The 32nd running of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K, featuring 3,927 women running through the streets of the New York’s capital city, produced a stunning victory for Kenya’s Emily Chebet, made all the more so by her new course record of 15:12.
Chebet’s new figures bettered the previous best time set by Morocco’s Asmae Leghzaoui at 15:18 in 2005. The six second improvement was the largest in the history of the Freihofer’s 5K.
It was evident from the outset that Chebet was going to be among the most prominent contenders. Having won the World Cross-Country title in March in Poland, she was far from intimidated by a field that included defending Freihofer’s champion (and 2010 Boston Marathon champ) Teyba Erkesso from Ethiopia, Mamitu Daska also from Ethiopia and the second finisher here in 2009, Amane Gobena, the third of the powerhouse Ethiopian contingent and who had placed second here in 2008, and three-time winner Benita Willis from Australia.
From the gun, which sounded at 10 a.m. on Madison Avenue, the pace was cautious. Although all of the favorites were at the forefront — Erkesso, Willis, Chebet, Gobena, Daska, plus Edna Kiplagat (KEN), Julliah Tinega (KEN) and Albany native Elizabeth Maloy — an opening kilometer of 3:13 and a first mile of 5:06 indicated that a course record was all but out of the question. That likelihood was made all the more remote by the increasing heat, which dispelled the humidity that had built overnight, but which did little to ease the oppressive racing conditions.
At two kilometers the clock displayed 6:15, still offering little indication of the fireworks that were about to explode. The first indication of that came close to the 1.5-mile mark when what had been a group of eight leaders was suddenly whittled down to just Erkesso, Daska, Chebet, and Kiplagat, winner of this year’s Los Angeles Marathon. Erkesso was the most aggressive, though in reality none in the foursome was sitting in for the ride. Kiplagat was shadowing every move, while Chebet and Daska hovered alongside, both appearing ominously comfortable.
It was the two-mile split that gave the first tangible evidence of a race in full flight. A clocking of 10:06 revealed a previous mile of 5:00, indicative that the pace was becoming more intense with each passing stride. Surprisingly, it was Erkesso who was the first to feel its effects, conceding two strides approaching 2.25 miles and giving up ground that she would never recoup. She ultimately placed fourth in 15:36.
With just three competitors remaining in the lead pack – and with the long downhill finishing straight along Madison Avenue not far away – it was evident that a monumental battle to the line was about to ensue. Indeed, it was the right hand turn out of Washington Park and onto Madison that was the catalyst for the real racing to begin. Kiplagat made a slight surge, but that was all the impetus Chebet needed. She injected a wicked surge of her own that buried Daska for good, but which also prompted the question of whether she had gone way too hard too soon.
Chebet did not win her World Cross-Country title without tactical savvy, however. Though Kiplagat hung on her heels, the diminutive leader injected a second punishing surge with 350 meters remaining that settled the score for good. At the line, Chebet’s course record of 15:12 gave her a winning margin of eight seconds over Kiplagat, and earned her a winner’s check of $10,000. Asked how she felt about her victory in her second Freihofer’s appearance (she finished 6th in 2007; 15:59), the new champion beamed, “I feel very good.”
“Being the World Cross-Country champion, I knew she had speed,” mused Kiplagat afterwards, who landed in Upstate New York from Kenya late Thursday night to take part in the all-women road race.
Local runner, Elizabeth Maloy, a native of Loudonville and a graduate of Holy Names and Georgetown University, joined Rebecca Donaghue from Pennsylvania in becoming the first US runners to place in the top 10 finishers since 2007. Donaghue placed ninth in 15:50, with Maloy 10th with a time of 15:53.
“I’m not strong enough yet to run with [the leaders] for three miles,” commented Maloy, who competes for the famed New York Athletic Club and focuses primarily on track racing. “But, I’m really happy with how I ran. It was really fun, an amazing experience.”
In the masters competition for runners over 40, Ukraine’s Anzhelika Averkova prevailed over Canada’s Lisa Harvey, 16:40 to 17:05. Averkova, who placed second here last year, received $750 for her victory and stated, “I like the organization of this race. There are lots of fans who give fantastic support. I love running in America.”
“How could you not say that this is the greatest Freihofer’s ever,” remarked Regan, heaping praise on the day’s competitors. “The World Cross-Country champion defeats a world-class field and improves the course record by the biggest margin in our history. That’s what I call a race. Plus, we had the second largest number of registrants ever. This was a great day for Albany.”
Earlier in the day in the USA 10K Race Walk Championships held on the Empire State Plaza’s red brick course, Allen James, 46, of Sanborn, N.Y. cruised to victory in a time of 46:39. The top female finisher in the 36-person field was Teresa Vail, 47, of Gainesville, Fla., who crossed the line in 47:24.
1. Emily Chebet (KEN) 15:12 (CR) $10,000
2. Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 15:20 $5000
3. Mamitu Daska (ETH) 15:23 $3000
4. Teyba Erkesso (ETH) 15:36 $2000
5. Belainesh Zemedkun (ETH) 15:44 $1000
6. Julliah Tinega (KEN) 15:48 $750
7. Benita Willis (AUS) 15:49 $500
8. Amane Gobena (ETH) 15:50 $300
9. Rebecca Donaghue (USA/PA) 15:50 $250
10. Elizabeth Maloy (USA/NY) 15:53 $200
Masters (Over 40)
1. Anzhelika Averkova (UKR) 16:40 $750
2. Lisa Harvey (CAN) 17:05 $500
3. Paula Wiltse (CAN) 17:28 $350
1. Carmen Troncoso (USA/TX) 17:47
2. Joan Samuelson (USA/ME) 17:48
USA 10 km Race Walk Championships Results
1 Allen James, 46, M, Sanborn, NY 46:39 ($500)
2 Dave McGovern, 44, M, Locus Valley, NY, 47:22 ($400)
3 Teresa Vaill, 47, F, Gainesville, FL, 47:24 ($300)
4 Dan Serianni, 19, M, Rochester, NY, 48:48 ($200)
5 Dave Talcott, 50, M, Johnson City, NY, 50:42 ($100)
6 Alejandro Chavez, 17, M, Pharr, TX 51:24
7 John Soucheck, 44, M, Little Silver, NJ, 52:24
8 David Swarts, 45, M, Jackson, MI, 52:51
9 Dan O’Brien, 45, M, Port Huron, MI, 53:14
10 Omar Nash, 36, M, Cincinnati, OH, 53:35
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.
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
A wet and overcast morning did nothing to dampen the intensity of competition in the 34th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women, held this morning on the streets of Albany. Close to 5000 women lined up on Madison Avenue, adjacent to the Empire State Plaza, in the heart of the New York state capital. Among them were some of the world’s finest middle and long distance runners, including defending champion, Mamitu Daska from Ethiopia, three-time champion, Benita Willis (Australia) and a host of others, all with their eyes on the first place prize of $10,000.
Despite the intentions of anybody else in the elite field, however, once the gun sounded, this race was all about the defending champion. Twelve months previously, she had been aggressive from the opening strides; this time around, she was even more so. As the field charged through the opening uphill 600m, Daska was immediately at the forefront, joined only by her compatriots Alemitu Abera and Ashu Kasim, plus Kenya’s Genoveva Kigen, Jellilah Tinega and Gesabwa Risper. Nearing the one kilometer mark in Washington Park, that group was down to just Daska, Kigen and Abera; and, by one mile (5:00) the leader was in unquestioned control.
So early in the race, nothing could be set in stone; but, as the defending champ forged onward, the only indication that there might be some question in her mind came from the occasional backward glance over her shoulder.
Leaving the rolling pathways of the Park and turning onto Lake Avenue, Daska was in total control. Behind her, Kigen and Abera were forced to deal with the challenges of Kasim and Risper, not to mention an emergent phalanx of Americans, fronted by Michelle Frey, Laura Thweatt, Rebecca Donaghue and Lindsey Scherf. Willis was also in the mix; though, for once, she was not the sole Australian, being joined by her compatriot, Lara Tamsett.
That battle was for the minor placings, however. At the forefront, Daska was all alone and unchallenged. As she passed two miles (10.01 – a second mile of 5:01), the question began to emerge: could she challenge the blazing fast course record of 15:12, set by Emily Chebet in 2010? On that occasion, Chebet had closed with a lightning fast final kilometer: 2:41. Chebet had also had late race company. Daska was flying solo.
Even so, with 1K remaining, the record was within her grasp. It’s a long way home, however; and, with no one to challenge her, even a runner as dominant as Daska sometimes has to concede. Although she blasted the long downhill stretch to the finish line, her finishing time of 15:20, missed the course all time best by eight seconds. That was hardly cause for disappointment; the re-crowned champion still held a massive 17 second margin over second placed Ashu Kasim (15:37), who prevailed in the battle for the minor placings over Alemitu Abera (15:41).
“Even under these weather conditions, I enjoyed the race and I feel good about it,” commented Daska. “I’m very happy to have won for the second year. I did feel confident, but the fans along the course made me even more confident, and that helped me to win. I was most fearful of the other two Ethiopians.”
Kasim, who experienced some back pain immediately before the start, had hoped for a different result. “I thought I would catch her,” she stated, “but I was a little tired.” Among the American hopefuls, Michelle Frey fronted one of the finest domestic Freihofer’s performances in some years. Her sixth place finish (16:03), led four Americans into the top 11. Last year there were three in 10.
The masters’ race among competitors aged 40 and above was a true nail biter. Sheri Piers, coached by Benita Willis and the first placed American overall at this year’s Boston Marathon, held a marginal lead for much of the race, though she was shadowed all the way by new 40-year old Dorota Gruca from Poland, a 2008 Olympic marathoner. In the latter stages, however, Gruca’s strength told the tale and she crossed the line 10 seconds up, 16:50 to 17:00. Third place went to last year’s winner, Lisa Harvey from Canada (17:22).
“I’m happy I could win,” exulted Gruca. “My training has been going very well. I ran a smart race and I was a little careful in the first mile. I’m used to this humidity; I’m training in New Mexico. The girl I ran with (Piers) did a great job.”
Prior to the women’s 5K, the national championship 10K race walk was held in the spectacular surroundings of the Empire State Plaza. As with Mamitu Daska, the damp conditions did nothing to inhibit some dominant performances. Among the men, Dan Serianni from Rochester, NY, prevailed by well over a minute, taking the US title in a time of 44:25 from Miami’s Michael Mannozzi (45:40). Third place went to New Jersey’s Richard Luettchau in a time of 45:46.
The ever-green Teresa Vaill, 49 years old from Gainesville, FL, claimed the women’s title in even more dominating style. Her time of 47:41 earned her the US crown by well over two minutes from Owego, NY’s Erin Taylor-Talcott (50:00). Susan Randall from Miami placed third in 50:38.
“Every year at this race, I feel that I’ve witnessed something special in our city,” enthused Race Director George Regan. “All these events have become so dear to the people of Albany, that it’s now a part of our culture. Our elite athletes are welcomed so warmly, and they come back again and again. Our race field gets bigger every year and we do all that we came to make everybody know how special they are. And the competition simply gets better and better. This year, the rain made no difference at all. We had a fantastic race, and a fantastic day. It was a great day for Albany.”
Top 10 Open
1 15:19.1 Mamitu Daska Ethiopia $10,000
2 15:36.7 Ashu Kasim Ethiopia $5,000
3 15:40.2 Alemitu Abera Ethiopia $3,000
4 15:46.1 Gesabwa Risper Kenya $2,000
5 15:52.4 Genoveva Kigen Kenya $1,000
6 16:02.2 Michelle Frey USA $750
7 16:06.6 Jelliah Tinega Kenya $500
8 16:13.8 Lara Tamsett Australia $300
9 16:14.2 Laura Thweatt USA $250
10 16:16.7 Rebecca Donaghue USA $200
Top 7 Masters (Over 40)
1 14 16:49.6 Dorota Gruca Poland
2 15 17:00.0 Sheri Piers USA
3 18 17:21.8 Lisa Harvey Canada
4 19 17:29.3 Kara Haas USA
5 28 18:17.1 Lori Kingsley USA
6 30 18:22.7 Joan Benoit Samuelson USA
7 31 18:24.4 Emily Bryans USA
USA 10 km Race Walk Championships Results
1. Dan Serianni (21), World Class Team, Rochester NY………… 44:25
2. Michael Mannozzi (26), Miami Valley TC, Miami FL…………45:40
3. Richard Luettchau (27), Shore AC, Somerset NJ………………45:46
4. Ben Shorey (29), Shore AC, Kenosha WI………………………47:15
5. Dave Talcott (52), Shore AC, Owego NY………………………48:31
6. Kyle Hively (24), Shore AC, Gallipoles OH……………………50:22
7. Dan O’Brien (47), Pegasus AC, Port Huron, MI………………..53:09
8. Mark Green (56), Pegasus AC, MI………………………………53:28
9. Andrew Smith (62), Pegasus AC, ……………………………….55:07
10. Bill Vayo (47), Walk USA, NY……………………………..….57:29
11. Robert Keating (65), New England Walkers, CT………………58:33
12. Bruce Logan (47), Park RW, New York City, NY……………..1:00:50
13. Tom Quattrocchi (61), Shore AC, NJ………………………..…1:10:58
14. Omar Nash(38), Miami Valley TC, Miami, FL…………………DNF
1. Teresa Vaill (49), Pegasus AC, Gainesville, FL……………….…..47:41
2. Erin Taylor-Talcott (34), Shore AC, Owego, NY………..…….…..50:00
3. Susan Randall (38), Miami Valley TC, Dayton, OH……………… 50:38
4. Rachael Tylock (19), Mansfield Univ., Mansfield, PA………….…51:54
5. Maite Moscoso (34), Florida AC, Longwood, FL…………….. .…..52:53
6. Katie Smith (24), Pegasus TC, Grand Rapids, MI………………….1:00:17
7. Debbie Topham (58), Pegasus AC, Mayville, MI…………………..1:01:02
8. Cheryl Armstrong (under 40), Raleigh Walkers, NC……………….1:03:53
9. Sandra Denoon (57), Florida AC, FL………………………………..1:07:58
10. Panseluta Geer (65), Shore AC, NJ………………………………….1:08:14
11. Maria Paul (47), Shore AC, NJ………………………………………1:13:00
At today’s 35th running of the Freihofer’s Run for Women, held on the streets of downtown Albany, Kenya’s Emily Chebet proved that there’s a lot to be said for course knowledge. Against world-class competition, Chebet, 27, prevailed in a time of 15:26, defeating two of her compatriots, Esther Chemtai (15:32) and Isabella Ochichi (15:35). For her victory, Chebet earned a prize of $10,000. Chemtai and Ochichi earned $5,000 and $3,000 respectively.
In 2010 Chebet had set the Freihofer’s course record of 15:12 — an exceptional time on the rolling Albany course. That time, plus the Kenyan’s victory in this year’s World Cross- Country Championships in Poland, were all that was necessary to indicate that she would be the woman to beat in this year’s Freihofer’s race.
Temperatures in the mid-80s (approaching 30 degrees Celsius) did not deter a record field of 5,045 starters. However, it did prompt Chebet to opt for a tactical strategy rather than an all-out assault on her own course mark. From the gun, she settled in behind Chemtai and Ochichi, allowing them to control the pace and entertain thoughts of claiming the victory. A first kilometer of 3:09 and an opening mile of 5:05 gave evidence of a testing pace — all the more so given the burgeoning heat — but also signified that this outcome would be determined as much by tactics as by raw speed.
In the wake of the three leaders, a small pack gave chase, a group that included Ethiopians Amane Gobena, Merima Mohammed and Zemzem Ahmed, plus Burundi’s Diane Nukuri Johnson and New Jersey’s surprising Amy Van Alstine. The rolling hills just past the first mile quickly determined, however, that the Kenyan trio would be the ones to decide the places on the podium. As Chemtai maintained the momentum, with Ochichi on her shoulder and Chebet tucked in behind, inexorable daylight opened on the few remaining chasers, giving definitive evidence that this was going to be entirely a three-woman race.
Leaving the shade of Washington Park, Ochichi, Chemtai and Chebet pressed hard along the open expanse of Western Avenue and Washington Avenue. At the two-mile mark, passed in around 10:12, Chemtai held her customary position at the forefront, with Ochichi alongside and Chebet still tucked in. With the lead trio safely ahead — holding 45 meters on Van Alstine, Gobena and Mohammed — and with nobody making any demonstrative moves, it was evident that this was going to come down to a flat out sprint for the finish line.
That was how it transpired and that was how course knowledge played to Chebet’s advantage. As the leading trio wound its way back through Washington Park and out onto Madison Avenue for the 600m charge to the finish line, Chebet pushed to the front for the first time in the race. Though it first appeared to be a gentle increase in tempo, in reality it was a blistering increase in pace. Ochichi, who had looked remarkably comfortable, was dropped almost immediately. Chemtai mounted an initial response, but she too had little to offer once Chebet truly lit the afterburners. Along the final 200m downhill straight, Chebet had it all to herself, her six-second advantage at the line giving all the evidence that was needed of the dominance of her performance.
“We were right together,” she stated after her victory. “Then I said to myself, ‘Go!’” Not a bad tactic, when you think about it.
Marathoning legend, Joan Samuelson, who placed second (to Carmen Troncoso) in the over-50 division, commented of Chebet, “Any time you have a world champion come back to Friehofer’s, that’s amazing.”
The over-40 race offered none of the late race drama of the open division, with Poland’s Dorota Gruca dominating the division and taking a second consecutive title in a time of 17:00. Second place went to Sheri Piers from Maine, now coached by former World Cross-Country Champion, Benita Willis, who recorded a time of 17:25.
“When you’re older, you have to listen to your body,” asserted Gruca. “That’s what I did today. I didn’t pay attention to the three at the front, as they are great runners. It was a tough race. I wanted to run faster, but in these conditions, I was just happy to do what I did.”
The USA 5k Race Walk Championship took place on the Empire State Plaza in Albany, NY.
In the accompanying USA 5K Race Walk Championship, victories went to Richard Luettchau from Somerset, NJ, among the men, in a time of 22:28 and Maria Mitcha from Nesconset, NY, among the women, in a time of 23:18.
Freihofer’s Run for Women Event Director George Regan was especially satisfied with how things went in his race’s 35th edition. “Obviously, the heat was a concern,” he stated. “The most important thing was for all of our runners to finish comfortably and safely. But, we had a record field, a fantastic race and wonderful champion. What more could you want for a 35th birthday present? This was a great day for Albany.”
For complete results, visit https://freihofersrun.com/race_results.htm
Event sponsors include the Charles Freihofer Baking Company, Price Chopper Supermarkets, CSC, The City of Albany, FOX23, the Times Union, and 99.5 The River.
35th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K
1 Emily Chebet (Kenya) 15:26 ($10,000)
2 Esther Chemtai (Kenya) 15:32 ($5,000)
3 Isabella Ochichi (Kenya) 15:35 ($3,000)
4 Amy Van Alstine (USA) 16:01 ($2,000)
5 Merima Mohammed (Ethiopia) 16:02 ($1,000)
6 Amane Gobena (Ethiopia) 16:06 ($750)
7 Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) 16:08 ($500)
8 ZemZem Ahmed (Ethiopia) 16:20 ($300)
9 Alice Kimutai (Kenya) 16:30 ($250)
10 Meagan Hogan (USA) 16:30 ($200)
11 Michelle Frey (USA) 16:31
12 Millicent Kuria (Kenya) 16:33
13 Tera Moody (USA) 16:35
14 Sarah Crouch (USA) 16:56
15 McKenzie Melander (USA) 16:58
16 Diane Nukuri Johnson (Burundi) 16:58
17 Jodie Robertson (USA) 17:36
18 Sarah Loerch (USA) 18:02
19 Sara Dunham (USA) 18:10
20 Mesha Brewer (USA) 18:11
Masters (Over 40)
1 Dorota Gruca (Poland) 17:00 $750
2 Sheri Piers (USA) 17:25 $500
3 Trina Painter (USA) 18:08 $350
1. Carmen Troncoso (USA) 18:56
2. Joan Samuelson (USA) 18:58
USA 5K Race Walk Championships Results
1 Richard Luettchau Somerset, NJ (28) 22:28
2 David Swarts Jackson, MI (48) 23:38
3 Dave Talcott Owego, NY (53) 24:57
4 Dan O’Brien Port Huron, MI (48) 26:34
5 Bill Vayo White Plains, NY (48) 27:40
1 Maria Mitcha Nesconset, NY (28) 23:18
2 Teresa Vaill Gainesville, FL (50) 23:36
3 Katie Burnett Rochester, NY (24) 24:09
4 Rachael Tylock Rochester, NY (20) 25:33
5 Janelle Brown Midland, MI (24) 28:56
A blustery day with perfect racing temperatures greeted 4,112 women as they lined up downtown for the start of the 36th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women. In the course of its illustrious history, the Freihofer’s race has seen some of the world’s most celebrated competitors going head to head on the streets of the New York state capital, including eight-time winner Lynn Jennings and Olympic legend Joan Samuelson. Jennings was not in Albany this year, but Benoit-Samuelson was (she won the over 55 division), offering some inspiring words to the runners before joining the assembled mass as Event Director George Regan sent the field underway.
Emily Chebet (KEN), the defending champion (who had set the course record at 15:12 in 2010) was not among the contenders this year, having been encouraged by her home country’s national federation to focus on the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. That did nothing to dilute the depth of the field, however, as even a cursory glance as the early race leaders affirmed. As the hoard charged up the opening hill, two-time winner (2011, 2012) Mamitu Daska (ETH) was already at the forefront, as were two-time Olympian Lucy Kabuu (KEN), Boston Marathon second placer Buzunesh Deba (ETH), 15:01 track runner Afera Godfay (ETH), 2008 Olympian Zemzem Ahmed (ETH) and a handful of others who were all capable of taking the prestigious crown and, with it, the first place prize of $10,000.
As is invariably the case at Freihofer’s, where the opening hill encourages early-race caution, the first kilometer did little other than to allow all of the contenders to clear the runway. All who should have been there were, including local favorite Megan Hogan from Ballston Spa (9th here last year) and Amy Van Alstine from Arizona (4th in 2013). Passing that first kilometer marker a couple of ticks over 3:00 it was clear that the pace was going to be like the day: brisk with a certainty of increasing heat.
The first mile marker at Freihofer’s, adjacent to the Lakehouse in Washington Park, is the first true frame of reference. The ultimate winner is always prominent here and the split time often gives a strong indication of just how swift the time at the tape may be. This year was no different. The clock showed an opening mile of 5:06 – fast but not blistering – with Daska, Kabuu, Godfey, Ahmed, Kenya’s Alice Kamunya and a flotilla of others all contending for the pole position.
It is close to the one and a half mile mark that the Freihofer’s course presents a short sharp incline that serves as the first true test. It is at this point that the strong forge onward and those feeling the pace show the first cracks in their armor. With Daska and Kabuu still fronting the charge, the pace and the incline took their toll, quickly pruning those in contention to the two leaders plus Godfay and Kamunya. Leaving the park and heading towards the long open stretch of road along Western Avenue, Kamunya was the next to fall adrift, leaving just three in the hunt – Daska, Kabuu and Godfay – as the two mile mark swept by in 10:05.
Those numbers explained much, detailing a 4:59 second mile through the rolling second half of the course; little wonder that only three remained. Approaching the final mile, there was no indication of which of the super-fast trio would prevail. Daska had won twice already; Kabuu was new but in superb form, as evidenced by her 31:48 win in the TCS World 10K in Bangalore in April; Godfay was….who knew? It was wide open.
It was only with 800m remaining that the answers were revealed. The leaders made the left hand turn onto Madison Avenue with the finish line tantalizingly over the horizon. Kabuu was the first to respond, increasing the tempo – not violently, but distinctly. Godfay was gone almost immediately. Daska hung close, but she lost a stride. At that stage of the race, that stride was crucial. Running flat out, spurred by the roars of the crowd, a stride lost at this juncture can be a race lost. Which it was. Kabuu flew down the expansive home straight, gaining precious inches with each meter and crossing the finish line in a time of 15:20. Daska crossed one second later, with Godfey holding on for third in 15:28.
“I’m so happy,” the winner exulted. Asked if it had always been her to plan to be at or close to the front of the field at all times, she responded, “When you run together, the race is very interesting. So I prefer to run my own pace. Keeping that up is tough, but I always prefer to run my own pace.” Kabuu further revealed that the marathon is her preferred distance and that the Freihofer’s race was a key component in her preparation for the Commonwealth Games, being held in Glasgow, Scotland this summer.
Daksa, the two-time winner, was succinct: “It was difficult at the end to catch Lucy,” she stated.
In the over 40 competition, the victory went to one-time teen prodigy Melody Fairchild (CO), now a master’s prodigy. She scored a powerful victory over Sheri Piers (ME), 17:13 to 17:42. “I’m so thankful that Sheri is here,” Fairchild stated. “This is the first time that I’ve been here in 16 years. I felt strong on the hills. I don’t have words for how thrilling it is to be back.”
