club Elite’s Kirubel Erassa joined the leaders, as the five men sprinted to the finish.
With less than 100 meters to go, Kipchirchir put in one final push, sprinting past Chelimo and Curtin, crossing the finish line first and earning his second consecutive USATF Running Circuit race title.
Kipchirchir barely edged the other top six contenders, winning in 13:57, while the next five men finished within two seconds. Curtin stayed strong over the final section of the race to grab second in 13:58, while Erassa and Chelimo placed 3-4 with the same time.
Simbassa and True took home fifth and sixth overall in 13:59, while Emmanuel Bor and Will Leer each finished fast in seventh and eighth, both finishing with 14:01 times. Olympian Hassan Mead placed ninth overall in 14:02, while USATF Running Circuit standings leader Leonard Korir placed tenth in 14:04.
For Huddle, her pre-race overtures of taking the race out fast did not disappoint, as the five-time USATF 5 km champion knew a quick early push would quickly thin out the field.
From the gun, Huddle shot to the lead, with only a half-dozen other women risking the early pace and hanging with the American road 5 km record holder. After the first half mile, the lead pack was down to only three women, as Huddle was joined by former NCAA champion Molly Seidel and World Championship medalist Brenda Martinez.
The trio stuck together for the first half of the race, but as Huddle continued her surge, Seidel and Martinez simply could not hang, falling off pace, leaving Huddle alone at the front, pushing herself to another impressive road victory.
Huddle charged to the finish, crossing the finish line in 15:24, 11 seconds ahead of second place Seidel, who hung on gamely over the final mile of the race to earn her second consecutive top two finish in as many weeks.
While Martinez fell backwards to fifth place in 15:47, it was Natosha Rogers and Lauren Paquette who ran tremendous final stages of the race to take home third and fourth in 15:39 and 15:44.
Rounding out the top ten, Stephanie Garcia showed her range on the roads by placing sixth in 15:54, while Olympians Abbey D’Agostino, Desiree Linden and Shalaya Kipp earned 7-8-9 finishes in 16:00, 16:04 and 16:08. Dana Giordano placed tenth overall in 16:09.
The USATF Running Circuit concludes on December 3 in Sacramento, as the USATF Marathon Championships bring together many of the top U.S. distance runners, vying for end of season success. Aliphine Tuliamuk won the women’s championship based on points. This was her second USARC title.
About the USATF Running Circuit
The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF road series featuring USATF championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $60,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 5 km Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 5 km Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.
The mission of the USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush