Freihofer’s Run for Women Race History
Since its inception in 1979, the Freihofer’s Run for Women has mirrored the evolution of women’s distance running in the USA. From an outstanding 502 runners in that inaugural event, the Freihofer’s race has continued to blossom and now, 30+ years later, the event consistently sees close to 5,000 women take part each year.
In the first eleven years of the event, the Freihofer’s Run for Women 10kms was also designated the US national championship, a distinction which later went to the 5kms. In consequence, each year is characterized by thrilling competition and outstanding performances from some of the world’s finest road racers. International competition has also played a major role in the Freihofer’s Run for Women, and athletes have arrived from Kenya, Ethiopia, Australia, Russia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Ireland, Brazil and Canada.
Through their generous support, the Freihofer’s Baking Company has become synonymous with women’s distance running, and their on-going commitment has played no small part in stimulating the sport throughout the United States. Ten years of promoting the national women’s 10kms road race championship contributed enormously to an event of that distance being added to the Olympic Games program.
The Inaugural Year
For the first two years of its existence, the race was titled the Freihofer’s Run for Life. Designated the national women’s 10kms road race championship by the, now defunct, Amateur Athletic Union, the race was won by Karin Von Burg, a Middlebury College junior, in a time of 34.26.
“My goal was to run under 36 minutes,” she commented after the race.
A 5.22 opening mile, however, soon prised a 100 yard lead over Jane Welzel of Amherst, MA, an advantage that she extended to 24 seconds at the tape.
The accompanying 5kms went to Martha Swatt from Johnstown, who clocked 17.30, one minute and fifteen seconds faster than her closest competitor.
Two hundred and forty two women contested the 10kms, with over 260 in the 5kms. Appropriately, the over-40 title went to Nina Kuscik, one of the pioneers of US women’s distance running.
10kms: 1 Karin Von Berg Ithaca, NY 34.26. 2 Jane Welzel Amherst, MA 34.50. 3 Elenor Mendoza Cambridge, MA 34.59. 4 Marilyn Taylor Sunnyvale, CA 35.35. 6 Pat Robinson Brighton, MA 36.25. 7 Sue Hay Schenectady, NY 36.28. 8 Debbie Grain Williamsville, NY 36.43. 9 Marjorie Bassett Grad Island, NY 37.17. 10 Diana Meyers Colonie, NY 37.17.
5KMS: 1 Martha Swatt Johnstown, NY 17.30. 2 Rachel Stephenson Burnt Hills, NY 18.45. 3 Sheila Burns Syracuse, NY 18.55. 4 Janet Rutowski Glenmont, NY 19.48. 5 Debbie Buttiskoni Loudonville, NY 19.55. 6 Laura Crainn Waterville, NY 19.55. 7 Erica Jensen Nassau, NY 20.04. 8 Susan Beeba Ballston Lake, NY 20.06. 9 Carol Phillipi Loudonville, NY 20.08. 10 Sue Hedenberg Schenectady, NY 20.17.
Dana Slater, a Poughkeepsie native living in New York City, shattered Karin Von Berg’s winning time of twelve months previously by loping to a 33.26 victory. As impressive as Slater’s victory, however, was the depth of the 10kms field. Boasting Lisa and Lesley Welch, Judi St Hillaire, Kathy McIntyre, Nancy Conz, Ellen Hart and Marty Cooksey, the 1980 Freihofer’s field was among the most competitive ever assembled in the USA.
Slater was dominant, though, biding her time through the first two miles as Hart set the pace, and then forging ahead to a five second victory. Martha Swatt repeated as winner of the 5kms although, this year, her margin was narrowed to 47 seconds.
10KMS: 1 Dana Slater New York, NY 33.26. 2 Judi St Hillaire Lyndon, VT 33.31. 3 Ellen Hart Albuquerque, NM 33.40. 4 Karen Bridges New York, NY 33.41. 5 Nancy Conz Easthampton, MA 34.25. 6 Patricia Weygandt 34.32. 7 Lesley Welch Peabody, MA 34.35. 8 Kathy McIntyre New York, NY 34.41. 9 Lisa Welch Peabody, MA 34.57. 10 Ann Gladue 35.04.
5KMS: 1 Martha Swatt Johnstown, NY 17.35. 2 Leslie Warren Delmar, NY 18.22. 3 Gail Saunders 18.38. 4 Judy Parker Delmar, NY 18.49. 5 Tricia Dirolf Colonie, NY 19.06. 6 Missy Iaturo 19.11. 7 Michelle Whinnery Colonie, NY 19.15. 8 Jenni Hodgson 19.36. 9 Carrie Paige 19.52. 10 Kathy Sikule 19.59.
Although Nancy Conz ran 32 seconds slower than her 34.25 from last year (fifth position), in unseasonably hot weather it was sufficient to afford her a winning margin of over one and a half minutes. Re-named the Freihofer’s Run for Women, the 10kms attracted 258 entrants. After a 5.20 opening mile, however, none of them were swift enough to remain close to the 23 year-old Conz.
“Sometimes I feel that if I get out all by myeslf, that takes some of the pressure off, “she observed. “It seemed hard all the way. When you’re tired, it helps if there’s no one around to catch you.”
Closest to Nancy was Jane Welzel, the second placed finisher from 1979. Although she ran a 5.30 first mile, she was unable to close the gap and was forced to settle for second place once again, this time in an isolated 36.36.
Diana Richburg, one of the USA’s emerging track stars, finished ahead of 766 other women in the 5kms with a sedate 18.50.
10KMS: 1 Nancy Conz Easthampton, MA 34.57. 2 Jane Welzel Plaistow, NH 36.36. 3 Elenor Mendoza Cambridge, MA 37.18. 4 Susan Baxter Seymour, CT 37.46. 5 Debbie Mueller Bellingham, MA 37.55. 6 Marcia Dowling Dover, NH 38.28. 7 Lainey Taylor Brookline, MA 38.34. 8 Sarah Rankin Newburyport, MA 38.36. 9 Diana Meyers Colonie, NY 38.49. 10 Mary Rybinski Albany, NY 39.15.
Teams: 1 Fleet Feet 1:58.30. 2 Boston Athletic Association 1:58.39. 3 Greater Boston Track Club 2:01.06.
40-44: 1 Waltraud Mack Poughkeepsie, NY 46.48. 2 Rita Weatherbee Wilbraham, MA 46.53. 3 Florence Brett Pittsfield, MA 47.01.
45-49: 1 Phyllis Heaton Dorsett, VT 44.39. 2 Anny Stockman Rensselaer, NY 49.14.
50-54: 1 Ruth Webber 44.21. 2 Connie Billis 54.23.
55-59: 1 Janet Grenda Stoneridge, NY 47.33.
5KMS: 1 Diana Richburg Lansingburgh, NY 18.50. 2 Monika Oesterlin Albany, NY 19.00. 3 Gail Saunders Boston, MA 19.29. 4 Tricia Dirolf Colonie, NY 19.50. 5 Lisa Tyler Johnstown, NY 20.03. 6 Lisa Miller Niskayuna, NY 20.05. 7 Erica Jensen East Greenbush, Ny 20.09. 8 Lynn Kozubal Schenectady, NY 20.12. 9 Colleen Mason Niskayuna, NY 20.15. 10 Stacy Whatley 20.31.
In weather starkly contrasting that of 1981, Jacqueline Gareau of Canada became the first non-US competitor to win the Freihofer’s Run for Women. While Gareau was the overall victor, however, the AAU championship title – confined to US citizens – went to second placed finisher, Kathy Boyle of New Lebanon.
A stiff headwind on the outward journey restricted Gareau to a 17.58 three mile split. But, having passed the turn-around with a lead of over 60 seconds and, thereafter, with the wind at her back, she ran to five miles barely outside five minute pace and crossed the line with one minute and 46 seconds in hand.
Commented Boyle: “She just took off at the start. I didn’t even try to sty with her.”
Diana Richburg captured the 5kms for the second year in succession, confirming her status as one of the top high school competitors in the country.
10KMS: 1 Jacqueline Gareau Canada 34.50. 2 Kathy Boyle New Lebanon, NY 36.36. 3 Ellen Weglarz-Mindel Ballston Lake, NY 36.52. 4 Diana Meyers Colonie, NY 37.21. 5 Carol O’Connor Amherst, MA 37.24. 6 Gigi Kessler Syracuse, NY 37.55. 7 S Marcenko Canada 37.58. 8 N Krowelski 38.11. 9 Elizabeth Mastin Liverpool, NY 38.48. 10 Janine Schilly Central Square, NY 39.43.
Teams: 1 Fleet Feet (Boyle, Welgarz-Mindel, Meyers) 1:50.49.
40 and over: 1 Anny Stockman Rensslaer, NY 42.48. 2 Sally Rusby 43.20.
5KMS: 1 Diana Richburg Lansingburgh, NY 18.30. 2 Inge Stockman Rensslaer, NY 19.05. 3 Laura LaMena Latham, NY 19.07. 4 Monika Oesterlin East Greenbush, NY 19.19. 5 Colleen Mason Niskayuna, NY 19.26. 6 Lisa Vaill Pine Plains, NY 19.33. 7 Sandra Swartz Latham, NY 19.39. 8 Teresa Vaill Pine Plains, NY 19.42. 9 Erica Jensen East Greenbush, NY 19.47. 10 Joann Burrell 19.52.
Ireland’s Regina Joyce came face to face with adversity and overcame it in style. While leading the race, she was struck by a car. Thankfully, she was uninjured and powered the rest of the way around the 10K course to inflict a seven second defeat on Judi St Hilaire. Their respective times were 33:35 and 33:42. Over 500 women completed the 10K course in wet and windy conditons. (Note: This was taken from the Short History. Full results to come).
The finest field in the history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women was enticed by $20,000 in prize money and greeted by weather conditions more suited to December than April. Snow and wind buffeted the course but did nothing to prevent Betty Springs from destroying Dana Slater’s 1980 course record.
Leading the pack through opening miles of 5.29 and 10.49 in company with Judi St Hillaire, Springs reached half-way in 16.47 and, one mile later, opened a gap which she was to maintain to the finish line. Her time of 32.50 was a course record by 36 seconds. In a thrilling sprint for second place, Lisa Larsen out-kicked Nancy Rooks, while St Hillaire faded to fourth.
A slightly modified course brought the start and finish to Madison Avenue near the New York State Museum. Denise Herman from Saratoga Springs was the first of 766 finishers in the 5kms with a time of 18.06.
10KMS: 1 Betty Springs Raleigh, NC 32.50 (CR). 2 Lisa Larsen Ann Arbor, MI 32.55. 3 Nancy Rooks Canada 32.58. 4 Judi St Hillaire Brighton, MA 33.12. 5 Martha White Somerville, MA 33.31. 6 Ann Marie Malone Canada 33.36. 7 Suzanne Girard Washington, DC 33.38. 8 Beth Farmer Gainsville, FL 33.39. 9 Sue French Canada 33.43. 10 Lisa Welch North Reading, MA 33.43.
40 and over: 1 Nancy Peterson 39.38. 2 Andrea Hatch 40.02.
50 and over: 1 Margarete Deckert 41.46. 2 Anny Stockman 42.34. 3 Alicia Moore 42.43.
5KMS: 1 Denise Herman Saratoga Springs, NY 18.06. 2 Lisa Vaill Pine Plains, NY 18.20. 3 Noreen White Binghamton, NY 18.51. 4 Elizabeth Lepkowski Owego, NY 19.10. 5 Christina Smith Schenectady, NY 19.16. 6 Wendy North Linden, NY 19.20. 7 Pattie Ford Manilus, NY 19.21. 8 Jill Deifs Loudonville, NY 19.34. 9 Susan Allen Waterville, NY 19.39. 10 Betsy North Schenectady, NY 19.41.
40-44: 1 Nancy Delain 22.58. 2 Valerie Armeson 22.03. 3 Elizabeth Pessetto 23.10.
The race was moved from its customary date in April to May 16th in order to avoid the unsettled Spring weather of previous years. Betty Springs, the defending champion, and Francie Larrieu-Smith responded by producing the closest finish in Freihofer’s history. Indeed, as they raced toward the finish line both athletes were so close that they were given the same time, a course record of 32.14, and a tie was declared. The first and second place prize money was combined and divided, affording Springs and Larrieu-Smith $4500 each.
Inevitably the decision provoked some controversy: “I’d like to be able to pick a winner,” commented Barry Brown, a member of the five man panel of judges, and one of America’s leading over-40 runners. “But under the circumstances we just couldn’t. And rather than just arbitrarily deciding on one or the other, in a race as important as this we had to go with the tie.”
The only previous occasion that so close a finish had occurred in a women’s road race had also involved Springs. In that event, the inaugural IAAF World 10kms Road Race Championship, she had raced to the line with Wendy Sly of Great Britain, but had been awarded the silver medal by the judges.
Behind Springs and Larrieu-Smith, Lynn Jennings and Lesley Welch also surpassed the old course record, making this the fastest Freihofer’s so far.
Seventeen year-old Patty Nelson won the 5kms in 17.39, relegating last year’s winner, Denise Herman, to second position.
10KMS: 1 Betty Springs Raleigh, NC and Francie Larrieu-Smith Denton, TX 32.14 (CR). 3 Lynn Jennings Durham, NH 32.26. 4 Lesley Welch Boston, MA 32.40. 5 Suzanne Girard Washington, DC 33.00. 6 Jan Merrill New London, CT 33.06. 7 Janis Klecker Hopkins, MN 33.18. 8 Gail Kingma Seattle, WA 33.32. 9 Marty Cooksey St Louis, MO 33.35. 10 Diane Bussa East Lansing, MI 33.36.
40-44: 1 Priscilla Welch Great Britain 33.48. 2 Gabrielle Andersen-Scheiss Sun Valley, ID 34.49. 3 Iris Black Spring Valley, OH 36.36. 4 Maddy Harmeling Merrick, NY 36.38. 5 Cindy Dalrymple Arlington, VA 37.06.
5KMS: 1 Patty Nelson Richmond Hill, NY 17.39. 2 Denise Herman Saratoga Springs, NY 17.53. 3 Iris Black Spring Valley, OH 18.32. 4 Chris Sperry Albany, NY 18.42. 5 Judy Anker Tarrytown, NY 18.44. 6 Janine Cartwright Schenectady, NY 18.46. 7 Gina DiMaggio Albany, NY 18.48. 8 Tessa Simmons Easthampton, MA 18.59. 9 Beth Schmidt Williamstown, MA 19.03. 10 Maureen McLeod Albany, NY 19.04.
After the previous year’s dead heat, it appeared that Betty Springs was going to allow no margin for error in this year’s Freihofer’s race. After a first mile of 5.11, she charged into a lead which she extended, mile by mile, all the way to the tape. Although she had been laid low through illness in the months before the race, Springs’ time of 32.13 – a course record by one second – was simply outstanding in the 80 degree heat and oppressive humidity.
“I had done mile repeats earlier this week,” commented Springs, “and I had four great miles. That gave me the confidence to know that if I had to go at a certain time in the race, I could do it.”
The race for the minor placings contrasted Springs’ runaway victory. Marty Cooksey stole in for second position in 32.32, just five seconds up on Mary Knisely who, in turn, nipped Patti Sue Plumer for third right on the line.
In the 5kms, Marisa Sutera of Saratoga Springs emulated Betty Springs by claiming a comfortable victory, and in a course record time of 17.22.
For the first year a wheelchair race was added to the day’s program. Starting ten minutes ahead of the 10kms championship, victory went to Brenda Zajac of Tampa, Florida who rolled an impressive 34.20.
10KMS: 1 Betty Springs Raleigh, NC 32.13 (CR). 2 Marty Cooksey St Louis, MO 32.32. 3 Mary Knisely Allen, TX 32.37. 4 Patti Sue Plumer Los Angeles, CA 32.39. 5 Brenda Webb Austin, TX 32.58. 6 Lesley Welch Newton, MA 33.12. 7 Lynn Nelson Phoenix, AZ 33.27. 8 Rebecca Kirsininkas Wheaton, IL 33.39. 9 Leslie Seymour Minneapolis, MN 33.47. 10 Maureen Custy Denver, CO 33.50.
Teams: 1 Club Sota 104:44. 2 Atalanta 107:22. 3 Houston Harriers 109:14.
40 and over: 1 Gabrielle Andersen Sun Valley, ID 35.31. 2 Angella Hearn New York, NY 36.15. 3 Shirley Matson Solana Beach, CA 36.41. 4 Maddy Harmeling Merrick, NY 37.17. 5 Bobbi Rothman Coconut Creek, FL 37.41.
50 and over: 1 Anny Stockman Rensslaer, NY 40.49. 2 Toshiko D’Elia Ridgewood, NJ 42.20. 3 Margarete Deckert Lagrangeville, NY 44.43.
Wheelchairs: 1 Brenda Zajac Tampa, FL 34.20. 2 Stacie Norman Spring, TX 36.42. 3 Evelyn Collins West Hempstead, NY 39.38. 4 Glee Lyford Tampa, FL 40.40. 5 Karen Jacobs Tampa, FL 41.40. 6 Natalie Bacon Stanfordville, NY 42.39.
5kms: 1 Marisa Sutera Saratoga Springs, NY 17.22. 2 Denise Herman Saratoga Springs, NY 17.40. 3 Gina DiMaggio Albany, NY 18.05. 4 Lisa Vaill Pine Plains, NY 18.07. 5 Michelle Monahan Plattsburgh, NY 18.16. 6 Teresa Vaill Pine Plains, NY 18.17. 7 Vola Strock Saratoga Springs, NY 18.59. 8 Carol Edelstein Kingston, NY 19.02. 9 Susan Allen Waterville, NY 19.11. 10 Tessa Simmons Easthampton, MA 19.12.
If Betty Springs was dominant in 1986, Lynn Jennings was simply over-powering twelve months later. Having decided on Freihofer’s as her only road race of the Spring, she stormed away from the field just after the one mile mark and proceeded to win the race by a mammoth 53 seconds. Had that first mile been faster than a pedestrian 5.27, Jennings would certainly have obliterated Betty Springs’ course record of 32.13.
“I knew we were running slowly,” reflected Jennings. “I wasn’t even breathing hard. I do some of my training runs at that pace.”
While the 26 year-old New Hampshire resident sped to a convincing win, Nan Doak-Davis fought a torrid battle with Suzanne Girard-Eberle before surging away to claim second position. Girard-Eberle then also fell victim to the fast finishes of Janis Klecker and Katie Ishmael as they powered through to take third and fourth respectively.
Gabrielle Andersen and Anny Stockman took the over-40 and over-50 titles for the second consecutive year, while Denise Herman captured the 5kms title she had previously won in 1984.
10KMS: 1 Lynn Jennings New Market, NH 32.19. 2 Nan Doak-Davis Iowa City, IA 33.12. 3 Janis Klecker Hopkins, MN 33.27. 4 Katie Ishmael Madison, WI 33.28. 5 Suzanne Girard-Eberle Washington, DC 33.32. 6 Judy Chamberlain Golden, CO 33.36. 7 Laurie King Rosemount, MN 33.52. 8 Cindi Girard-Klein Richmond Hill, NY 33.55. 9 Kathleen Brandell-Champagne Plattsburgh, NY 33.56. 10 Janice Ettle St Cloud, MN 33.58.
Teams: 1 Club Sota 105:30. 2 Atalanta 105:36. 3 Syracuse Chargers 114:01.
40 and over: 1 Gabrielle Andersen Sun Valley, ID 34.58. 2 Jane Hutchison Webb City, MO 35.55. 3 Susan Henderson Lake Oswego, NY 36.13. 4 Angella Hearn New York, NY 36.20. 5 Juana Stavalone San Jose, CA 36.32.
50 and over: 1 Anny Stockman Rensslaer, NY 41.22. 2 Toshiko D’Elia Ridegwood, NJ 42.10. 3 Margarete Deckert Lagrangeville, NY 42.59. 4 Mae Horns Edina, MN 43.20. 5 Bev Goodwin Canton, NY 44.24.
Wheelchairs: 1 Candace Cable-Brooks San Luis Obispo, CA 31.41. 2 Brenda Zajac Tampa, FL 34.27. 3 Elizabeth Orazo Brooklyn, NY 36.31. 4 Evelyn Collins West Hempstead, NY 41.13. 5 Natalie Bacon Stanfordville, NY 42.07.
5KMS: 1 Denise Herman Saratoga Springs, NY 17.16. 2 Gina DiMaggio Albany, NY 17.39. 3 Marisa Sutera Schenectady, NY 18.03. 4 Kathy Jones Albany, NY 18.22. 5 Kathleen Boyle East Nassau, NY 18.25. 6 Pamela Crandall Albany, NY 18.29. 7 Pamela Allie-Morrill Virginia Beach, VA 18.31. 8 Laurel Sutliff Albany, NY 18.42. 9 Gayle Giambruno Plattsburgh, NY 18.44. 10 Ann Michalek Albany, NY 18.46.
Once again, Lynn Jennings proved herself to be the supreme road warrior, successfully defending her Freihofer’s 10kms title despite an epic battle with Patty Murray from Park Ridge Illinois. An opening mile of 5.11, under temperatures in the 80s, hastily identified that the ultimate victor would emerge from a trio comprising Jennings, Murray and Lisa Weidenbach. Through half way in 16.26, this group maintained close formation until, shortly thereafter, Murray began to apply pressure and Weidenbach fell from the fray.
And from that point on, it was Murray who assumed the role of aggressor, forcing the pace incessantly in a valiant bid to drop the reigning champion.
“I haven’t seen someone take the race by the throat like that for a long time,” asserted Jennings later.
With the finish adjacent to Empire State Plaza coming into view, however, Jennings gathered her resources and unleashed a 300 yard kick for home which, with devastating finality, consigned Murray to second position. At the finish line the clocked displayed 32.38 for Jennings, with Murray following just five seconds later. Fittingly, so hard fought a battle earned both athletes ample reward; Lynn received $5000 and a Honda CRX HF, while Patty claimed a cool $4000.
In the over-40 event, Laurie Binder took first place honors, despite the presence to her two greatest rivals, Gabrielle Andersen and Barbara Filutze, and despite having contested the Olympic Trials marathon four weeks previously. Her winning time of 35.32 placed her 14th overall and earned her prize money in the amount of $1500.
For the second consecutive year, the wheelchair event was won by the omnipotent Candace Cable-Brooks in 30.27, while the 5kms went to last year’s sixth placer, Pamela Crandall from Hanover, New Hampshire, in 17.16.
A new event on the program at this year’s Freihofer’s Run for Women was the Freihofer’s Run for Kids. Staged within the confines of the Empire State Plaza, it attracted 300 children between the ages of two and 12, all of whom ran distances ranging from 50 meters to one mile.
10KMS: Lynn Jennings New Market, NH 32.38. 2 Patty Murray Park Ridge, IL 32.43. 3 Lisa Weidenbach Issaquah, WA 33.35. 4 Eleanor Simonsick Baltimore, MD 34.07. 5 Liz Miller Peru, VT 34.17. 6 Julie Isphording Cincinnatti, OH 34.21. 7 Cyndie Welte Lorain, OH 34.29. 8 Nancy Corsaro Methuen, MA 34.40. 9 Inge Schuurmans Richmond, VA 34.46. 10 Jennifer Colgrove Conneaut Lake, PA 34.46.
40 and over: 1 Laurie Binder Oakland, CA 35.32. 2 Gabrielle Andersen Sun Valley, ID 35.52. 3 Barbara Filutze Erie, PA 36.34. 4 Angella Hearn New York, NY 36.59. 5 Christine Hearn New York, NY 37.33.
50 and over: 1 Diane Palmason Canada 39.23.
60 and over: 1 Dolores Quinn Whitesboro, NY 53.42.
Wheelchair: 1 Candace Cable-Brooks San Luis Obispo, CA 30.27.
5K: 1 Pamela Crandall Hanover, NH 17.16. 2 Pamela Allie-Morrill Averill Park, NY 17.50. 3 Denise Herman Saratoga Springs, NY 18.03. 4 Inge Aiken East Greenbush, NY 18.17. 5 Marisa Sutera-Ebbets Schenectady, NY 18.24. 6 Kathy Jones Albany, NY 18.29. 7 Beth Lebel Bristol, CT 18.46. 8 Suzanne Schaeffer Glenmont, NY 19.07. 9 Bonnie Dickson Hanover, NH 19.20. 10 Larissa Lenehan Albany, NY 19.30.
From the gun it was evident that this was a race that Judi St Hilaire had no intention of losing. Blasting through the first mile in 4.50, only Patti Sue Plumer was able to remain in contention although, in the burgeoning heat, it appeared only a matter of time before she too was forced to concede ground. That time came at the one and a half mile mark as both the speed and the heat began to tell on Plumer, and St Hilaire was left to push on alone to the finish line. But she too had a price to pay.
“I was really hurting between one and two miles,” commented Judi, “but that was where I had planned to make my break. I was trying to figure out if I was tired from the heat or from just having gone out too hard. I wasn’t sure if I could win because I knew how tough the field was.”
Into the final mile, though, there was no question as to who the ultimate victor would be as Judi added still more precious yards to her lead and flew across the finish line in 15.26, the fastest road time in history by an American woman and just six seconds shy of the world best. Plumer held on for second position in 15.42 with Nan Doak-Davis third in 15.53.
The masters’ was an exercise in even greater dominance. Heather Matthews from New Zealand added one more resounding victory in an already impressive US tour, defeating Laurie Binder by no less than 46 seconds. Matthews’ time of 16.20 placed her tenth in the open division, making hers one of the most outstanding over-40 performances ever seen at Freihofer’s.
Ann Cody-Morris from Urbana, IL continued the theme of dominance in the wheelchair division. She rolled away from some stiff competition to reach the finish line in a scintillating 27.13, hacking over three minutes from the course record and leaving second placed Sherry Ramsey from Lakewood, CO almost five minutes in arrears.
Laura Lamena, a local girl studying in Tempe, AZ, comfortably won the 10kms in 37.04, with Karen Goritski from Etna, NH second in 37.27. With the total from both races reaching 2300, this was the largest Freihofer’s Run for Women in the event’s history.
The second Freihofer’s Run for Kids, staged after the 5K and 10K races had been completed, was a particular success. Entries tripled over those of 12 months previously, as 900 children aged between two and 12 – all wearing the number “1” – raced through the Empire State Plaza.
A Community Health Walk was also added to the schedule this year, opening the Freihofer’s Run for Women program to a still wider range of the local populace. Beginning at 8.30am and lasting for two hours, 400 individuals completed as many half mile laps around the Empire State Plaza’s reflecting pool as they wished. All money raised through sponsorship was divided among 30 local charities.
5kms: 1 Judi St Hilaire Fall River, MA 15.26 (US Rec). 2 Patti Sue Plumer Stanford, CA 15.42. 3 Nan Doak-Davis Iowa City, IA 15.53. 4 Mary Knisely Dallas, TX 15.54. 5 Trina Leopold Boston, MA 15.58. 6 Chris Pfitzinger Wellesley, MA 16.02. 7 Gordon Bloch New York, NY 16.08. 8 Brenda Webb Austin, TX 16.11. 9 Paula Brunetto Ridgefield, CT 16.17. 10 Heather Matthews New Zealand 16.20.
40-49: 1 Heather Matthews New Zealand 16.20. 2 Laurie Binder Oakland, CA 17.06. 3 Gabriele Andersen Sun Valley, ID 17.14.
50-59: 1 Gina Faust Woodland, CA 18.46. 2 Zofia Turosz Hartford, CT 21.13. 3 Margarete Deckert Tallahassee, FL 21.47.
60 and over: 1 Edith Farias Salisbury, NY 25.26. 2 Betty Howard Trumansburg, NY 27.30. 3 Mally Hennig Middle Grove, NY 27.44.
Wheelchairs: 1 Ann Cody-Morris Urbana, IL 27.13 (CR). 2 Sherry Ramsey Lakewood, CO 32.09. 3 Sharon Frenette Salt Lake City, UT 34.35.
10K: 1 Laura Lamena Tempe, AZ 37.04. 2 Karen Goritski Etna, NH 37.27. 3 Mary Selleck Richmondville, NY 38.02. 4 Julie Litoff Delmar, NY 38.33. 5 Julie Mintz Spring Valley, NY 39.15. 6 Stephanie Carney Hagaman, NY 39.17. 7 Mary Ryan Troy, NY 39.22. 8 Anne Kuklinski Niskayuna, NY 39.23. 9 Nancy Egerton Guilderland, NY 39.29. 10. Lisa Mattila Stockbridge, MA 39.38.
Lynn Jennings, the Freihofer’s 10K champion of 1988 from Newmarket, NH, returned to contest the TAC USA 5K championship with just one thing on her mind: to continue the streak of success which, in previous months, had brought her a world indoor record for 5000m (15:22.64), a US indoor record for 3000m (8:40.45) and an individual gold medal in the World Cross Country Championships. With such a background, there were few who did not concur that the world 5K road best – 15:20 by Lynn Williams of Canada – was Jennings’ for the taking.
As over 1700 women charged away from the starting line, however, it was immediately evident that winning was to take precedence over record-setting. Through the first mile (5:03), Jennings, Patti Sue Plumer from California, Sabrina Dornhoefer from Minnesota and the returned from injury Leann Warren from Oregon, kept close company, with the latter assuming pace-making duties.
Commented Warren, “I was saying to myself, ‘Why isn’t anybody pushing the pace?’ I’m always one to sit and kick, but I thought I might as well take it myself. I got the lead but I just didn’t push it hard enough.”
It was only at the two mile mark (10:12) that the ultimate outcome began to unfold. As Warren steadily wound up the pace – all the time shadowed by Jennings – both Dornhoefer and Plumer began to fall adrift, the former a victim of the rapid increase in pace and the latter a victim of an asthma attack and a severe nosebleed. As the finish line came into view, therefore, only Jennings and Warren remained – the two biggest kickers in the field.
Although Warren made several increases in pace within the last quarter mile, it was only with 200m remaining that Jennings decided the issue once and for all. Displaying remarkable acceleration, she kicked past Warren and through the finish line in 15:31 with over two seconds in hand.
“It became tactical today,” explained Jennings afterward. “We were all track runners out there. I haven’t raced for a while so I knew I would just have to do what I had to do. Today that meant sit and kick.”
A late race move also decided the over-40 race. Although 45 year-old Gabriele Andersen from Idaho charged to the front from the gun, her early aggression was to weigh against her in the closing stages. Within the final quarter mile, Barbara Filutze from Pennsylvania made perfect use of the downhill sweep toward the Empire State Plaza, sweeping into the lead and through the finish line in 17:07, twelve seconds up on the gallant Andersen.
The non-championship 10K, which preceded the 5K, saw a runaway victory for Lisa Polzinetti of Willow Grove, PA. Never headed at any point in the race, Lisa cruised to a 36.24 victory, more than two minutes ahead of her closest pursuer.
The third annual Freihofer’s Run for Kids and the second annual Community Health Walk continued their remarkable popularity. The Health Walk saw 900 local citizens circle the Empire State Plaza’s reflecting pool between 8.30 am and 10.30 am raising considerable sums for the designated local charities.
The Run for Kids was even more successful. Moved, for the first year, out of the Plaza and onto Madison Avenue, it was Race Director George Regan’s intention that “the kids should experience the same thrill in crossing the finish line that the championship runners do.” So, once the 5K and 10K runners had finished with their finish line, 1500 youngsters between two and 12 took it over, racing with all the spirit and enthusiasm of their older counterparts.
A unique children’s training program administered through the local schools system was, in large part, responsible for the great success of this event and it is anticipated that the Run for Kids will become an increasingly important facet of both the Freihofer’s Run for Women program and the physical education program of Guilderland schools district.
5K: 1 Lynn Jennings NH 15:31.00 $5000. 2 Leann Warren OR 15:33.74 $3000. 3 Patti Sue Plumer CA 15:42.80 $2000. 4 Sabrina Dornhoefer MN 15:44.56 $1400. 5 Mary Knisely TX 16:00.07 $1000. 6 Kathy Kanes CA 16:02.79. 7 Jody Dunston TX 16:03.22. 8 Anne Letko NJ 16:05.42. 9 Rosalind Taylor MD 16:12.12. 10 Paula Brunetto CT 16:23.19. 11 Lisa Vaill NY 16:29.26. 12 Alice Willis NY 16:48.21. 13 Tamara Sayre NY 16:57.99. 14 Tina Meserve ME 16:58.83. 15 Lori Hewig 17:00.42. 16 Julie Foster CT 17:03.69. 17 Lori Jorgensen NY 17:04.98. 18 Barbara Filutze PA 17:06.91. 19 Alice Bulinski GA 17:18.38. 20 Gabriele Andersen ID 17:18.67.
Teams: 1 Converse-Athlete’s foot CT 50:48.8 $600. 2 Liberty AA MA 52:57.7 $300. 3 Maine ME 53:05.1 $100.
Masters (O/40): 1 Barbara Filutze PA 17:06.91 $1000. 2 Gabriele Andersen ID 17:18.67 $600. 3 Nancy Grayson SC 17:26.07. 4 Nancy Oshier NY 17:30.71 $100. 5 Angella Hearn NY 17:47.21. 6 Kathy McIntyre NY 18:09.36. 7 Christine Grenning NY 18:13.15. 8 Barbara Mathewson CT 18:17.65. 9 Neeri Bodelid NY 18:21.00. 10 Jan Vermilye NY 18:23.47.
45-49: 1 Gabriele Andersen ID 17:18.67. 2 Neeri Bodelid NY 18:21.00. 3 Susan Weisbrod NY 18:42.18.
50-54: 1 Zofia Turosz CT 20:04. 2 Jean Poodiack CT 21:46. 3 Helen Partyka MA 22:48.
55-59: 1 Annie Stockman NY 21:22. 2 Margarete Deckert FL 21:29. 3 Geri Owens NY 21:58.
60 and over: 1 Nancy Gerstenberger NY 21:55. 2 Toshiko D’Elia NJ 22:19. 3 Edith Faria NY 24:06.
10K: 1 Lisa Polzinetti PA 36:24.34. 2 Jan McKeown (O/40) CT 38:27.08. 3 Nancy Krowelski CT 38:31.60. 4 Nancy Egerton NY 38:52.41. 5 Nancy Mears NY 38:53.78. 6 Kathleen Cleary NY 39:14.22. 7 Jeryl Simpson NY 39:22.87. 8 Dede Paul NY 39:28.70. 9 Eileen Trainor NY 40:05.55. 10 Hope Wynkop NY 40:14.61.
40-49: 1 Jan McKeown CT 38:27.08. 2 Carolyn Riley NY 41:51.65. 3 Mary Rosado NY 41:53.50.
50-59: 1 Barbara Frasca CT 47:44. 2 Ann Drapeau NY 48:00. 3 Louise Klaber CT 50:36.
60 and over: 1 Dolores Quinn NY 50:55. 2 Regina Tumidajewicz NY 54:28. 3 Ellen Miller MA 55:55.
Dominance was the name of the game at the 13th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women in downtown Albany. Judi St Hilaire, 31 years old from Fall River, MA, simply ran away from the field in the five kilometer Adirondack TAC Championship event, while Nancy Egerton, also 31, from Guilderland, NY employed similar tactics in winning the 10 kilometer race earlier in the morning.
It was the five kilometers which was the featured event of the day, boasting St Hilaire and a clutch of other national class competitors from all over the USA. It was always St Hilaire, holder of the course record of 15:26 which she set here in 1989, who was the favorite, however, and from the outset it was evident that she was intent on living up to her top billing.
A first mile of 5:04 saw her with a lead of 11 seconds on a second group that included Rosalind Taylor from Maryland, Sammie Gdowski from Minnesota, Gwyn Coogan from Massachusetts, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso from Texas and a handful of other elite competitors. Even at that early stage, though, the outcome appeared clear. Passing two miles in 10:16 St Hilaire’s advantage had increased to 13 seconds and, as she wound her way through Washington Park with just the lead vehicles for company, the only remaining question was the margin of her victory.
“Anything can happen out there,” observed St Hilaire after the race. “There are no guarantees. I didn’t come in here thinking I had this race won. I just wanted to run my own race, and whatever that got me it got me.”
What St Hilaire’s race got her was a finishing time of 15:41 – 12th fastest in the world thus far this year and the fourth fastest ever on this course – victory by 15 seconds over Coogan, and a first place prize of $5000.
“The course record was in the back of my mind,” proffered St Hilaire thoughtfully, “but after the first mile, I knew I couldn’t do it. To run that fast you need someone to run aggressively beside you.” Unfortunately, St Hilaire rarely allows that circumstance to occur.
In second position Coogan, 25 years old and married to national class steeplechaser Mark Coogan, recorded a time of 15:56, while Gdowski finished third in 15:57. They received cash awards of $3000 and $2000 respectively.
The masters’ division in the five kilometer race provided a dramatic contrast to the dominance of St Hilaire. For the first two miles, Nancy Oshier, 42 years old from Rush, NY, was unaware that her closest rival, Jane Hutchison from Joplin, MO, was running immediately at her shoulder. In fact, it was only with a half mile remaining that Oshier realized she had a real race on her hands.
“Out of the park, Jane really took off coming down the hill,” explained Oshier. “Ten yards from the finish, I said to myself, ‘Do it now or you’re not going to make it.” Oshier did make it, barely, hurtling across the finish line just half a step ahead. So close was their finish that both were given the same time of 17:20, although Oshier was awarded the first place prize of $1000. Hutchison received $600 and third placed Sylvie Kimche from New York City, who finished in 18:02, received $300.
In the over 50 division, first place went to Zofia Turosz from Hartford, CT with a time of 19:35.
In the 10 kilometers, Egerton’s run from the front tactics brought her to the finish line with a 35 second advantage over 28 year old Julie Litoff from Delmar, NY. Their respective times were 38:06 and 38:41 with 32 year old Veta Weir from Williamstown, MA third in 38:51. Egerton’s Freihofer’s victory served as a significant boost in her preparations for the Ottowa Marathon which she ran one week later, on May 12th.
A total of 2049 runners – 1685 in the 5 kilometers – turned out in glorious weather to compete in this year’s Freihofer’s Run, with hundreds more taking part in the Community Health Walk and the Freihofer’s Run for Kids, both staged in and adjacent to Albany’s imposing Empire State Plaza. $17,500 in prize money was awarded.
“This was one of the best events we’ve had in the 13 year history of this event,” commented Race Director, George Regan. “The crowds along the course were wonderful, the weather was perfect, and the enthusiasm of all the participants – from Judi st Hilaire to 89 year old Ruth Rothfarb – had to be seen to be believed. I’m looking forward to next year already.”
5K: 1. Judi St Hilaire, MA, 15:41; 2. Gwyn Coogan, MA 15:56; 3. Sammie Gdowski, MN, 15:57; 4. Rosalind Taylor, MD, 16:03; 5. Kristy Johnston, OR, 16:05; 6. Alena Thomas Palmquist, GA, 16:10; 7. Sandra Glisky, Canada, 16:13; 8. Kathy Kanes, MA, 16:14; 9. Lisa Presedo, LA, 16:16; 10. Carmen Ayala- Troncoso, TX, 16:19; 11. Carole Rouillard, Canada, 16:27; 12. Mary Level-Menton, FL, 16:28; 13. Inge Schuurmans, CO, 16:30; 14. Lori Hewig, NY, 16:32; 15. Alicia Moss, MA, 16:36; 16. Brenda Steenhof, Canada, 16:50; 17. Francoise Garceau, 16:52; 18. Annmarie Marino, RI, 16:53; 19. Elspeth Turner, Scotland, 16:55; 20. Susan Faber, CT, 16:55.
Over 40: 1. Nancy Oshier, NY, 17:20; 2. Jane Hutchison, MO, 17.20; 3. Sylvie Kimche, NY, 18:02.
Over 50: 1. Zofia Turosz, CT, 19:36.
10K: 1. Nancy Egerton, NY, 38:06; 2. Julie Litoff, NY, 38:41; 3. Veta Weir, MA, 38:52; 4. Beth Herder, Dalton, MA, 39:07; 5. Natalie Blanchard, 41:10; 6. Emily Fisch, NH, 41:33; 7. Susan Rawley, NY, 41:38; 8. Debbie Beatrice, NY, 41:44; 9. Renee Mack, NY, 41:46; 10. Caitlin Rhodes, NY, 41:47.
Over 40: 1. Mary Rosado, NY, 42:01; 2. Sandy Nelson, NY, 42:53; 3. Martha Degrazja, NY, 44:44.
Over 50: 1. May Chou, NY, 46:48; 2. Marge Rajczewski, NY, 49:39; 3. Marylee Adamson, CT, 49:45.
Over 60: 1. Dolores Quinn, NY, 52:51; 2. Regina Tumidajewicz, NY, 56:37; 3. Ellen Miller, MA, 57:30.
The 14th edition of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K race in downtown Albany, NY was characterized by persistent showers and consistent aggression. The showers blanketed the New York State capital from Friday evening until the 10:15 am race time and contributed to some sizeable puddles on the course, which began and ended on Madison Avenue adjacent to the spectacular Empire State Plaza. The aggression came from a group of elite runners who had traveled from as far south as Brazil and as far east as Byelorussia to make this one of the most impressive, not to mention the most cosmopolitan fields, in the event’s history.
As the starting gun was fired sending 2060 runners on their way, it was 25 year-old Jill Hunter from Newcastle, England who forged immediately to the front and on whom a cluster of other contenders keyed through the opening mile. Among those were Wilma Van Onna from the Netherlands, Madina Biktagirova from Byelorussia, Felicidade Sena from Portugal, Lorraine Moller from New Zealand, Lesley Lehane from Chestnut Hill, MA and Carmen de Oliveira from Brazil.
A first mile in 5:06 indicated that, while the course record of 15:26 was comparatively safe, Hunter, the pre-race favorite, was not. Pushing her way through the small but weakening inclines of Washington Park, Hunter succeeded in dispensing with the attentions of Moller, Sena, Biktagirova and most of the other foremost contenders, but both Van Onna and Lehane remained stubbornly close. Ten yards adrift of this trio and seemingly fading from contention was de Oliveira, the South American record holder at 3000 meters, 5000 meters and 10,000 meters.
As the two mile mark drew ever nearer, though, the inevitable quickly began to occur. Hunter’s repeated surges took a toll on both Van Onna and Lehane, but so too did they on herself, leaving her with few defenses when de Oliveira bullied her way back to the front. At two miles (10:18) Hunter held an advantage of just three yards on de Oliveira, while Van Onna and Lehane appeared content to battle solely for the third position. De Oliveira, in contrast, had her thoughts fixed firmly on the finish line and the $5000 prize that awaited the first woman to cross it.
With two and a quarter miles gone, de Oliveira made the move that was to decide the race, gaining an immediate advantage of ten yards, a margin she increased to a full fifty by the time she hurtled across the line in time of 15:39, the fourth fastest ever on this course. Hunter was forced to produce a powerful finish of her own just to forestall the approach of Lehane and Van Onna. The Englishwoman crossed at 15:46, with Lehane sprinting into third in 15:47 and Van Onna taking fourth in 15:49.
“I was waiting until the end before I made my move,” explained the 27 year-old de Oliveira who lives in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, works as a physical education officer for the Brazilian government, and who is the mother of two children, aged four and eleven. “I ran a 10,000m in Vancouver last week (where she set the South American record) so this was another good check of my fitness.” De Oliverira will race in the 10,000m at next month’s Olympic Games in Barcelona where she will once again clash with Hunter who will be representing Great Britain.
“I felt flat today,” commented Hunter, who is the world record holder for ten miles and who, in 1991, was defeated only once on the American roads. “I tried to push it but I just couldn’t get away.” Nonetheless, a second place award of $3000 offered some consolation. Lehane received $2000 for her third place finish, with Van Onna receiving $1000. A total of $17,500 in prize money was awarded.
In the masters division, 45 year-old Barbara Filutze from Erie, PA dominated the competition, crossing the line in 32nd position overall in a time of 17:43. Filutze was awarded prize money in the amount of $1000. Second master was 46 year-old Jane Hutchison from Webb City, MO who finished in a time of 18:10. and received $500. Hutchison also placed second in 1991.
“We could not have hoped for a more exciting finish,” commented George Regan, Director of the Freihofer’s Run for Women program. “The quality of the field was exceptional, the competition was wonderful and, despite the rain, the crowds were outstanding. It was a great day for Albany.”
5K: 1. Carmen de Oliveira, Brazil, 15:39; 2. Jill Hunter, Great Britain, 15:46; 3. Lesley Lehane, MA, 15:47; 4. Wilma Van Onna, Netherlands, 15:48; 5. Lorraine Moller, New Zealand, 15:54; 6. Lori Hewig, NY, 16:01; 7. Felicidade Sena, Portugal,16:03; 8. Carmen Troncoso, TX, 16:08; 9. Medina Biktagirova, Byelorussia, 16:10; 10. Gordon Bloch, NYC, 16:14; 11. Kelly McNee, NJ, 16:20; 12. Janice Ettle, MN, 16:23; 13. Lisa Brady, MA, 16:25; 14. Laura Lamena-Coll, AZ, 16:25; 15. Lorie Moreno-Roch, CO, 16:31; 16. Misty Demko, 24, PA, 16:41; 17. Jennifer Martin, PA, 16:44; 18. Gina Sperry, VT, 16:45; 19. Tina Merserve, NY, 16:46; 20. Anne Forbes, NY, 16:51.
Over 40: 1 Barbara Filutze, PA, 17:43; 2 Jane Hutchison, MO, 18:10.
From the outset, Lynn Jennings placed her mark on this field of elite women. Once the gun had sounded, Jennings surged to the forefront defying any of her competitors to match strides with her. Elaine Van Blunk, emerging star Vicki Mitchell, Carmen Troncoso, Laura Lamena-Coll, Lesley Lehane and a bunch of other stalwarts attempted to stay within striking distance of Jennings through the first mile, but a split of 4:56 in the gently undulating Washington Park essentialy put paid to their aspirations.
The torrid early pace did take a toll on the leader, though, as the ups and downs began to dull the spring in her step. At two miles the clock displayed a time of 10:10, slower but still sufficient to afford Jennings a considerable margin of safety over her closest pursuer, Van Blunk.
“I knew I would have to hammer the last mile if I was going to get the course record (15:27),” commented Jennings afterward.
Despite hammering has hard as she could, the course mark escaped her as she flew across the finish line to the cheers of thousands of spectators in a time of 15:35, good for a first prize of $5000.
“If you’re not racing someone, you can never push it as hard,” explained the winner. “this was an absolutely perfect day for running; it was cool and there was no wind. But it’s much more difficult to race really hard when you’re by yourself. Still, this race tells me that I’m right on target for the national championships next week.”
Van Blunk cruised through the latter part of the race in isolation, reaching the finish 17 seconds behind Jennings in 15:52, but still a comfortable 19 up on Vicki Mitchell, one of the competitors to attended the national championship as part of USATF Association Athlete Development Program. Mitchell recorded a time of 16:13 and took home with her a cool $2000.
Among the masters, Carol McLatchie from Houston, TX was nothing but dominant. Despite a field that included Barbara Filutze and the recently turned 40 Cindy Bremser, McLatchie scorched to a 16:51 victory, the second fastest time ever by a US woman over 40, sufficient to give her a 23 second advantage over Filutze. Bremser claimed the third spot with a time of 17:36.
5K: 1 Lynn Jennings, NH 15:35. 2 Elaine Van Blunk, NJ, 15:52. 3 Vicki Mitchell, NY 16:13; 4 Carmen Troncoso, TX, 16;15; 5 Laura Lamena-Coll, AZ, 16:17; 6 Lesley Lehane, MA, 16:20; 7 Lisa Vaill, NY, 16:25; 8 Monique Ecker, VA, 16:27; 9 Cindi Girard, NJ, 16:30; 10 Misti Demko, PA, 16:31; 11 Ann Boyd, MI, 16:33; 12 Juanita Wilson, TX, 16:34; 13 Debbie Kilpatrick-Morris, OH, 16:35; 14 Lisa Senatour, M 16:36; 15 Deb Tourneden, KS, 16:37.
Over 40: 1 Carol McLatchie, TX, 16:51; 2 Barbara Filutze, PA, 17:14; 3 Cindy Bremser, WI, 17:36.
In perfect weather, a field of super-fast women gathered in Albany, NY on the morning of June 4th for the 16th running of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K (incorporating the USATF 5K championship). None, though, were quite fast enough to match strides with Lynn Jennings, the consummate road warrior. Jennings, in fact, was more concerned with capturing the course record (15:27 by Judi St Hilaire in 1989) and a bonus of $5000 than she was with her competition, despite the presence of some intimidating talent.
Track star Gina Procaccio hustled on Jennings’ heels through a first mile in 5:02, but thereafter there was no question as to where the first place prize of $7000 would go. On a small incline just after 1 1/4 miles, Jennings maintained her tempo while Procaccio weakened. At once, a gap of five meters appeared and the damage was done. A two mile split of 10:11 gave the three-time World Cross Country champion a nine second margin, assuring her of the race but indicating that the course record was safe, for this year at least.
“This has almost become like the Holy Grail for me,” she commented, after breasting the tape in 15:37. “It felt effortless through the first mile, but I seem destined never to break this record. I’ll just have to come back again next year and snare it.”
While Jennings cruised home alone, the battle for second place between Procaccio and Elaine Van Blunk was enthralling. Van Blunk reeled in Procaccio at 2 1/2 miles, but the latter had no intention of becoming easy prey. She immediately fought her way back into second position and the two engaged in a nip and tuck battle all the way to the line. Procaccio’s track speed proved decisive, as she kicked home in 15:52 to Van Blunk’s 15:55 claiming $5000 and $3500 respectively.
The masters’ competition had been generally conceded to defending champion, Carol McLatchie. But she strained her back in the shower the day before the race and was unable to start. That left the way open for new-40 year old, Joanne Scianna to take the race, albeit by just 3 seconds from Rebecca Stockdale-Woolley, 17:32 to 17:35.
“I’m just thrilled,” beamed Scianna. “I didn’t know I’d won until somebody told me in the finish chute.”
Just as thrilling was the $1000 in prize money she took home with her.
Over 2200 women charged through the streets of the New York State capital for this annual runfest, prompting race director George Regan to comment, “This was probably the best one yet… until next year.”
5K: 1 Lynn Jennings, NH, 15:37. 2 Gina Procaccio, VA, 15:52. 3 Elaine Van Blunk, NJ, 15:59; 4 Laura Lamena-Coll, OR, 15:59; 5 Lucy Nusrala, OR, 15:59; 6 Patty Wiegand, NY, 15:59; 7 Carmen Troncoso, TX, 16:01; 8 Misti Demko, PA, 16:04; 9 Vicky Mitchell, NY, 16:04; 10 Sammie Gdowski, NE, 16:07; 11 Melody O’Reilly, PA, 16:13; 12 Kellie Archuletta, NV, 16:16; 13 Joan Nesbit, NC, 16:17; 14 Laura Mason, PA, 16:19; 15 Regina Joyce, WA, 16:22; 16 Patti Sue Plumer, CA, 16:23; 17 Laura Craven, OH, 16:26; 18 Lisa Senatore, MA, 16:26; 19 Michele Buresh, MT, 16:30; 20 Monique Ecker, VA, 16:30.
Over 40: 1 Joanne Scianna, MA, 17:32; 2 Rebecca Stockdale-Woolley, CT, 17:35.
When Lynn Jennings, Olympic bronze medalist and three-time World Cross Country champion, steps up to the line, intensity is the only name of the game. It has always been that way, through all of her previous winning appearances at the Freihofer’s Run for Women – which, this year, incorporated the USATF National 5K Championship – and it was that way again this year, despite a field that included super-hot competitors such as Joan Nesbit, Olga Appell and Cheri Goddard. Jennings appraised the field, drew on her intimate knowledge of the course, and exacted a decisive victory with the precision of a surgeon. She also claimed that prize that has eluded her for so long: the course and US women-only record. At the finish line, a time of 15:24 clipped the old record of Judi St Hilaire by three full seconds.
“I’m very satisfied,” understated the once-again champion. “It helps to have competition.”
The bare figures, though, illustrate little of the drama that surrounded this race. Jennings arrived in Albany after a handful of indifferent performances had cast doubt in the minds of some as to whether she could dominate this event as she has in the past. That fact also placed additional fire in the eyes of Appell and others who would enjoy little more than toppling a competitor of Jennings’ stature. But that was not meant to be.
From the gun, the defending champion was always poised near the front of a group that included Shelly Steely, Amy Legacki, Collette Murphy and Laura Mason, plus Nesbit, Appell and Goddard. Once the early jockeying for position had settled down, it quickly became apparent that it was Appell, a former citizen of Mexico now competing for the USA, who was going to be the most aggressive. As the bulk of the field resigned themselves to waging their own wars for the minor placings, Appell forged on, with Nesbit and Jennings hanging close in her footsteps.
A first mile in 5:03 indicated that the course record was, most likely, safe for another year. All of the front-runners had other ideas. Appell maintained pressure through the rolling hills of Washington Park, a tactic that succeeded in jettisoning Nesbit with just under half the course completed. It was shortly thereafter that the incident occurred that almost brought an end to Jennings’ winning intentions. Rounding a right-hand turn as they exited from the Park, Jennings stepped on a small patch of mud. Stumbling, her other foot hit the curb, sending her sprawling into a traffic cone. Amazingly, she did not hit the ground. Instead she lost an immediate ten meters as Appell, evidently oblivious to what had happened, maintained her focus. So experienced a competitor as Jennings is not easily unsettled. Once erect again, a smooth acceleration allowed her to recoup the ground that Appell had opened and, within 50 meters, things were as they had been before: Appell striding forcefully in front, Jennings shadowing her every move.
Re-entering the Park and passing two miles in 10:07, Appell injected surge after surge in a vain attempt to dislodge Jennings. But, with the finish line coming ever nearer, the inevitability of the outcome became ever more clear. The deciding move came with 150m remaining, as the two front runners flew down the hill toward the finish on Madison Avenue. With a blistering injection of pace, Jennings powered her way into the lead, opening a stride on Appell which she increased to three seconds by the finish line. Appell’s time of 15:27 equaled the old course record. Collette Murphy finished hard, taking third in 15:53, as Nesbit, feeling the effects of the hard early pace, faded to fourth in 15:57.
Such a magnificent run from Jennings was suitably rewarded. She earned $7000 for her victory and a bonus of $5000 for the new course and US record. For good measure, her time was also the fifth fastest time in US history on a loop course.
With such an intense race among the open competitors, it might have been easy to overlook the over-40 racers. At least it might have been had Jane Welzel, a newly turned 40 year-old, not produced an outstanding performance to dominate her competition and take the victory in a time of 17:06.
“It gives me a great incentive,” commented Welzel of her move into the new age-group. “I just hope to give some inspiration to some of the younger kids to run a bit faster. I know I never wanted to get beat by a master.”
In addition to all of the elite competitors, the day’s spotlight also shone on the more than 2300 women who covered the course, the largest entry in the history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women.
“This was a great day for Albany,” exulted race director, George Regan. “We had our biggest field ever, we had a magnificent course record, and we saw one of the greatest races we’ve ever seen. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
5K: 1 Lynn Jennings, NH, 15:24. 2 Olga Appell, NM, 15:27. 3 Collette Murphy, IN, 15:53. 4 Joan Nesbit, NC, 15:57. 5 Kate Fonshell, PA, 15:58. 6 Laura LaMena-Coll, OR, 15:59. 7 Laura Mason, PA, 16:02. 8 Cheri Goddard, VA, 16:11. 9 Lisa Senatore, MA, 16:15. 10 Cindi Girard, NJ, 16:17. 11 Shelly Steely, NM, 16:20. 12 Katrina Price, TX, 16:22. 13 Heather Lucas, WA, 16:32. 14 Patti Weigand, NY, 16:34. 15 Christine Boyd, NM, 16:38. 16 Regina Joyce, WA, 16:38. 17 Monique Ecker, NM, 16:43. 18 Susannah Beck, OR, 16:46. 19 Senoria Clarke, MD, 16:47. 20 Vicky Mitchell, NY, 16:47
Over 40: 1 Jane Welzel, CO, 17:06. 2 Carol McLatchie, TX, 17:31. 3 Rebecca Wooley, CT, 17:34
Lynn Jennings could rightly lay claim to owning a 3.1 mile stretch of Albany, NY real estate – to be precise, the length of asphalt comprising the Freihofer’s Run for Women course. Invariably – this being the US championship and the highest paying women’s 5K in the nation – the competition is torrid to say the least. But, prior to 1996, Jennings had won this race no less than six times and, in 1995, had set new course- and US women-only figures of 15:24. She had dubbed that course record her Holy Grail. With that accomplished, it could only be speculated as to whether her motivation would be as intense for the 1996 race.
But if Jennings is nothing else, she is a ferocious competitor. Once the gun retorts, there are few who focus on the parry and thrust of the race as much as she. For that reason, she boasts three World Cross Country titles, one Olympic bronze medal, and too many US championship titles to tally. So it was once again when the gun sounded in downtown Albany to send over 2300 women barreling off the starting line.
As has become customary at Freihofer’s, this was – and will be recalled as – one of the most intimidating womens’ fields of the year. Also ready to run were Anne Marie Lauck and Linda Somers – two thirds of the US Olympic marathon team – Olga Appell, Kristy Johnston, Colette Murphy, Kim Jones, Joan Nesbit, Carmen Troncoso, plus a band of others ready to scoop up any of the more favored competitors should they show sings of faltering. Jennings would not be among those.
Up the gradual incline that comprises the opening mile, Jennings forged to forefront. At once she held a margin of five meters on the field. “I wondered where all the other women were,” she later recounted. Pretty much, they were all gone. All with the exception of Lauck. If there is one women in the US with the competitive aggression of Jennings, it must be Lauck. She was not about to be consigned to an also run position so early in the race, this despite having spent a sleepless night with a stomach disorder. Realizing that Jennings was going to make this one hurt from the gun, Lauck decided that she would make her own hurtful contribution, drawing inexorably back to the leader’s shoulder and holding position there as the two cruised past the first mile with a time of 4:58 on the clock.