In the 5K race walk for both men and women, held at the Empire State Plaza and doubling as the USATF Race Walk Championship, Maria Michta established a new American in the women’s event, while Michael Mannozzi won the men’s division. Michta, from Nesconset, NY, completed the course in 21:57, which clipped the old mark by 17 seconds (22:15). Mannozzi, from Youngstown, OH, finished with a personal record of 21:19.
With 36 successful editions behind him, Regan was in a good position to place this year’s Freihofer’s Run for Women in perspective. “The competition was amazing at every level,” he stated. “Lucy was spectacular. Melody is a wonderful new master’s champion. We saw a new US record in the race walk. All of our competitors here today make me so proud. This is a great day for Albany.”
36th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K Results:
1 Lucy Wangui Kabuu (Kenya) 15:21 ($10,000)
2 Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) 15:22 ($5,000)
3 Afera Godfay Berha (Ethiopia) 15:28 ($3,000)
4 Zemzem Ahmed (Ethiopia) 15:45 ($2,000)
5 Agnes Cheserek (Kenya) 15:50 ($1,000)
6 Megan Hogan (USA) 15:50 ($750)
7 Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) 16:05 ($500)
8 Alice Kamunya (Kenya) 16:08 ($300)
9 Rene Kalmer (South Africa) 16:12 ($250)
10 Rkia El Moukim (Morocco) 16:17 ($200)
11 Genet Beyene (Ethiopia) 16:20
12 Amy Van Alstine (USA) 16:29
13 Christine Kalmer (South Africa) 16:38
14 Michelle Lilienthal (USA) 16:42
15 Nolene Conrad (South Africa) 16:53
16 Melody Fairchild (USA) 17:13
17 Sara Dunham (Plattsburgh NY) 17:31
18 Sheri Piers (USA) 17:42
19 Jennifer Mortimer (New London NH) 17:51
20 Brittany Burns (Watertown NY) 17:55
Masters (Over 40)
1 Melody Fairchild (USA) 17:13 $750
2 Sheri Piers(USA) 17:42 $500
3 Paula Wiltse (CAN) 18:00 $350
Over 50 1. Marisa Sutera Strange (USA) 18:16
2. Joan Samuelson (USA) 19:02
Full results: https://freihofersrun.com
USA 5K Race Walk Championships Results
1. Mike Mannozzi Youngstown, OH (28) 21:19
2. John Cody Risch Grand Rapids, MI (23) 21:27
3. Rich Luettchau Somerset, N.J. (29) 22:07
4. Zbigniew Sadlej Macomb, MI (52) 22:27
5. David Swartz Jackson, MI (49) 23:24
1. Maria Michta Nesconset, N.Y. (29) 21:57 (New American 5K Record)
2. Katie Burnett Rochester, N.Y. (25) 24:20
3. Erin Taylor-Talcott Owego, N.Y. (36) 24:37
4. Meaghan Podlaski Colonie, N.Y. (16) 25:32
5. Annica Penn Westhampton Beach, N.Y. (18) 27:15
Perfect running weather and a new course greeted a field of 3,807 runners for this morning’s 37th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women. The course re-design was made necessary by a beautification project of the stunning Empire State Plaza, a change that will remain in place for the race through 2016.
Conjecture about the new geography was matched by speculation about the ultimate winner of the $10,000 first place prize. On paper, the new course appeared faster; a less steep incline in the opening mile, fewer turns and more shade. Would this play into the hands of speedsters such as two-time champion and course record holder (15:12) Emily Chebet (KEN) and Buze Diriba (ETH)? Or would it favor strength runners such a Burundian Olympic marathoner Diane Nukuri and Ethiopia’s Meskerem Assefa? As the gun fired at 9:30 a.m. to set the field underway, there were even more questions than usual.
The opening mile answered very few. Possibly it was trepidation about the new course; possibly it was a natural hesitation among the favorites to be a rabbit for the field. Whatever the reason, the opening kilometer was passed in a pedestrian 3:21 with the first mile reached in a comfortable 5:20. “Even if we’d come off a 100-mile training week, we’re all capable of running that pace,” commented Nukuri. “We were all just watching each other.”
The start of the 2015 Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany, NY. The 37th edition of the event featured 3,807 runners and a new course starting in front of City Hall and adjacent to the State Capitol building. Photo by Steve Jacobs. Click image for high resolution.
In fact, in the early going it was Nukuri who featured most often at the forefront of the large lead group of approximately 25 women. Cynthia Limo (KEN), who had logged a personal 5K best of 15:12 in Boston in April, was alongside her; but, in reality, there was no leader. This was a congested group of the world’s best women, all “just watching each other,” and almost all capable of taking this crown.
Through the shaded roadways of Washington Park the field hung together, although it was inevitable that the dawdling pace should begin to become less so. A second kilometer of 3:14 (6:35 at 2kms) and a third of the same duration brought the field to 3kms in a time of 9:49 and two miles in 10:29. The second mile was, therefore, 11 seconds faster than the first; still not blistering, but evidence that things were beginning to shake loose.
The clearest evidence of that was the trimming of the pack from 20 or more to about 12. Nukuri Johnson and Limo were still prominent, but Diriba was also making her presence felt, as was Assefa, Kenya’s Isabella Ochichi, the Olympic Games 5000m silver medalist from 2004, and a clutch of others, including Americans Serena Burla, Lindsay Flanagan and Megan Hogan, the latter a native of nearby Ballston Spa, N.Y. Traditionally, at this point in the Freihofer’s race, the leading two or three contenders are clear. In this 37th edition, all that was clear was that somebody needed to make a move.
It came leaving the park and making the right hand turn back onto Washington Avenue for the three-quarter mile stretch to the finish line. Limo injected a surge that was immediately covered by Chebet and Diriba and, quickly, the crowd that had been hopeful contenders was reduced to spectators. With the expanse of Washington Avenue and its progressive downhill before them, Limo, Chebet and Diriba raced shoulder to shoulder, the $10,000 winner’s check providing extra incentive, as if it were needed. Evidently, the roars of the crowd were all it took for Chebet. With less than 400m remaining, the two-time winner put it into over-drive and secured her place among the exclusive group of three-time Freihofer’s winners. (Lynn Jennings, Marla Runyan and Benita Willis are the others). The chasers fought hard to deny Chebet; but, at the line, her time of 15:38 gave her three seconds in hand over Limo (15:41) and a further four seconds over Diriba (15:45). Nukuri Johnson, the early leader, placed seventh in 16:07, with Burla being first American (eighth overall in 16:11) and local-woman Hogan placing 11th in 16:16.
