Hall Outduels Tuliamuk to Claim Victory, $10,000 Payday at 39th Freihofer's Run for Women
Syracuse Native Jen Rhines Crowned Masters (Over 40) Champion
ALBANY, N.Y. (June 3, 2017) — The 39th running of the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K, held on the streets of New York’s capital city this morning, featured 3,268 runners, overcast skies and a blazingly fast finish from Sara Hall, 34, from Redding, Calif. Hall came into the race as a marginal second favorite to Aliphine Tuliamuk, 28, originally from Kenya, but these days a U.S. citizen residing in Santa Fe, N.M. After 3.1 miles of racing that was, by turns, aggressive and tactical, Hall proved to be the woman with the wheels, blasting past Tuliamuk with just 25 meters remaining, crossing the finish line two seconds up in a time of 15:49 and taking the first-place prize of $10,000.
Freihofer's has seen its share of close finishes through the years; long-termers still recall the duel to the wire between Betty Springs and Francie Larrieu-Smith back in 1985 when the race was a 10K and too close to call. However, it has been several years since this Albany tradition saw a home straight duel to match this one. “I was just holding on for my dear life,” commented Tuliamuk.
As the race got under way at 9 a.m., a light drizzle began to fall, a headwind sprang up and the cloud cover ensured that temperatures would stray no higher than the 50s. If you wanted to run fast, you could hardly have wished for better conditions. On the down side, the “new” Freihofer's course — this route was instigated three years ago — is marginally more demanding than its predecessor, with more turns and more rolling hills within the confines of Washington Park. None of that seemed to concern Tuliamuk. From the gun, she surged to the forefront and appeared determined to remain there every step of the way. Certainly, the field of elite performers were happy to indulge her. All the favorites were content to draft in her slipstream, including Becky Wade (Boulder, Colo.), Katie Matthews (Brighton, Mass.), Renee Metivier (Bend, Ore.), Ashley Higginson (Morristown, N.J.), and Meghan Peyton (Bloomington, Minn.). At the one kilometer mark, passed in 3:18, close to 20 women held close to the leader. That circumstance would not endure much longer, but it gave clear indication that this race was not about to be won without a battle.
As the field began to elongate, it was Lindsey Scherf, 30, from Scarsdale, N.Y. who was the most aggressive, hanging within two strides of Tuliamuk, as the latter continued to force the pace. At one mile, the split read 5:14, as the leader forged onward, clearly intent on taking this title by sheer intimidation. Back in the pack, however, and almost unnoticed through the opening mile was Hall, who had started cautiously — having run a marathon just two weeks earlier and who had only confirmed her participation three days in advance of the race. Shortly after the first mile had been completed, the Californian edged into third place, closing ground inexorably on Scherf, clearly a hunter with her sights set on the leader.
A two-mile split of 10:23 indicated that the pace was increasing. Scherf was hanging tough, but Tuliamuk was relentless, surging every hill in Washington Park — and there were plenty — trying all she could to open more daylight. As hard as she worked, however, the gap was not widening — at least not on Hall. The latter edged alongside Scherf and then into a clear second position. Tuliamuk still held an eight-meter lead and it didn't appear to be diminishing, at least not for the time being.
Indeed, as the leaders approached the exit from Washington Park and the right turn onto Western Avenue, it appeared as though Tuliamuk was increasing her advantage. Once onto the street, however, things started to change. At the 4K mark, the split was 12:51. Facing the long downhill stretch to the finish, Tuliamuk dug in hard, though with several worried glances over her shoulder. Hall was coming; there was no doubt about that. The sole question was whether she could gain sufficient momentum and then make it count.
Commented the champion after the race, “I think it was Roger Bannister who said, 'In the joy of going all out, I forgot my pain.'”
Tuliamuk hammered every step of the long, long way down Washington Avenue to the finish line. But Hall was a heat-seeking missile locked onto the leader's back. As the finish line approached, she turned on the jets, unleashing a turn of speed to which the erstwhile leader had no response.
“I've raced Sara in the past and I know she has a very good kick,” stated Tuliamuk. “Right after three miles I could feel that she was coming. I think, when I try too hard, I tend to tie up.”
For Hall, who was second here last year, it was a brilliantly executed strategy. “It's really tough to go out hard up the first steep hill," she proffered. “Having run the race last year, I knew the course a bit. Aliphine is an incredible runner. I don't know if I've ever beaten her before. I just said to myself, `I'm going to give myself a shot.’”
The masters' race for women over 40, held no such late-race drama. Three-time Olympian, Jen Rhines, 42, (Boston, Mass.) lined up as favorite and lived up to her billing. Running with the leaders in the first half mile, the Syracuse, N.Y. native held on to the over-40 lead every step of the way to take the crown in a time of 17:14, 18 seconds up on Amy Bevilacqua, 43, from Southbury, Conn. Third was Sara Dunham of Plattsburgh, N.Y.
To paraphrase Hall, in order to win, you've got to take the shot. As the Freihofer's Run for Women now looks forward to its 40th anniversary in 2018, participants in the 39th edition can reflect on a sensational race up front and yet another great day for Albany, N.Y.
Results: 39th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K
1 Sarah Hall (Redding, Calif.) 15:49 ($10,000)
2 Aliphine Tuliamuk (Santa Fe, N.M.) 15:51 ($5,000)
3 Lindsey Scherf (Scarsdale, N.Y.) 16:10 ($3,000)
4 Becky Wade (Louisville, Colo.) 16:16 ($2,000)
5 Katie Matthews (Brighton, Mass.) 16:19 ($1,000)
6 Jamie Cheever (Seattle, Wash.) 16:27 ($750)
7 Renee Metivier (Bend, Ore.) 16:30 ($500)
8 Meghan Payton (Bloomington, Minn.) 16:32 ($300)
9 Kelsey Chmiel (Greenfield Center, N.Y.) 16:43 (High School)
10 Ashley Higginson (Morristown, N.J.) 16:47 ($250)
11 Kathryn Potter (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) 17:08 ($200)
12 Nicole Dimercurio (Blowing Rock, N.C.) 17:09
13 Jen Rhines (Boston, Mass.) 17:14
14 Amy Van Alstine (Flagstaff, Ariz.) 17:16
15 Maegan Krifchin (Silver Spring, Md.) 17:23
16 Mollie Turner (Averill Park, N.Y.) 17:28
17 Amy Bevilacqua (Southbury, Conn.) 17:32
18 Trisha Byler (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) 17:37
19 Eva Scott (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) 17:41
20 Ashley Nevol (Andover, N.Y.) 17:54
Masters (Over 40)
1 Jen Rhines (Boston, Mass.) 17:14 ($750)
2 Amy Bevilacqua (Southbury, Conn.) 17:32 ($500)
3 Sara Dunham (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)17:49 ($350)
Event sponsors include the Charles Freihofer Baking Company, Price Chopper Supermarkets and The City of Albany. Media partners include 99.5 The River and the Times Union