Behind these two came Nesbit, Murphy, Jones, Johnston and a handful of others, but with Appell – second here in 1995 – surprisingly absent. Jennings and Lauck spent little time pondering who was in arrears; they focused purely on the fray in which they were embroiled.
Twelve months previously, with Appell leading, Jennings had slipped and almost fell on a patch of mud close to the half way mark. This time, Lauck led in an exact replay of that scenario, but as the two rounded that same corner, the goop was notably absent. “That corner was cleaner than my kitchen floor,” Jennings later noted. Lauck gave no thought to such matters. She pressed onward relentlessly, using the only tactic that was going to work on Jennings, who, regardless, held close in her footsteps as they passed two miles in 10:02.
In the last number of years, it has only been after the leaders have departed the pastoral Washington Park and turned onto the long sweep down to the finish line that the intensity has truly built in the Freihofer’s race. This year was more of the same. Lauck pressed harder and harder, drawing on the awesome strength she has built through years of high mileage and long torturous interval workouts. Still, Jennings would not budge. With the finish line coming into sight, Lauck began to look left and right in an attempt to determine on which side Jennings would make her move. It hardly made any difference. When Jennings kicked for home with 100m remaining, the race was over.
Well almost. It was only then, with the race in hand, that Jennings noticed the finish line clock and started thinking, “Course record.” Of course, she may also have been thinking, “Course record bonus – $5000.” She increased her pace even more, sprinting through the line and taking a healthy three seconds off her one year old mark with new figures of 15:21. Lauck, though beaten, had to be thrilled to equal the old figures indicating that she was in the shape of her life as the Olympic Games drew near.
Though the question was asked many times, Jennings stuck to her party line with regard to a 5000m/10,000m double at the Olympic Trials. “I’m keeping my options open,” she said.
The over-40 race was just as intriguing as the open division. Jane Welzel returned to Albany as the defending champion, but with Anne Audain also in the field and now a US citizen, having formerly been a New Zealander, there were many who maintained that Welzel would have to settle for the silver medal this time around. Welzel, to her great credit, was not convinced.
She enacted that most effective of race tactics; go out hard, work the middle mile(s), sprint home. Rarely was it performed to such effect. Not only did Welzel claim the overall victory and $1000 award, she took down the US record in the process. She crossed the finish line 15th overall in a time of 16:28, 23 seconds up on, not Audain, but the surprising Alice Thurau from Fisher PA. Audain placed third in 17:07.
“This was one of the greatest days in the 18 year history of this race,” exclaimed race director, George Regan. “The weather was perfect, we had two US records [Jennings’ mark was the best time for a women’s-only race – Ed], and the crowds along the course were the largest I’ve ever seen. It was a great day for Albany.”
5K: 1 Lynn Jennings NH 15:21. 2 Anne Marie Lauck GA 15:24. 3 Joan Nesbit NC 15:42. 4 Kristi Johnston CO 15:53. 5 Colette Murphy IN 15:54. 6 Laura Lamena-Coll OR 15:55. 7 Kim Jones WA 16:00. 8 Celsa Kidman IL 6:00. 9 Lisa Knoblich CT 16:00. 10 Carmen Troncoso TX 16:01. 11 Lori Hewig NY 16:07. 12 Linda Somers CA 16:08. 13 Debbi Kilpatrick OH 16:10. 14 Olga Appell NM 16:12. 15 Jane Welzel CO 16:28. 16 Alicia Kelly NJ 16:30. 17 Maggie Murray MA 16:30. 18 Wendy Nelson-Barrett PA 16:31. 19 Laurie Mizener CO 16:34. 20 Kristen Schwartz CO 16:36.
Over 40: 1 Jane Welzel CO 16:28. 2 Alice Thurau PA 16:51. 3 Anne Audain ID 17:07. 4 Rebecca Stockdale-Wooley CT 17:27. 5 Carol McLatchie TX 17:29. 6 Sheila Purves MA 17:59. 7 Sidney Letendre MA 18:31. 8 Marilyn Bright MA 19:01. 9 Sharon Vos CT 19:04. 10 Ala Cossi MA 19:09.
Over 50: 1 Randon Fritsch MD 18:43. 2 Susan Gustafson MA 19:06. 3 Carrie Parsi MA 20:16. 4 Jayne Zinke NY 20:38.
Lynn Jennings returned to take one more Freihofer’s title, but this time the laurels went to the emerging Elva Dryer from Albuquerque, NM. Dryer ran tactically throughout the race and injected a devastating surge with three-quarters of a mile remaining that decided the outcome immediately. Jennings had to work hard to hold off local favorite, Cheri Goddard, as they took second and third respectively. Star of the day, though, was over-40 winner, Ruth Wysocki, who scorched to a 10th place overall finish in a new world record of 16:06.
On a day when temperatures soared into the 80s, Lynn Jennings, 37 years old from Newmarket, NH, scored her eighth victory in the Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany, NY, the race that also doubles as the USA Track and Field national championship.
After defending champion, Elva Dryer from Albuquerque, NM, was forced to withdraw following an ankle injury incurred during a photo shoot, Jennings once again became a marginal favorite in a race that included almost all of the leading female road racers in the USA. Also among those on the starting line were last year’s third place finisher, Cheri Goddard-Kenah from Arlington, VA, Libbie Hickman from Fort Collins, CO, Anne Marie Lauck from Hamptonn, NJ, Melody Fairchild from Boulder, CO and Gina Procaccio from Boston, MA.
As the largest field in the 20 year history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women got underway, it was Joan Nesbit from Chapel Hill, NC who was most aggressive. She forced her way to the front of the field of 3400 runners allowing Jennings, Goddard, Hickman, Lauck, Kathy Franey from Wellesley, MA and Jennifer Rhines from Haverford, PA to sit in behind and take advantage of the leader’s pace-making. The lure of a $1000 premium for the first person to reach the one mile mark in five minutes or faster began to play a part close to three quarters of a mile, when Lauck surged into a three meter lead to which the rest of the field barely responded. Once Lauck realized that the pace was too slow to take the incentive bonus, she eased the pace once again and cruised through the one mile mark in 5:11 with Nesbit, Jennings, Rhines, Goddard and Hickman all hard on her heels.
At the half way mark, Lauck still held the lead with five runners holding close formation behind her – Jennings, Hickman, Nesbit, Rhines and Goddard. Through two miles (10:28), things remained largely unchanged. Nesbit and Hickman exchanged the lead briefly, but with the main contenders identified, it was evident that all of the top finishers were preparing themselves for the inevitable blistering charge along the final three quarter mile to the finish line. Exiting Washington Park and making the left hand turn onto Madison Avenue, it was Hickman who was the first to make a decisive charge for victory. She injected a surge that immediately jettisoned Nesbit, Rhines and Lauck and which ensured that the winner would be decided amongst herself, Jennings and Goddard.
Characteristically, it was Jennings who responded most readily. She increased the pace and sat in behind Hickman ready to unleash her renowned kick. Goddard, too, showed remarkable speed. She hung on behind the two leaders and, as Hickman faded with 300m remaining, moved to within striking distance of Jennings. With the finish line so close, however, there was little Goddard could do, and Jennings hammered across the line with a time of 15:46 on the clock to claim her eighth Freihofer’s victory and $7000 in prize money. Goddard-Kenah finished second in 15:47 ($5000), with Hickman third in 15:50 ($4000).
“I knew I was going to win,” commented Jennings shortly after the race. “I was really confident. I felt I was very relaxed all spring and was very confident. I feel on top of the world. Number eight was really gratifying.”
The masters’ race for runners 40 years of age and older was expected to be dominated by Ruth Wysocki who, in 1997, had set a world record of 16:06. This year, however, Wysocki had to settle for a third place finish as 1984 Olympic marathon champion, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, surged into the lead after the half way mark and raced to the finish line in a time of 16:33 good for prize money in the amount of $1500. Second place went past champion Jane Welzel from Fort Collins, CO in a time of 16:43 with Wysocki third in 16:51.
“It was a great race,” commented Benoit-Samuelson. “I made my masters’ debut here last year and placed third and was a little disappointed. I wanted it this year.”
“This was one of the greatest races we’ve seen in the 20 year history of this race,” said race director, George Regan. “It was truly a classic. The weather, the record field and the competition made this a race I will never forget. It was a great day for Albany.”
On a day when the weather conditions in Albany, N.Y. were perfect for world class road racing, Cheri Goddard-Kenah from Reston, VA and Libbie Hickman from Fort Collins, CO produced one of the most thrilling finishes in the 21-year history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women. The race, which also doubled as the USA National Women’s 5K Championship, saw more than 3,200 women assemble in downtown Albany, including Goddard-Kenah, Hickman, eight-time winner Lynn Jennings, 1997 champion Elva Dryer, plus a host of other top class women intent on challenging for the $10,000 first place prize.
After the gun had sounded for the 10 a.m. start, a group comprising all of the main challengers congealed at the front of the massive field. Anne Marie Lauck from Hampton, NJ, fifth here in 1998, was most aggressive in the opening half mile, although immediately in her wake were Hickman, Goddard, Jennings, Dryer, Jennifer Rhines from Haverford, PA, Joan Nesbit from Chapel Hill, NC, Blake Phillips from Winston-Salem, NC, Melody Fairchild from Boulder, CO and Donna Garcia from Marietta, GA. The first mile is the inevitable benchmark of who the real contenders will be; that mark was passed in 5:12, a moderate pace, but with Hickman suddenly in the lead tailed by Dryer, Goddard-Kenah and Jennings who, in April, had contested the Boston Marathon.
So it appeared, as Hickman pressed the pace on an incline approaching 1.5 miles, a move that was covered only by Goddard-Kenah. Jennings was consigned to battle for third place with Dryer, Nesbit, et al, while the two leaders forged ahead at the front of the field, racing shoulder to shoulder for the victory and with more than half the race still remaining.
At two miles, a split of 10:09 indicated a 4:57 second mile – evidence of a sharp increase in intensity. Hickman was in the lead, although she quickly decided that she was not to be made a sacrificial lamb, easing off on the pace and slipping in behind Goddard-Kenah so that the latter could assume the burden of pace-making. Goddard-Kenah, a native of nearby Saratoga Springs, N.Y., accepted that role willingly, spurred by the throngs of spectators lining the course, all of whom regarded her as the hometown favorite. Thereafter, although the lead changed intermittently, it was Hickman and Goddard-Kenah shoulder to shoulder, waging an intense battle that would take them to the finish line with just inches between them.
Exiting Washington Park and turning left for the sweeping half mile descent to the finish line adjacent to Empire State Plaza, Goddard-Kenah inched in front, but without gaining a significant advantage on Hickman. Both are women schooled in the art of 1500m and 5000m racing on the track, and both have comparable best times at those distances. With the tape drawing inexorably nearer, there was nothing to indicate who would claim the victory.
Possibly it was the roar of the partisan crowd that was the telling factor. With just 20m remaining, and with both women running flat out, Hickman appeared to gain a handful of inches, drawing even with Goddard-Kenah’s shoulder. So close to home, however, Goddard-Kenah was not to be easily denied. She responded with a desperate surge that gave her a marginal advantage once again. Even so, as the two crashed through the finishing tape, it was almost impossible so see daylight between them. Both were awarded the same time of 15:31, although Goddard-Kenah was a clear, if marginal, winner.
“My big motivation was being in my hometown,” commented Goddard-Kenah.
“I felt confident and strong. My strategy was to take the lead after two miles. The crowd really pushed me coming down the hill. My 1500m training enabled me to hold off Libbie. Rich [Kenah, her husband and one of the world’s leading 800m runners] is going to be psyched. He knows how big a race Freihofer’s is in this area.”
“I knew Cheri would be my competition in this race,” said Hickman. “I knew she had the speed, so I wanted to get things moving a little in the second mile. I thought that I could outkick her. But congratulations to her. She really worked for it.”
Jennings finished third in 15:46 and stated, “I ran a strong race. I’m happy to be where I am at this point in the season. I concentrated very hard on staying in third. I would have been upset if I’d lost out on third.”
In the master’s race for competitors 40 years of age and older, Carmen Troncoso from Austin, TX, dominated from the gun, taking the title and 19th position overall in a time of 16:37, for which she claimed prize money in the amount of $3000. Second place in the master’s division went to 1997 winner and world record holder, Ruth Wysocki from Canyon Lake, CA, who finished 28th overall in 17:15.
“I’m very pleased,” explained Troncoso, I wanted to go out hard. My first mile was 5:15. From then on it was mental — just stay there and hang tough.”
For race director, George Regan, the 21st Freihofer’s Run for Women was one of the best of all time. “It was gorgeous with over 20,000 spectators,” he enthused. “A perfect day for world class racing, and that’s exactly what we had today. I’m thrilled. It was a great day for Albany.”
With a blistering turn of speed in the final half mile, Libbie Hickman, 35, of Fort Collins, CO, won the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K after a race that was by turns both tactical and aggressive.
For the eighth consecutive year, this race doubled as the US national women’s 5K (3.1 mile) championship, thus luring many of the country’s top female distance runners to the streets of the New York State capital. Even so, both Lynn Jennings, an eight-time winner here, and Cheri Goddard-Kenah, the defending champion, were missing from the field, the former having gone into seclusion to prepare for July’s Olympic 10,000m trial, and the latter sidelined through injury. Nonethless, Hickman, who placed third here in 1998 and second in 1999, knew that the caliber of field would be a real test of her race-fitness as she, too, built towards the Olympic Trials and a spot on the US 10,000m team for the Sydney Games in September.
Among those vying for the US title and the $5000 first place prize were established names such as Kate Fonshell (Ardmore, PA), Jennifer Rhines(Haverford, PA), Olga Appell (Albuquerque, NM), Anne Marie Lauck(Hampton, NJ) and Sylvia Mosqueda (South Pasadena, CA). Also in contention, though, were new and talented names on the US distance running scene such as Donna Garcia (Marietta, GA), Blake Russell (Chapel Hill, NC) and Laura Baker (Dorchester, MA).
With a blustery wind buffetting the field at the 10:15am starting time, it was anticipated that the early going would be cautious. The 33 year-old Mosqueda, however, appeared intent on ignoring both the conditions and the superb field gathered around her. She bolted to the front immediately the gun sounded, gaining a full 20 meters advantage within the first 90 seconds of the race. Mosqueda’s early-race aggression is well known on the road racing circuit, though; so while the lithe Californian charged onward, a group of 10 including Hickman, Russell, Rhines, Baker, Fonshell, Garcia – all of the pre-race favorites – amassed behind her, waiting for Mosqueda’s impetuousity to take its toll.