“The course was very good,” asserted Chebet smiling. What else was there to say?
Burla added: “I just wanted to mix it up and put my best effort out there. We went out slower than usual, but that was fine with me.” Remarkably, in 2011, a tumor on Burla’s hamstring required the removal of a major part of that muscle, leading to conjecture as to whether she would ever run again.
The master’s race for women over 40 was subject to almost as much speculation as the open race. Melody Fairchild, the 2014 champion, was back to defend her title; but, Russia’s Lyubov Denisova, dominant on the roads in recent seasons, was also in the field and poised to make her mark. In the end, it was a one-woman race, as Fairchild romped home in a time of 17:34, taking 21st place overall, her closest rival being 51-year-old Marissa Sutera Strange, who placed 23rd in a time of 17:43.
“I’ve been training in a different way,” explained Fairchild, so I’m glad I answered my own question as to whether I’ve been doing the right thing.” The “different way” is with a focus on the Leadville Trail 100 Run, a 100-mile trail race in her home state of Colorado in which she will compete in August.
George Regan, event director since its inception, was ecstatic about the race, its outcome and the positive comments about the new course. “To have a three-time champion is magnificent,” he enthused. “Emily is now officially one of the Freihofer’s ‘greats.’ But it was just a great day overall. We had participants from 20 states and 22 countries. We had two defending champions in Emily Chebet and Melody Fairchild and we had a new course that everybody seemed to love. This was a great day for the Freihofer’s Run for Women and a superb day for Albany.”
37th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K
1 Emily Chebet (Kenya) 15:38 ($10,000)
2 Cynthia Limo (Kenya) 15:41 ($5,000)
3 Buze Diriba (Ethiopia) 15:45 ($3,000)
4 Isabella Ochichi (Kenya) 15:49 ($2,000)
5 Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) 15:55 ($1,000)
6 Amane Gobena (Ethiopia) 15:59 ($750)
7 Diana Nukuri Johnson (Burundi) 16:07 ($500)
8 Serena Burla (Stafford, VA) 16:11 ($300)
9 Lindsay Flanagan (Washington DC) 16:16 ($250)
10 Nezret Weldu (Eritrea) 16:16 ($200)
11 Megan Hogan (New York, NY) 16:18
12 Alissa McKaig, (Blowing Rock, NC) 16:29
13 Makida Abdella (Ethiopia) 16:30
14 Monicah Ngige (Kenya) 16:35
15 Ann Wanjiru (Kenya) 16:40
16 Hannah Davidson (Fayetteville, NY) 16:52
17 Andie Cozzarelli (Raleigh, NC) 16:55
18 Chrissie Ramsey (New Haven, CT) 17:14
19 Sheree Shea (San Diego, CA) 17:23
20 Salome Kosgei (Kenya) 17:27
Masters (Over 40)
1 Melody Fairchild (Boulder, Colo.) 17:34 $750
2 Christy Peterson (Chicago, Ill.) 17:48 ($500)
3. Lyubov Denisova (Russia) 17:52 $350
1. Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley, NY) 17:43
“This is a huge surprise to me,” Brianne Nelson, 33, from Golden, Colo. was commenting moments after taking the $10,000 first prize at the 38th annual Freihofer’s Run or Women. In taking the title from an all-American field in a time of 15:45, Nelson finished 10 seconds ahead of the more favored Sarah Hall from Redding, Calif., who finished in 15:55 and 25 seconds up on the emergent Maegan Krifchin from Silver Springs, Md. who crossed the line in 16:10.
“The 5K distance is a little out of my wheelhouse,” stated the newly-crowned champion, who has a 32:33 10K best and for whom this was her first ever 5K at sea-level. “I didn’t have any expectations. I think I’ll do another one!”
With a 5K best time at least 20 seconds faster than anybody else in the field of 3,709 runners, most of the pre-race attention focused on Hall, a four-time member of the US World Cross-Country team and the 12th place finisher in this year’s London Marathon. From the outset, however, Hall appeared sluggish, stating afterwards that she found the early going difficult. “The beginning was kind of tough, but I tend to like to work my way up in races.”
In the opening half mile, it was Serena Burla from Stafford, Va. who was the most aggressive, forcing her way to the front of a 12-woman pack. Nelson and a clutch of other favorites held close, but even at this stage Hall was dangerously adrift. As she avowed, though, the Californian forced her way through the pack, coming within three strides of the leaders as the mile marker in Washington Park drew near. Unfortunately for Hall, it was at that point that Nelson decided that it was time to go.
“The hills are where I feel comfortable and strongest, and Sara Hall is one tough girl,” explained Nelson. “So, I knew I had to push it. I made my decisive move a little before the one-mile mark. I really pushed that downhill.”
With the first mile passed in 5:14, it was evident that the race was on. With Nelson charging onward, Hall worked hard to give pursuit and the field quickly elongated into single-file. Although it was never over until it was over, and while Hall never stopped working hard to close the ground she was inexorably losing, Nelson’s move had done the trick. At the two- mile mark (10:21), her lead had stretched to 30 meters and it appeared that it would take a major crisis to prevent Nelson from taking this title. As she made the right hand turn to exit Washington Park and begin the half mile home stretch along Washington Avenue to the majestic New York State Capitol, the wave of support from the slower runners, still heading out along the course, was deafening. Nelson allowed herself – and them – a brief smile before re-focusing one last time to ensure that this one was not about to get away.
“I was hoping she would come back,” stated Hall. “I was charging hard, trying to use every bit of that last downhill to catch her. But she ran a great race!”
Smiling again, Nelson simply observed, “I’m super shocked to be here.”
The change to an all-American field this year was a topic of discussion among both race organizers and elite competitors. “It’s nice to compete against the best in the world,” observed the new Freihofer’s champion, “but it’s also nice to come to a race and know you have a chance to take home some prize money.”
The masters’ competition, for women over-40, was just as competitive as the open competition, albeit in a different manner. This race evolved into a three-way sprint between last year’s second place finisher, Marissa Sutera-Strange (52), Renee Tolan (41) of nearby Clifton Park and Sheri Piers (44). At the finish line, eight seconds covered all three, with Sutera-Strange taking the decision by three seconds over Tolan (17:41 to 17:44).
“We were together most of the race,” explained the winner. “We went through the first mile in about 5:40 then Renee took off and got about 20m. Approaching two miles, I made a surge; but, I could hear the crowd shouting, so I knew that she (Tolan) was still close. I’m very pleased. I feel really lucky.”
