Daska Dominates Field at Freihofer's Run for Women 5k in Albany, NY:
McKaig Becomes Highest-Placed American Since Race Opened to International Runners in 2005
Mamitu Daska, 27, hits the tape first at the 33rd annual Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany, NY. The Ethiopian, who had placed second in 2009 and third in 2010, dominated the race from the outset and claimed the first place prize of $10,000. A record field of 4,816 women took part in the race, which is the only 5K road race in the world to hold a prestigious silver label designation by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport’s worldwide governing body. (PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Jacobs, sjpics.com)
ALBANY, NY (June 4, 2011) — A record 4,816 women jammed the streets of downtown Albany, NY this morning for the 33rd running of the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K, and it was Mamitu Daska, 27, from Ethiopia who proved swiftest of them all, dominating the race from the outset and crossing the finish line comfortably ahead to claim a first place prize of $10,000.
At the 10 a.m. starting time, crystal clear skies greeted the field, which included Daska, who had placed second in 2009 and third in 2010; three-time past winner, Benita Willis (formerly Johnson) from Australia; and, defending champion and course record (15:12) holder Emily Chebet from Kenya. A powerful US contingent also toed the line, featuring 2009 US Cross-Country champion Emily Brown, Nicole Blood, formerly from Saratoga Springs, and Megan Hogan, formerly from Ballston Spa. Both Blood and Hogan have emerged in recent years as powerful forces on the US distance running scene.
The opening half-mile of the race, with the long climb up Madison Avenue, revealed little, as a cluster of contenders jockeyed for position. Shortly after, Daska forced her way to the forefront and, from that point on, was never headed. Chebet and the emergent Aheza Kiros from Ethiopia — winner of the celebrated Carlsbad 5000 earlier in the year — attempted to cover the move. Although they stayed close early on, Daska's strength was such that there was little they could do.
The first mile marker was passed in 5:06 with Daska maintaining a two-stride lead and Chebet and Kiros running shoulder-to-shoulder. Behind them, the field of contenders had already been consigned to race for minor placings.
Through the rolling hills of Washington Park and out onto Washington Avenue, Daska continued to press her advantage. At two miles, a split of 10:04 signified a significant increase in pace, though it made little difference. The leader remained composed, adding meters to her advantage with every stride. As the lead trio swept back into Washington Park — greeted by the cheers of those at the rear of the field — Chebet made an attempt to gain back the ground she had lost. She gained a small advantage on Kiros, but that was all she could manage, and quickly lost it again. Back onto Madison Avenue for the half-mile stretch towards the finish line, the winner was assured.
While Chebet and Kiros battled for second, Daska charged onward in splendid isolation. At the line, her winning time of 15:19, gave her a four second advantage over Kiros who, in turn, carved a six second margin over the weakening Chebet.
"The race was good, the course was good, the weather was good," commented Daska through interpreter, Sabrina Yohannes, after the race. "I've run this race three times. I'm very happy that I won. I could tell that they couldn't keep up after the first mile, so I kept going."
The second placed Kiros had a different perspective. "I was watching out for the Kenyan who won last year," she stated, implying that while she was focusing on Chebet, Daska stole away. "This was a race that I could have won and should have won."
Chebet, the defending champion, was disappointed, though she explained that injury had blighted her recent training. "It was very tough for me," she explained. "I have had a knee injury since last year. The pace was very hard." This was her first race since competing in Germany several weeks ago.
Though the focus was on the leading African trio, this year's Freihofer's race saw some breakthrough US performances. Alissa McKaig, a member of the US team that won bronze medals in this year's World Cross-Country Championships, stole fourth place just before the line from local favorite, Megan Hogan. In doing so, McKaig became the highest-placed American since this race was opened to international runners in 2005. Hogan had little cause for disappointment, though. Her fifth place finish — along with the 9th place of Emily Armstrong-Peyton and the 11th place of Emily Brown — allowed their club, "Team USA Minnesota," to take the Freihofer's team title and the $1,000 bonus that went with it.
The masters' competition, for runners 40 years of age an older, was dominated by Canada's Lisa Harvey, who stormed through the line in 17:14, comfortably ahead of Emily Bryans from Schenectady, NY (17:39) and Ukraine's Tatyana Byelovol (17:49). Carmen Troncoso (52), a Freihofer's legend, prevailed in the over-50 race (18:12), defeating distance running icon Joan Benoit-Samuelson (54), who finished in a time of 18:22. Samuelson, winner of the 1984 Olympic Games marathon, addressed the runners at the start of the race by calling for a moment of silence for marathoning legend, Grete Waitz, the nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon, who recently passed away after having battled cancer for several years.
Earlier in the day in the USA 10K Race Walk Championships held on the Empire State Plaza's red brick course, Richard Luettcha, 26, of Somerset, NJ cruised to victory in a time of 45:04. The top female finisher was Teresa Vail, 48, of Gainesville, Fla., who crossed the line in 46:55.
For compete race results, click here.
Freihofer's Run for Women Results
1 Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) 15:19 $10,000
2 Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia) 15:23 $5,000
3 Emily Chebet (Kenya) 15:29 $3,000
4 Alissa McKaig (USA) 15:53 $2,000
5 Megan Hogan (USA) 15:55 $1,000
6 Diane Nukuri Johnson (Burundi) 15:57 $750
7 Everlyne Lagat (Kenya) 16:02 $500
8 Tigist Tufa (Ethiopia) 16:05 $300
9 Meghan Armstrong Peyton (USA) 16:13 $250
10 Risper Gesabwa (Kenya) 16:15 $200
Masters (Over 40)
1 Lisa Harvey (Canada) 17:14 $750
2 Emily Bryans (USA) 17:39 $500
3 Tatyana Byelovol (Ukraine) 17:49 $350
1. Carmen Troncoso (USA/TX) 18:12
2. Joan Samuelson (USA/ME) 18:22
USA 10 K Race Walk Championships Results
1 Richard Luettcha, 26, NJ, 45:04
2 Michael Mannozzi, 25, 45:58
3 Kris Shear, 23, MI, 46:40
4 Teresa Vaill, 48, FL, 46:55
5 Michael Nemeth, 18, PA 47:16
6 Dave Talcott, 51, NY, 48:44
7 Erin Taylor-Talcott, 33, NY, 49:49
8 John Soucheck, 45, NJ, 52:28
9 Dan O'Brien, 46, MI, 52:45
The Freihofer's Run for Women event sponsors include Price Chopper Supermarkets, Subway Resturants, CSC, The City of Albany, FOX23, the Times Union, 99.5 The River, host hotel 74 State, and Taste.
Freihofer's, a leading baker of wholesome products, is committed to fostering the growth and recognition of women in sports and inspiring all generations of women to experience the benefits of exercise and good nutrition. Freihofer's continues to set the pace by sponsoring the annual Freihofer's Run for Women 5K. Now in its 33rd year, the event, which is home to the Master's World & U.S. All-Comers record, features thousands of women of all ages and abilities from Olympians to recreational joggers, who challenge themselves on the picturesque 3.1-mile course. For more information, visit http://www.freihofers.com/.