At the first mile marker in Washington Park, Mosqueda cruised through with a time of 5:09 on the clock, a full seven seconds ahead of the chasing pack, fronted by Hickman. Shortly thereafter, the latter decided that it was time to make some inroads.
“The first mile felt really easy to me. That’s my marathon strength,” commented Hickman, who was the fastest US marathoner of 1999 but who in February failed in her attempt to make the US Olympic marathon team. “My main concern was not to let Sylvia get too far ahead.”
Hickman injected a surge which brought her even with Mosqueda at 1.5 miles and which, in many ways, determined the ultimate outcome.
“I wanted to have someone to run with so I could sit in and relax,” she commented. “I didn’t know where my strength would be today, but I didn’t want to leave it until the last 100m.” As Hickman sat in behind the front-running Mosqueda, however, the chasing pack, fronted by Russell and reduced to just herself, Rhines, Fonshell and Baker, also began to gain ground. At the two mile marker, the clock read 10:22 for Mosqueda and Hickman, and 10:24 for the following foursome. Into the third mile, attrition began to take an inevitable toll. As Mosqueda fought valiantly to retain control from the clearly comfortable Hickman, 10 meters back Baker began to fall adrift, soon to be followed by Fonshell.
With the leaders leaving Washington Park and swinging onto Madision Avenue for the lightning fast three-quarter mile stretch to the finish line, Mosqueda led from Hickman, but with Russell leaving Rhines in her wake and quickly gaining ground on the leaders, unbeknownst to them. Mosqueda continued to press, while Hickman composed herself, gauging the moment at which she would deliver her decisive sprint. That moment came the instant Hickman became aware of Russell attempting to wedge her way between herself and Mosqueda.
Sensing more than seeing the new contender, Hickman increased the ante to a level nobody could match. Through the final downhill half mile, she sprinted in splendid isolation, crossing the finish line in a time of 15:35, exceptional in the windy conditions. Russell also outkicked Mosqueda, as those two reached the finish line in 15:43 and 15:44 respectively.
“You have to take three shots at it to learn the course,” laughed Hickman in reference to her runner-up position last year and her third place finish in 1998. “I struggled after the Marathon Trials and I had to take more time off than I wanted. This shows me that I can be a force (at the 10,000m trials in Sacramento, CA in July) and not just another body on the track.”
The masters’ race for women over 40 provided almost as many thrills as the open division. It featured defending champion Carmen Troncoso, 42, from Austin, TX, and Judi St Hilaire, 40, from Somerset, MA, the woman who won the open division in 1989 in a course record of 15:26, and who took the crown again in 1991. It was Troncoso who emerged victorious again, however, crossing the finish line in 16:26, although with St Hilaire just three seconds behind.
“I felt great the whole way,” asserted Troncoso, “but I didn’t know Judi was so close. I just wish I could have broken the course record (16:06 by Ruth Wysocki from 1997, a time that is also the world record).
Over 3000 women competed in this year’s race.
“This was one of the greatest competitions we’ve ever had at Freihofer’s,” stated Race Director, George Regan. “Even without Lynn Jennings and Cheri Goddard-Kenah, the field was exceptional. Libbie proved that she’s one of the best road racers in the world. She’s ready to claim her spot on the US Olympic team. This was a great day for Albany.”
Top 10 Open
1 Libbie Hickman 35 F Fort Collins CO 15:35
2 Blake Phillips Russe 24 F Greensboro NC 15:43
3 Sylvia Mosqueda 34 F S Pasadena CA 15:44
4 Jennifer Rhines 25 F Haverford PA 15:51
5 Laura Baker 25 F Dorchester MA 16:00
6 Katherine Fonshell 30 F Ardmore PA 16:02
7 Donna Garcia 32 F Marietta GA 16:08
8 Rachel Sauder 26 F Archibold OH 16:10
9 Shelly Steely 37 F Albuquerque NM 16:19
10 Katie McGregor 22 F Ann Arbor MI 16:19
Top 5 Masters
1 Carmen Ayala-Troncoso 41 F Austin TX 16:28
2 Judi St. Hilaire 40 F Somerset MA 16:31
3 Maria Trujillo De Rios 40 F Los Gatos CA 17:09
4 Jane Welzel 45 F Fort Collins CO 17:32
5 Patricia Ford 44 F Lafayette NY 17:54
Fifty-two degree weather and intermittent rain didn’t deter a record field of more than 3,500 competitors signing up for this year’s Freihofer’s Run for Women, a race which also doubled as the 2001 USA Track and Field 5K road race championship. And from that field, Collette Liss (28, Valparaiso, IN) emerged as the winner after a race in which she controlled the field from the gun, turning back challenges from last year’s second and third place finishers, Blake Russell (25, Medford, MA) and Sylvia Mosqueda (35, Los Angeles, CA). Liss reached the finish line in a time of 15:47 with Russell second (15:58) and Mosqueda third (15:59).
“Winning a national title is definitely something to get excited about,” smiled Liss, who also won the US indoor one mile title in Atlanta last April.
With defending champion, Libbie Hickman, opting not to return to Albany in order to focus on the US track and field championships in Oregon later this month, most pre-race conjecture focused on the duel between Russell and Mosqueda, their home stretch battle having been one of the highlights of the 2000 Freihofer’s Run for Women. In the 24 hours before the race, though, Mosqueda was stricken with a throat ailment, placing her participation in question until the morning of the race.
One week prior to the Albany event, however, Liss had served notice that this was not to be a two-woman race. A personal best time of 8:55.51 over 3000m at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon gave evidence of her race sharpness and offered the tantalizing prospect that, for the first time in many years, the Freihofer’s Run for Women title might be claimed by a race debutante.
From the gun, Liss gave every indication that she intended to make that notion a reality. With Mosqueda weakened and not showing her characteristic early-race aggression, Liss moved immediately to the forefront and, in company with Russell, carved out a pace that quickly indicated who the contenders would be. As anticipated, there were just three.
After passing the first kilometer in 3:16 — a time slowed by the slick conditions underfoot — Russell and Liss forged to the one mile mark (5:10) with Mosqueda a stride in arrears. Ten meters back, Natalie Nalepa (32, San Antonio, TX) held an isolated fourth position, with over-40 contender and two-time past FRW champion, Judi St. Hilaire, fronting a congested pack of chasers a further 10 meters back.
Just past the one mile marker, Liss determined that it was time to ask a few questions. On a short downhill stretch, she injected a surge intended to ascertain what her contenders held in reserve. While it had no evident effect on Russell, it was sufficient to weaken Mosqueda, who lost three meters on the leader that she was never to regain. With the battle down to just two competitors, Liss backed off the pace, allowing herself and Russell to run shoulder to shoulder through the rolling second mile. At three kilometers, the clock read 9:46, while at two miles a time of 10:27 revealed a second mile split of 5:15. Liss, it appeared, was biding her time while Russell, who has raced sparingly since her surprise silver medal here 12 months previously, seemed as though she was beginning to labor.
“I could tell by her breathing that she was putting out more energy than I was,” observed Liss later.
Re-entering Washington Park shortly after two miles, Liss decided it was time to make the decisive move. Undeterred by the widening puddles along the roadside, she produced a surge to which Russell had no response. Immediately, the victor was identified. Liss forged onward, making the left turn onto Madison Avenue and the final downhill half mile of the finish with an advantage of 10 meters, a gap she increased all the way to the line adjacent to Albany’s spectacular Empire State Plaza.
“I’ve just been trying to get to as many high quality races as I can,” explained Liss of her decision to come to the 2001 Freihofer’s event prior to contesting both the 1500m and the 5000m at this month’s US track and field championships. “I have a tendency to expend a lot of effort in the first two thirds of the race, so I’m happy that I felt very good at the end today.”
With Liss in command at the front, the battle for second place between Russell and the doggedly determined Mosqueda was now on. Though the latter closed inexorably in the run-in to the finish, Russell was not to be easily denied a second place finish. At the line, a single second separated them, with Russell getting the decision, 16:57 to 16:58.
The battle among the over-40 competitors was no less enthralling than that among the open runners. Indeed, the master’s field was a race director’s dream featuring a handful of the top age-group competitors in the country, including two-time champion, Carmen Troncoso (42, Austin, TX), 1984 Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit-Samueloson (44, Freeport, ME), the in-form Mary Knisely (42, Naperville, IL), past-champion Jane Welzel (45, Fort Collins, CO) and, of course, St Hilaire (41, Somerset, MA), the open winner here in 1989 and 1991). Two days before the race, St Hilaire was unsure that she would even show up due to a foot problem. An encouraging run on Saturday, though, prompted her to make the trip and, once in Albany, she gave none of her competitors a chance.
From the outset she was aggressive, placing herself at or near the front of a knot of open competitors racing for the top 10 overall positions. “When I looked up at two miles and realized I was in the top five, I thought ‘That’s not too bad’,” she commented.
If St. Hilaire needed any additional motivation, that was it. Though Knisely closed hard through the closing mile, she could make little inroads into St Hilaire’s advantage. At the finish line, St Hilaire passed under the clock in fifth position overall, taking the over-40 title by nine seconds in 16:18, with Knisely one place and nine seconds in arrears. “I’d love to get under 16:00,” smiled St Hilaire. “It’s a question of staying healthy and staying focused.”
Behind the front-runners a stream of competitors poured across the downtown Albany finish line with the rain dampening their spirits not in the least. “This is the largest field of entrants we’ve had in the history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women,” commented Race Director George Regan, “and this has been one of the greatest races we’ve ever had. Congratulations to Collette and Judi on their fabulous performances, and congratulations to all of those who took part. This was a great day for Albany.”
Top 10 Open
1 Collette Liss 28 Indianapolis, IN 15:47
2 Blake Russell 25 Medford, MA 15:58
3 Sylvia Mosqueda 35 Los Angeles, CA 15:59
4 Natalie Nalepa 32 Austin, TX 16:17
5 Judi St. Hilaire 41 Somerset, MA 16:18
6 Mary Knisley 42 Naperville, IL 16:27
7 Janelle Kraus 23 Winston Salem, NC 16:30
8 Nicole Hunt 31 Deer Lodge, MT 16:39
9 Carmen Troncoso 42 Austin, TX 16:40
10 Vicki Mitchell 31 Amherst, NY 16:41
Top 5 Masters
1 Judi St. Hilaire 41 Somerset, MA 16:18
2 Mary Knisley 42 Naperville, IL 16:27
3 Carmen Troncoso 42 Austin, TX 16:40
4 Lori Hewig 41 Schenectady, NY 16:52
5 Gordon Bakoulis 40 New York, NY 17:09
In glorious sunshine, 3,564 women – the largest in event history – gathered on the streets of Albany this morning to contest the 24th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women, the race that also doubles as USA Women’s 5K Championship. None, however, could match the combination of speed and strength exhibited by Marla Runyan, as the 33-year-old Oregonian stormed to a nine-second victory in a time of 15 minutes, 27 seconds – the fourth fastest in Freihofer’s history. For her win, Runyan earned $7,000. Making her victory all the more impressive is the fact that Runyan is legally blind. (For compete Freihofer’s Run for Women results, go to: https://freihofersrun.com. These results will be posted today after 5 p.m. EST.) “I couldn’t have run harder,” said Runyan, who was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease – a degenerative disorder that is the most common cause of blindness in the U.S. – while attending high school at high school in Camarillo, CA. “In the last mile, I was saying to myself, ‘Where’s that downhill [leading to the finish]?’ I couldn’t have gone any faster today.”
In fact, Runyan’s inability to see the route clearly may have cost her the course record – 15:24 set by Lynn Jennings back in 1995. Throughout the winding third mile in Washington Park, Runyan held the mid-line of the road, following the lead vehicles, rather than cutting the tangents, as those following were doing. Nonetheless, as the finish line drew nearer, there was never any question as to whom the winner would be.
That was not the case from the outset, however. An outstanding field – including three past-winners (2001 winner Collette Liss, 2000 victor Libbie Hickman and 1999 champion Cheri Kenah) and six Olympians – raced away from the starting line at 10:15 a.m. Though Runyan was immediately at the forefront, she was closely attended by Colleen De Reuck, a former South African, a three-time Olympian and, now, a U.S. citizen, plus Kenah, Liss, Amy Rudolph, Sylvia Mosqueda and emerging star Carrie Tollefson. The swift early pace quickly told its tale, though, and by the first mile marker, passed in 5:03, only three remained in contention – Runyan, De Reuck and Kenah.
“That’s the fastest I’ve ever gone out in this race,” commented Kenah, a native of nearby Saratoga Springs. Regrettably for her many fans along the course, Kenah paid a price for her early pace, fading to an ultimate eighth position (16:10). De Reuck and Runyan, however, upped the ante in the second mile, reaching that marker in 10:05 – meaning a 5:02 second mile – and indicating that the course record was definitely within reach. Shortly thereafter, De Reuck, who had been aggressive throughout the early stages, began to show signs of weakening. Making the right turn back into Washington Park, daylight began to appear between herself and the smooth-striding Runyan. A scant meter, quickly became five. Then, despite not hugging the turns, Runyan surged onward to an exceptional victory in her first appearance at the Freihofer’s Run for Women.
“I knew it was going to be tough. Colleen is such a great runner,” Runyan stated. “I don’t think that I really made a move. Colleen pushed me so hard for the first part of the course; then I just maintained it.” Of her first U.S. road title, Runyan stated, “I’m thrilled.” Also at stake on the streets of Albany was the USA Women’s 5K Master’s Championship for runners over 40 years of age. That title went to 40-year-old Joan Nesbit-Mabe from Chapel Hill, NC, a third place finisher in the open race back in 1996. Nesbit-Mabe scorched across the Freihofer’s finish line in a time of 16:54, edging out marathon specialist, Gordon Bakoulis from New York City, who finished four seconds later.
“Coming out of the Park [with approximately 800m remaining], Gordon just flew past me,” Nesbit-Mabe explained, “but there were some other younger runners around me, so I hung on with them and managed to get back past Gordon in the home stretch.” With temperatures surging into the high 70s, 20,000 spectators thronged downtown Albany to cheer on arguably the best field in the history of this race. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” enthused event director, George Regan. “We couldn’t have asked for a better field, and we couldn’t have asked for a more exciting finish. This really was a great day for Albany.”
The Freihofer’s Run for Women is the third stop on the 2002 Women’s USA Running Circuit (USARC), a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA Championships from 5K to the marathon. The 2002 USARC, the eighth edition for the men and seventh for the women, offers over $340,000 in championship prize money plus a $25,000 grand prix purse.