Sutera-Strange would turn 53 one week after the race. Notably, she previously won the Freihofer’s open 5K in 1986. At that time, race day comprised both a 5K and a 10K, the latter being the US championship.
Also competing in the Freihofer’s over-40 competition was racing legend, Joan Samuelson, winner of the Olympic Games women’s marathon in 1984. In Albany, Samuelson, now 59, finished as sixth master, 47th overall, in a time of 19:31.
“Just when I think this race can’t get any better, it does,” asserted Event Director George Regan. “Even after 38 editions, we still see spectacular competitions, amazing participation and an enthusiasm that you won’t see anywhere else. This was just a great day for Albany.”
Results: 38th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K
1 Brianne Nelson (Golden, Colo.) 15:46 ($10,000)
2 Sarah Hall (Redding, Calif.) 15:56 ($5,000)
3 Maegan Krifchin (Silver Spring Md.) 16:11 ($3,000)
4 Allie Kieffer (New York N.Y.) 16:18 ($2,000)
5 Serena Burla (Stafford, Va.) 16:21 ($1,000)
6 Megan Peyton (Bloomington, Minn.) 16:27 ($750)
7 Katy Moen (South St Paul, Minn.) 16:30 ($500)
8 Jessica Watychowicz (Silver Spring, Md.) 16:34 ($300)
9 Joanna Thompson (Blowing Rock, N.C.) 16:44 ($250)
10 Juliet Bottorff (Brighton, Mass.) 16:49 ($200)
11 Nicole Dimercurio (Blowing Rock, N.C.) 16:55
12 Dani Miller (Rochester Hills, Mich.) 17:17
13 Sinead Haughey (Blowing Rock, N.C.) 17:25
14 Tera Moody (Chicago, Ill.) 17:26*
15 Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) 17:41
16 Renee Tolan (Clifton Park, N.Y.) 17:44
17 Sheri Piers (Falmouth, ME) 17:49
18 Erin Lopez (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) 17:49
19 Amelia Mahoney (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) 17:55
20 Brittany Burns (Watertown, N.Y.) 17:57
Masters (Over 40)
1 Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) 17:41 ($750)
2 Renee Tolan (Clifton Park, N.Y.) 17:44 ($500)
3 Sheri Piers (Falmouth, ME) (17:49)
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)
Sarah Pagano of Brighton, Mass., surged to the lead in the final 400 meters and won the 40th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women with a time of 15 minutes, 48 seconds.
The 26 -year-old was the first of 3,567 participants to complete the 5K course on a breezy, overcast morning in downtown Albany, N.Y. She earned a $10,000 prize and matched her personal 5K record.
“I’m really happy,” said Pagano, who runs for the Boston Athletic Association. “I came in and just wanted to compete and not worry about anything else, just do the best I could. I’m really happy to be able to come away with the win.”
Pagano, who ran track at Syracuse University and was the 2012 Big East outdoor 10,000m champion, was five seconds ahead of runner-up Steph Bruce (Flagstaff, Ariz.).
Diane Nukuri (Flagstaff, Ariz.), a three-time Olympian representing her native Burundi before becoming a U.S. citizen last year, led for most of the race and placed third.
Kelsey Chmiel, a 16-year-old from Greenfield Center, N.Y., who runs for nearby Saratoga Springs High School, was 10th with a time of 16:45.
The race began adjacent to the New York State Capitol under comfortable conditions with low humidity and temperatures in the upper 60s.
Nukuri and about seven other runners quickly put several meters distance between themselves and the rest of the field. They wrapped up the first kilometer, a mostly uphill stretch along Washington Avenue, in 3:16 and the first mile in 5:13.
By the time the leaders turned into the tree-lined Washington Park, Pagano, Bruce and Nukuri established themselves as a clear lead pack with Nukuri running a few strides ahead through the winding, hilly pavement and covering the first two miles in 10:25.
Nukuri appeared to be pulling away as the leaders turned back onto Washington Avenue for the final kilometer. But Pagano soon made her move, flashing a strong finishing kick with about a quarter mile left that vaulted her into the lead. She motored the last kilometer in 2:56.
“I knew there was a big downhill,” Pagano said. “From the looks of it on the way out, I knew we were going to have a tailwind. I was hurting. We all were. But it got me thinking, ‘Hey, I don’t have to settle for second or third.’ I’m still in this. I decided to give it one last push.”
Pagano emerged as the winner from a deep field that included Allie Keiffer (Buffalo, N.Y.), who was fifth at the 2017 New York City Marathon, and Emma Bates (Boise, Idaho), who was the 2014 NCAA 10,000-meter champion while competing for Boise State. Kieffer placed fourth (15:56), and Bates was sixth (16:09).
“I’ve had this race on my mind the last couple years and didn’t work out with my schedule,” Pagano said. “I thought this was a perfect year to come and get ready for the next couple races. I was really excited it was able to work out.”
In the masters (over 40) division, Jen Rhines repeated with a time of 16:44. The 43-year-old from San Diego, Calif., was half a minute faster than she was in winning the 2017 masters race.
“It’s really fun for me to come back to Upstate New York,” said Rhines, who was raised outside Syracuse, N.Y. “I grew up watching eight-time winner Lynn Jennings run at the Freihofer’s. I had run it a few times earlier in my career and then didn’t come back until last year. It feels like coming home. I’m really pleased with how the race went.”
Other notable masters finishers include: Elva Dryer, the 1997 Freihofer’s overall champion, who was sixth (19:42); and Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the marathon and longtime Freihofer’s participant, who was seventh (19:52).
“We knew it was going to be an exciting race this year,” said Patrick Lynskey, the event’s co-director. “For us to have four women under 16 minutes is pretty incredible. Jen Rhines ran a great race; she was even faster than last year. And having Kelsey Chmiel, a local runner finishing in the top 10, is amazing!
“Overall, we had more than 3,500 women come out and participate in a healthy lifestyle event in the city of Albany. It was a memorable way to cap off our 40th anniversary year, and we’re looking forward to our 41st!”
Results: 40th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K
1 Sarah Pagano (Brighton, Mass.) 15:48 ($10,000)
2 Steph Bruce (Flagstaff, Ariz.) 15:53 ($5,000)
3 Diane Nukuri (Flagstaff, Ariz.) 15:56 ($3,000)
4 Allie Kieffer (Buffalo, N.Y.) 15:56 ($2,000)
5 Jessica Tonn (Concord, Mass.) 16:04 ($1,000)
6 Emma Bates (Boise, Idaho) 16:09 ($750)
7 Lindsay Flanagan (Louisville, Colo.) 16:28 ($500)
8 Kaitlin Goodman (Providence, R.I.) 16:34 ($300)
9 Jen Rhines (San Diego, Calif.) 16:44 ($250)
10 Kelsey Chmiel (Greenfield Center, N.Y.) 16:45 (High school)
11 Kristin Heckert (Bolinbrook, N.J.) 16:46 ($200)
12 Maegan Krifchin (Bellmore, N.Y.) 17:02
13 Hannah Reinhardt (Albany, N.Y.) 17:35
14 Rose Mascoli (Conshohocken, Pa.) 17:35
15 Julia Zachgo (Rexford, N.Y.) 17:47
16 Diane Ryan (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) 17:50
17 Jennifer Mortimer (Bedford, N.H.) 18:04
18 Nicole Soblosky (Albany, N.Y.) 18:10
19 Christine Myers (Altamont, N.Y.) 18:14
20 Cassandra Henkiel (Austin, Texas) 18:26
Masters (Over 40)
1 Jen Rhines (San Diego, Calif.) 16:44 ($750)
2 Cassandra Henkiel (Austin, Texas) 18:26 ($500)
3 Christy Peterson (North Wales, Pa.) 18:27 ($350)
4 Mary Pardi (Falmouth, Maine) 18:52 ($200)
5 Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) 18:55 ($100)
Elaina Tabb of Watertown, Mass. grabbed the lead in the final kilometer and then held off her nearest challenger to capture the 41st Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K with a time of 16 minutes, 3 seconds.
The 27-year-old paced a field of 3,445 participants on a picturesque Saturday morning in downtown Albany, N.Y. With the victory, Tabb earned a $10,000 prize in her first time competing in the prestigious annual women’s road race.
“It was awesome,” said Tabb, of the Boston Athletic Association’s High Performance Team. “I had such a great weekend. Just seeing the city come out for this race was really fun, exciting and brought a lot of good energy.”
Tabb finished three seconds ahead of Diane Nukuri, a three-time Olympian who placed third here in 2018. Maddie Van Beek, a 27-year-old from Fargo, N.D., was third in 16:09.
Nukuri, 34, a dual citizen of the United States and Burundi who trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Tabb had twice traded the lead on the course that begins near West Capitol Park.
Jennifer Rhines, 44, a three-time Olympian from Liverpool, N.Y., was the masters division (over 40) winner for the third straight year, finishing in 17:22. She was followed by Melody Fairchild (18:00), the event’s 2015 masters champion, and Cassandra Henkiel (18:30).
“I enjoyed trying to see if I could run off the tail end of the elite ladies, but I knew it would be a little risky,” said Rhines, who represented the U.S. in Sydney in 2000 (10,000 meters), Athens in 2004 (marathon) and Beijing in 2008 (5,000 meters) and was competing in her sixth Freihofer’s. “I really tried to stay close to them for a kilometer and stay steady, keep track of the splits and be locked in. I had a couple of young, super talented high school girls to run with out there, too.”
Among the talented teenagers was 17-year-old Kelsey Chmiel, who attends Saratoga Springs High School, just 30 minutes north of Albany. She placed fifth, finishing in 16:33, while running with an elite-athlete bib number (No. 8) for the first time.
Chmiel, who led Team USA’s junior team to the 4K title at this year’s Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge and will run cross country and track at North Carolina State this fall, also had run a leg of the 4×800 relay with her high school team in a state qualifier the night before.
“Today was a good day to try and go out and run hard,” noted Chmiel. “I went out fast, and in the middle of the race I just tried to keep people in sight.”
The race was tight from the moment the field took off from the Washington Avenue starting line. During the first kilometer, a mostly uphill stretch, the elite runners formed a tight pack and kept a conservative pace, finishing the first mile in 5:17. Only after they entered Washington Park, between the first- and second-mile marks, did Tabb and Nukuri begin to separate, with Tabb ahead by a few strides.
Around the two-mile post, Nukuri made a move on a downhill stretch and surged ahead. Nukuri, who recently competed in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on May 5, held her lead as the pack exited the park. However, on the final downhill, Tabb slid into the lead. She held on and crossed the finish line to the applause of hundreds of spectators gathered adjacent to the New York State Capitol Building.
“I think my strategy was to keep it cool in that first mile because I could see that taking a lot of you later in the race,” Tabb said. “I figured stay cool first mile, start pushing second mile. That third mile was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it was good.”
Results: 41st Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K
1 Elaina Tabb (Watertown, Mass.) 16:03 ($10,000)
2 Diane Nukuri (Flagstaff, Ariz.) 16:06 ($5,000)
3 Maddie Van Beek (Fargo, N.D.) 16:09 ($3,000)
4 Katie Newton (Belmont, Mass.) 16:24 ($2,000)
5 Kelsey Chmiel (Greenfield Center, N.Y.) 16:33 (high school)
6 Kaylee Flanagan (Louisville, Colo.) 16:34 ($1,000)
7 Hannah Reinhardt (Clarence, N.Y.) 16:39 (college)
8 Meghan Peyton (Saint Paul, Minn.) 16:34 ($750)
9 Lindsey Scherf (High Falls, N.Y.) 17:05 ($500)
10 Ella Kurto (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) 17:15 (high school)
11 Jennifer Rhines (San Deigo, Calif.) 17:22 ($300)
12 McKinley Wheeler (Greenfield Center, N.Y.) 17:59 (high school)
13 Melody Fairchild (Lyons, Colo.) 18:00 ($250)
14 Karen Bertasso (Albany, N.Y.) 18:06 ($200)
15 Dana Bush (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) 18:16
16 Cassandra Henkiel (Austin, Texas) 18:30
17 Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) 18:30
18 Christy Peterson (North Wales, Pa.) 18:33
19 Catherine Mongan (Gansevoort, N.Y.) 18:44
20 Erin Lopez (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) 18:48
Masters (Over 40)
1 Jen Rhines (San Diego, Calif.) 17:12 ($750)
2 Melody Fairchild (Lyons, Colo.) 18:00 ($500)
3 Cassandra Henkiel (Austin, Texas) 18:30 ($350)
4 Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) 18:30 ($200)
5 Christy Peterson (North Wales, Pa.) 18:33 ($100)