Top 10 Open
1 Marla Runyan 33 Eugene OR 15:27
2 Colleen De Reuck 38 Boulder CO 15:36
3 Sylvia Mosqueda 36 Los Angeles CA 15:58
4 Libbie Hickman 37 Fort Collins CO 15:58
5 Collette Liss 29 Indianapolis IN 16:02
6 Amy Rudolph 28 Gray TN 16:02
7 Carrie Tollefson 25 Boston MA 16:08
8 Cheri Kenah 31 Reston VA 16:10
9 Nicole Jefferson 26 Boston MA 16:15
10 Priscilla Hein 25 Indianapolis IN 16:17
Top 5 Masters
1 Joan Nesbit Mabe 40 Chapel Hill NC 16:54
2 Gordon Bakoulis 41 New York NY 16:58
3 Kimberly Griffin 40 New York NY 17:08
4 Janet Robertz 42 Shorewood MN 17:30
5 Carmen Ayala-Troncoso 43 Austin TX 17:35
Marla Runyan ran the course twice yesterday to make a mental map of the turns, curves, and hills, but each time she turned a block too soon in her re-entry into Washington Park. Today, she made all the right moves through the downtown streets of Albany on her way to defending her USA 5k Championship at the Freihofer’s Run For Women. She broke the tape in 15:25, just a shoelace behind Lynn Jennings’ 15:24 course record (1995).
“It’s a great feeling to run with all these women,” said Runyan post-race holding a bouquet of flowers. I have so much respect for all the women here today. This is a tremendous race.”
Conditions were nearly perfect for the 25th Anniversary running of the event. Hazy skies, calm winds, and friendly temperatures (66 degrees) greeted a pageant of 3,616 women (a record turnout) at the start under the spectacular backdrop of the Empire State Plaza.
A group of nine runners distinguished themselves from the masses as they entered Washington Park early in the race. Katie McGregor was the early leader but there was very little elbowroom in the lead pack. Runyan, Colleen De Reuck, Blake Russell, Nicole Jefferson, Collette Liss, Ann Marie Brooks, Carrie Tollefson, and Briana Shook were all sharing the same space on the road. Sarah Toland was just a few steps behind.
De Reuck took the wheel just before mile 1, passed in 5:09. She pushed the pace, and cleared a little breathing room for herself, with the rest of the group shaking out of the tight-knit formation.
“I wanted to work the middle part of the course through the park,” said De Reuck. “I knew I had to really push things the second half.”
De Reuck led them out of the park at the halfway point, strung along almost single file. De Reuck had a slight lead over the trailing Runyan, with Russell chasing a few meters back. Jefferson and McGregor were working together in the background as were Tollefson and Brooks.
Runyan then made a move and went by De Reuck and quickly opened up a sizable lead.
“When Marla came by it was like ‘whoosh’ she was gone,” said De Reuck. “I said, cheers!”
From then it was a matter of whether Runyan could chase down Jennings’ CR, and if De Reuck could hold off all challenges for second place. Runyan passed mile 2 in 10:10 (5:01 split), well behind the CR pace, but as everyone knows, the final stretch is screamer, in more ways than one.
“When I passed mile two, I thought the record was out of reach,” said Runyan. “But I just told myself to run as hard as I can.”
She indeed ran hard, and as she re-entered Washington Park, making the proper turn, she had a commanding lead on De Reuck. The slower runners on their first time through the park screamed enthusiastically, some even stopping to catch a better view of their American idol as she sped by going the other direction.
“I saw the cones so I knew I wasn’t supposed to turn where I had turned yesterday,” said Runyan. “I was thinking, oh no, I have to go another block. I just love coming back into the park. People were calling me by my name, Go Marla! That’s when I really needed it.”
Runyan’s story is well documented – legally blind for 22 years from Stargardt’s Disease, a macular degeneration that does not allow her to see details or recognize people around her. Last year she strayed from the tangents several times, and apologized later for not running the course as straight as she wanted. This year she was on a mission to find the shortest, and fastest path to the finish line. She ran the curves and tangents very efficiently, and after she made her final left turn onto Madison Avenue, she had only one direction left – straight ahead.
As she charged down the hill it was apparent that she had a chance at the record. The thousands lining the finish area shouted their encouragement but the clock ticked once too often. Nonetheless, she was happy with her time.
“I couldn’t have run any harder. Last year I came in with track speed, but this time I was coming off two straight marathons (New York in November and Boston in April). I didn’t think I would run as fast.”
Meanwhile, Russell was closing the gap on De Reuck, and overtook her on Madison Avenue. But De Reuck didn’t let her get away, and by the time they hit the finish line, De Reuck had reclaimed her 2nd place position in 15:41 to Russell’s 15:43.
“I saw Colleen fading a little, looking back, so I thought I had a chance to catch her,” said Russell. “But I knew even if I caught her she would hang tough.”
Nicole Jefferson finished 4th in 15:51, Katie McGregor 5th in 15:57, and 2001 champion Collette Liss 6th in 16:00.
In the masters race, also the USA 5k Masters National Championship, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso took the lead early and never relinquished it. Her strategy was to run strong the entire race. Her splits were remarkably even, 5:25 the first mile, then 10:55 through two. She finished up in 16:47, considerably faster than her 5th place 17:35 from a year ago.
Ayala-Troncoso has run almost half of the 25 Freihofer’s, this her 12th straight. Her 3 masters victories (1999, 2000, and 2003) tie the great Barbara Filutze (1990, 1992, and 1993) for the most by any masters runner in the history of the event.
“This was my most satisfying race, even better than when I won the first time in 1999,” said Troncoso. “I felt like I had something to prove after last year. I think I could run this race with my eyes closed. Today I felt good, and it was like the race just flew by, but last year, when I was feeling bad, it was endless.”
Janet Robertz finished 2nd in 17:12, Carol LeGate 3rd in 17:28, Mary Level Menton 4th in 17:35, and the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson was just 2 seconds back in 5th.
Benoit Samuelson, taking time to pose for pictures with fans, served as race spokesperson this year. “It’s great to see women running. We had a very, very competitive field here today. Marla is just an amazing person. The biggest win here today is not only seeing Marla, but all the people on the sidelines who get inspired and take charge of their lives and decide to start running. That’s what this event is all about.”
1. Marla Runyan OR 15:25
2. Colleen De Reuck CO 15:41
3. Blake Russell MA 15:43
4. Nicole Jefferson CO 15:51
5. Katie McGregor MN 15:57
6. Collette Liss IN 16:00
7. Ann Marie Brooks CO 16:05
8. Carrie Tollefson MN 16:08
9. Sarah Toland CO 16:10
10. Briana Shook OH 16:22
11. Carmen Ayala-Troncoso TX 16:47
12. Amy Lyman MA 16:49
13. Christina Blackmer NY 16:49
14. Sonja Friend-Uhl FL 16:50
15. Tara Pointin NC 16:53
1. Carmen Ayala-Troncoso TX 16:47
2. Janet Robertz MN 17:12
3. Carol LeGate WI 17:28
4. Mary Level Menton FL 17:35
5. Joan Benoit Samuelson ME 17:37
Lynn Jennings, wherever she is, just dodged another bullet. That bullet is Marla Runyan who, for the third straight year, dominated the field at the USA 5 km National Championship hosted by the 26th Freihofer’s Run For Women in Albany, NY. For the third straight year, Runyan came torturously close to Jennings’ course record of 15:24, stopping the clock this time at “15:25.something” which rounds up to 15:26. Last year she won in 15:24.4, the year before in 15:27.
“I could hear the announcer counting down the time as I was coming down the hill,” said the 2000 Olympian at 1500 meters, who earned $10,000 for her victory. “I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I thought I was going to get it because I heard 15:05, 15:06… But the seconds just kept ticking!” The mobs lining the streets urged her down the hill with one eye on the hard-charging Runyan, and the other eye on the fast-ticking finish line clock. The clock won for the third straight year.
The clock was much kinder for Colleen De Reuck, as she grabbed the headlines with her 3rd place 15:47 finish, but more importantly a new Master’s 5 km World Record and the USA Masters National Championship. De Reuck the Destroyer inked her name in the record books for no doubt the first of many Masters world records, destroying Ruth Wysocki’s 16:06 set here in 1997, and just for good measure a pending 15:55 world record set by Russia’s Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova in 2003.
“I was hoping to run a good time,” said De Reuck, who has already made her reservations for the 2004 Olympics in Athens by virtue of winning the USA Olympic Marathon Team Trials. “I’m happy to come in 3rd here, and very happy to run under 15:55. I figured I shouldn’t be much slower than last year (15:40.4,2nd place).”
It was an Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce day for the start of the race, with temperatures in the low 60s, plenty of sunshine, and virtually no wind. The Red Bull Air Force jump team made a thrilling grand entrance just after the Star Spangled Banner, landing in front of 3,500 women on the starting line with the Empire State Plaza providing a spectacular backdrop.
Remarked Joan Nesbit-Mabe, 1996 Olympian and 2002 FRW master’s champion: “George (Regan, long-time event director) really outdid himself this time!”
A pack of four quickly detached themselves within the first half mile, Runyan, De Reuck, Elva Dryer, and Nicole Aish. Sylvia Mosqueda trailed a few meters back, and quickly lost contact and found herself running by herself as the leaders entered Washington Park.
“Ugly,” was how Mosqueda described her race. “It was like my head was asleep, and my body was jittery. I was fighting the entire way.”
The first mile passed in 5:03 with the pack of four still sharing a very small space of real estate. The intensity picked up as they weaved up and down the roads in the park around the lake. Runyan made her first strong move which served to string out the runners single file like elementary school kids on their way to recess. Dryer and De Reuck answered the bell and gave chase with Aish just a few steps behind. As they exited the park near the halfway mark it was evident that Runyan was in control and the other three were battling through their own little bad patches.
Runyan methodically pulled away and there was no doubt she was on her way to a three-peat performance. She turned her attention to the clock, passing mile 2 in 10:12, well behind the pace for the course record. Experienced FRW runners know the final 1.1 miles is turbo-charged.
Runyan’s experience told her not to panic. “I heard the time at mile two and it was almost exactly the same as last year (10:10) so I knew I still had a chance. I didn’t let up.”
Behind her, Dryer, the 1997 Freihofer’s champ, and De Reuck, the 2002 and 2003 Freihofer’s runner-up, were not letting up either. They engaged in a gut-it-out battle for second position, with Dryer finally gaining the advantage near the two-mile mark.
“She’s tough,” said Dryer of De Reuck. “I had to keep pushing because I knew she wouldn’t give up.”
“I knew Elva was back there,” said Runyan. “I didn’t know where she was, but after we came out of the park, I felt like I had it.”
Runyan powered down Madison Avenue within earshot of the huge crowds at the finish line. “I was giving it everything I had, but my legs just gave in. I couldn’t get them to move any faster. I was thinking, ‘please just get me to the finish.'”
Dryer had enough in her legs to hold off De Reuck, but not enough to make a challenge at Runyan. Mosqueda, awake from her mid-race slumber, was making a serious move on Aish in the background as they turned onto Madison.
“I woke up around mile two and told myself to start racing,” said Mosqueda. “But it was too late.”
Aish finished four seconds faster than Mosqueda, both just slipping under 16 minutes.
In the master’s race, Carmen Troncoso finished an impressive 2nd 16:55, but not until she gave herself a little pep talk mid-race.
“Debbie (Kilpatrick-Morris) and Joan (Nesbit-Mabe) passed me at about 1k. I said ‘Ok, Carmen you have to make this hurt.'”
She made the others hurt as she reclaimed her position and held it the rest of the race. Kilpatrick-Morris finished 3rd Masters in 17:03, and Nesbit-Mabe 4th in 17:10 in a very deep masters race. Twelve runners over the age of 40 broke 18 minutes.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Freihofer’s Run For Women spokesperson, ran 17:46 despite aggravating an achilles injury. She was hobbling around with ice on her ankle post-race, but was very pleased with the entire event.
She summed things up: “Great race. Great day. Great race by Marla. Strongest U.S. masters field ever.”
1. Marla Runyan OR 15:26
2. Elva Dryer NM 15:42
3. Colleen De Reuck CO 15:47
4. Nicole Aish CO 15:56
5. Sylvia Mosqueda CA 16:00
6. Amy Yoder-Begley IN 16:20
7. Jenny Crain OR 16:23
8. Rachel Kinsman OH 16:39
9. Sonja Friend-Uhl FL 16:43
10. Cassandra Henkiel TX 16:46
11. Suzanne Weeder-Einspahr NE 16:48
12. Christina Blackmer CT 16:49
13. Megan Flowers-Skeels TX 16:51
14. Carmen Ayala-Troncoso TX 16:55
15. Beth Fonner NC 16:57
1. Colleen De Reuck CO 15:47*
2. Carmen Ayala-Troncoso TX 16:55
3. Debbi Kilpatrick-Morris OH 17:03
4. Joan Nesbit-Mabe NC 17:10
5. Monica Joyce MI 17:24
*Pending Masters World Record
Once the gun sounded to send 3,510 runners on their way in this morning’s 27th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K — open to non-US runners for the first time since 1992 — it was all about Asmae Leghzaoui. The 28-year-old Moroccan had been on a barn-storming campaign since her return from a two-year suspension for EPO use. Six competitive outings had brought her five victories, four course records and one pending world best. Her sole loss, last weekend in Ottawa, was due largely to a course-direction error. In Albany, therefore, the question was not so much if Legzhaoui would win, but if she would better the 10-year-old course record of 15:24 set by eight-time winner, Lynn Jennings.
A tentative first kilometer in the region of 3:10 saw Legzhaoui sitting comfortably in a group with Nicole Aish (CO), Katie McGregor (MN), Kim Smith (NZ) and Marie Davenport (IRL), with the remainder of the field rapidly elongating in their wake. That split time, evidently, was the Moroccan’s cue to set the course alight. Immediately after the roadside timing clock, Legzhaoui injected a surge to which none could offer any response. Within 100m, Legzhaoui had opened a 20m gap, a margin she extended all the way to the line.
The increase in pace was evident at the one-mile marker. The 5:00 split was the fastest seen at that juncture for some years; even so, it extrapolated to somewhere in the region of 15:30, substantially shy of Jennings’ venerable mark. With every stride, however, the leader was gaining ground on the rest of the field and on the course standard. As Smith, McGregor, Aish, Davenport and Ethiopia’s Merima Hashim all vied for the minor placings, the diminutive front-runner (she is 5’ 0″ tall and 90lbs) roared onwards.
As Legzhaoui powered through the long downhill sweep to the finish line, it became ever more clear that this was to be the year that Jennings’ name was to be erased from the books. Blasting through the finishing tape adjacent to the magnificent Empire State Plaza, Legzhaoui stopped the clock at 15:18, a massive six-second improvement, and the fourth fastest time in the world thus far this year.
“I felt I could get the course record in the second kilometer when I saw the split time go from 3:10 to 2:58,” said Legzhaoui, whose first place finishes following her suspension include Sallie May 10k, 31:27 CR (4/16); Salt Lake City 5k, 15:14 (4/23); Lilac Bloomsday 12k, 39:33 (5/1); Bay to Breakers 12k, 38:22 (CR, pending world best; 5/15); Rite-Aid Cleveland 10k, 31:10 CR (5/22).
Asked about the controversy that surrounded her appearance here — four runners, including Kenyan star Lornah Kiplagat, and 2004 World Cross-Country champion, Benita Johnson from Australia, withdrew in protest — the winner simply commented, “A mistake like that (her EPO use) will never go away. It will always be a fingerprint. But this will give me some motivation. When I speak publicly about what I have done, there is a sense of relief for me.”
For her victory, Legzhaoui earned $10,000. Kim Smith won the race for second position with a time of 15:41 ($5,000), while Marie Davenport placed third in 15:45 ($2,500). The first American was Katie McGregor (Boston, MA), fifth overall, in a time of 15:51 ($1,000).
Carmen Troncoso, 46, impressively running her 15th Freihofer’s Run for Women, won the USA 5k Masters National Championship, emulating her results from 1999, 2000 and 2003. Her time of 17:07 placed her 18th overall and earned her $750. “I had a great run, from beginning to end,” she said. “It was really tough, though”.
Second and third in the master’s division were Debbi Kilpatrick-Morris, 41 (17:10) and Marisa Hanson, 41 (17:27).
“This was a superb display of world-class running from all of our elite runners,” commented Event Director George Regan. “Many great runners have tried to take down our course record and failed. For Asmae to have done it today is a testimony to her and to the caliber of this international field. This was a great day for Albany.”
Event sponsors included the Charles Freihofer Baking Company (a division of George Weston Bakeries Inc.), Price Chopper Supermarkets, B95.5 FM, NewsChannel 13 and The Clarion Hotel of Albany.
1.Asmae Legzhaoui, MOR, 15:18*, $10,000
2.Kim Smith, NZ, 15:41, $5,000
3.Marie Davenport, IRE, 15:45, $2,500
4.Merima Hashim, ETH, 15:49, $1,500
5.Katie McGregor, USA, 15:51, $1,000
6.Leah Malot, KEN, 16:09, $750
7.Nicole Aish, USA, 16:13, $500
8.Laura O’Neill, USA, 16:22, $300
9.Naomi Wangui, KEN, 16:26, $250
10.Yimenashu Taye, ETH, 16:32, $200
* New course record
1. Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, TX, 17:07, $750
2. Debbi Kilpatrick-Morris, OH, 17:10, $600
3. Marisa Hanson, NY, 17:27, $350
4. Doreen McCourbrie, PA, 17:46, $200
5. Monica Joyce, MI, 17:47, $100
Before the gun fired for the start of this morning’s 28th running of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K in downtown Albany, NY, the consensus was that this was Lornah Kiplagat’s race to lose. The 32-year-old Kenyan-born Dutchwoman had proved dominant in almost every race she had run this year, and had taken a silver medal at the super-competitive World Cross Country Championships 8K in Japan in March. At the tape, however, it was Australia’s Benita Johnson who prevailed, her win coming as the culmination of one of the most thrilling competitions in the history of this celebrated road race.
With nine Olympians on the starting line, there was no doubt that this was the finest Freihofer’s field ever assembled. Hopes of an improvement of Asmae Leghzaoui’s 2005 course record (15:18) were dashed, however, by torrential rains that battered New York’s Capital District throughout the night and that continued unabated until after the race had been completed.
“We assembled our greatest field ever,” stated Event Director George Regan, “but there’s nothing we could do about the weather.”
It may have dampened conditions on the starting line, but the rain could do nothing to quench the competitive fire that was evident from the moment the starter, local TV celebrity Benita Zhan, got the field of 3,144 women underway. Characteristically, Kiplagat charged immediately to the forefront, opening a stride lead within the first 400m and 10 meters within the first half-mile. This is the tactic that she has employed to assemble one of the most impressive distance running resumés in the world today. Sometimes, the same old song goes a little out of tune.
Kiplagat may have assumed — or at least, hoped — that an aggressive charge from the line would establish her dominance from the outset and consign the remainder of the field to battle for the minor placings. Often, that works. This time, it didn’t.
Four minutes into the race, Kiplagat held the lead, but immediately in her wake was Johnson, a woman with an impressive resumé of her own, including a gold medal from the 2004 World Cross-Country Championships. Indeed, pre-race predictions held that if anybody in the field could upset the near-omnipotent Dutchwoman, it would be Johnson. Not many believed it would come to pass, but among those who did was the one person who counted – Johnson.
Despite the soggy conditions — pools of water at the sides of the roads prevented the leaders from running the tangents — the first mile was passed in a swift 4:58. Given the uphill first half-mile, any opening mile split under 5:00 on the Freihofer’s course is indicative of some super-aggressive running. Factoring in the watery weather offered additional evidence of precisely how aggressive.
At this stage, this was purely a two-woman race. The chasing pack — including Amy Rudolph (Providence, RI), Dorota Guca (POL), Lineth Chepkirui (KEN), Sally Barsosio (KEN) and course record holder Legzhaoui (MAR) — were 20 meters back and fading. With Kiplagat hammering and Johnson right on her heels, this was solely Holland versus Australia for the $10,000 first prize. Everybody else was an afterthought.
Think again. Natalya Berkut from Ukraine had been mentioned in the pre-race discussions, but largely as a top five contender. A 2004 Olympian at 10,000m and the winner of last year’s Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon, she was a proven quantity, though one running under the radar. The leaders’ sensors picked her right up, though, as she charged through the second mile, closing the gap entirely on the leaders, so that, by mile two (10:06), a two-woman race was suddenly three.
The appearance of the 31-year-old Berkut appeared to hammer the first nail into Kiplagat’s coffin. Neither leader responded perceptibly to the appearance of a new contender, but Kiplagat’s racing persona dictated that she would or should or might. But she didn’t. Johnson, having sat in behind the leader for much of the race, maintained her tactical savvy; she kept doing what she had been doing — sitting and waiting.
With three quarters of a mile remaining, approaching the exit from Washington Park, Kiplagat, surprisingly, began to fall adrift. “The road was too wet,” she later stated. “It was slippery. But there are more races.” At once she lost 10 meters on Johnson and Berkut and, as the leaders turned on to Madison Avenue and the long stretch towards the finish line, once again this was a two-woman race. First and second were ordained; all that remained to be established was the order.
It was only with 200m remaining that the ultimate outcome was decided. “I knew she was faster than me,” Berkut conceded. With the line and $10,000 immediately before her, Johnson fired up the afterburners and decided the result with a panache that enlivened the rain-soaked crowd assembled near the finish. Johnson’s winning time of 15:27 gave her a two second margin over Berkut. Kiplagat placed an isolated third in 15:47.
“I felt good,” understated the newly crowned champion. “The weather didn’t bother me that much. It was a great field. I’m very happy to have won.”
In the masters race, for women aged 40 and over, Freihofer’s legend, Carmen Troncoso (Austin, TX) prevailed yet again, defending the title she won in 2005. Troncoso’s time of 17:11 placed her 19th overall in this, her 15th Albany appearance. In total, it was her fifth victory in the masters competition.
“The weather gods tried to put a dampener on this race, but they just couldn’t,” said George Regan. “At the front of the field we had probably the best race we’ve ever had, and further back in the pack, you could just see how everybody was having a great time. It goes to show that if you put all the right pieces in place, a miserable day in Albany can become a great day for Albany.”
1. Benita Johnson AUS 15:27 $10,000
2. Natalya Berkut UKR 15:29 $5000
3. Lornah Kiplagat NED 15:47 $3000
4. Lineth Chepkurui KEN 15:50 $2000
5. Amy Rudolph Providence, RI 15:50 $1000
6. Dorota Gruca POL 15:52 $750
7. Jemima Jelagat KEN 16:03 $500
8. Maria Khristina Mazilu ROM 16:06 $300
9. Eunice Chepkirui KEN 16:09 $250
10. Nicole Aish CO 16:12 $200
1. Carmen Troncoso TX 17:11 $750
2. Marisa Hanson NY 17:38 $500
3. Ramila Burangulova RUS 17:47 $350
4. Joan Samuelson ME 18:16 $200
5. Charlotte Rizzo NY 18:37 $100
After 29 years of top class competitions, you might think that there are few stories left to tell at the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K, held each year on the streets of Albany, N.Y. But this year’s race featured a nail-biting match-up between the defending champion Benita Johnson from Australia and 2005 winner and course record-holder (15:18) Asmae Leghzaoui from Morocco that will long be remembered as a highlight in the Run for Women’s history.
The competition was made especially intriguing by the fact that neither woman had shown much in the way of world-class form so far this year. In April’s London Marathon, Johnson had cramped up and placed a disappointing 7th, while Leghzaoui, by her own admission, had run no significant races thus far in 2007.
Smarter money, it appeared, would be placed on Ethiopia’s Amane Gobena who had placed second in the Memorial Day Bolder Boulder 10K in Colorado. Or on Teyba Erkesso, also from Ethiopia, who had placed 4th in that same race, and who had set a world record of 51:44 for 10 miles earlier in the year. Ultimately that smart money would have turned out to be not so, as neither Gobena nor Erkesso — nor any of the other top class competitors in this field — could trade strides with Johnson and Leghzaoui once the real racing got under way.
They did give it a shot, though. Once the gun fired to send 3,123 women on their way, a knot of world-class road racers maneuvered their way to the forefront, led by 25-year-old Rose Kosgei from Kenya. Forging a testing early pace, Kosgei, the winner of the 1997 World Junior Cross-Country Championships, brought with her a knot of half a dozen runners, comprising Mara Yamauchi (GBR), Emily Chebet (KEN), Gobena and Erkesse, plus Leghzaoui and Johnson. At one mile, the split read 5:00, evidence that this was going to be a race hard fought to the finish.
Kosgei held the lead, but not for long. Deciding that the rolling hills of Washington Park would be an effective place to inflict some damage, Leghzaoui surged to the forefront shortly after the first mile and began to open daylight. Kosgei immediately lost ground, as did Chebet, Gobena and Erkesse. Johnson, however, spotted the move and closed down the gap just as relentlessly as the Moroccan had opened it. At 3K, they were side by side, and at two miles (10:04) it was evident that this year’s Freihofer’s finish was going to be a thriller in the finest tradition of this race.
The foremost question at that point was, had Leghzaoui exerted too much energy in the early going? As the two leaders exited Washington Park, swinging left onto Madison Avenue for the long drive to the finish line — and momentarily bumping shoulders — it quickly became clear that the answer was “yes.”
The course record holder fought hard, but Johnson’s strength was undeniable. The Australian woman did not inject a startling kick; rather, she increased the tempo, imperceptibly to those on the sidelines, but brutally and efficiently. In the closing 400m, Johnson opened a stunning 10 seconds on Leghzaoui. The winner crossed the finish line in a time of 15:22, five seconds faster than she had in winning here last year, and the third fastest winning time in Freihofer’s history. For the victory, Johnson claimed $10,000.
“I only felt that I was going to win with about 800m to go,” explained the re-crowned champion. “I made a surge on Leghzaoui and opened a gap. When I saw that, I went harder again. The pace was fast from the gun, but I had to be up there if I was going to have a chance of winning. I wanted to win this race to kick start my campaign for the World Championships.”
Johnson will be contesting the 10,000m at the World Track and Field Championships, which take place in Osaka, Japan in August.
For her part, Leghzaoui was satisfied with her second place finish, for which she earned $5000. Following her win in Albany in 2005, the Moroccan had returned in 2006, but placed just 11th. “This weather is very different from home,” she proffered of the temperature, which approached the 80s by the time the race finished. “Here it is hot and very humid. I am happy. This is my first big race of the year.”
Leghzaoui will have a chance to avenge her defeat. She, too, will be contesting the World Championships 10,000m.
The master’s race for women over 40 was almost as hotly contested as the open division. The victory and the $750 prize went to Canadian pro triathlete, Lucy Smith, who covered the distance in 16:32, edging Russia’s Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova by 11 seconds. “This is my first time at Freihofer’s,” Smith said. “I thought I could have run maybe 16:10, but I’m very happy with this.”
Also happy was Freihofer’s Run for Women Event Director George Regan. “Without exaggeration, this is one of the best races we’ve had in our 29 years,” he said. “Well over 3000 starters, a super-fast finish, and a magnificent event from start to finish. This was a great day for the Freihofer’s Run for Women and a great day for Albany.”
Benita Johnson AUS 15:22 $10,000
Asmae Leghzaoui MAR 15:32 $5000
Teyba Erkesso ETH 15:46 $3000
Dire Tune ETH 15:51 $2000
Mara Yamauchi GBR 15:52 $1000
Emily Chebet KEN 15:59 $750
Amane Gobena ETH 16:04 $500
Silvia Skvortsova RUS 16:10 $300
Emily McCabe Durham, NC 16:12 $250
Nataliya Berkut UKR 16:28 $200
Masters (Over 40)
Lucy Smith (40) CAN 16:32 $750
Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova (46) RUS 16:43 $500
Patty Murray (41) Boulder, CO 17:03 $350
Carmen Troncoso (48) Austin, TX 18:00 $200
Beth Ellickson (40) Glendale, AZ 18:14 $100
In winning the 30th edition of the Freihofer’s Run for Women for the third consecutive time, Australia’s Benita Johnson became only the third woman to accomplish that feat in the event’s storied history. (Lynn Jennings, an eight-time winner, and Marla Runyan are the other two). In claiming this year’s win in a time of 15:46, Johnson, 29, turned back the race-long challenge of a powerful Kenyan and Ethiopian contingent and claimed a prize purse in the amount of $10,000. Second place went to Amane Gobena (ETH) in a time of 15:52 ($5,000), with Azizza Aliyu (ETH) winning a very close battle for third in 16:02 ($3,000).
“I didn’t have a plan,” asserted Johnson. “You never know how the race is going to go. The early pace was very slow. And I got a cramp in my leg (at the end) because I had to run the last kilometer so hard. This win was the one that hurt the most. But I really wanted to win three in a row.”
Johnson dedicated the race to her father, who was terminally ill in Australia. She was leaving Albany immediately after the race to return home to be at his side.
“My father is very sick,” she said. “He’s only got a few days. This race was for my Dad. But I can use things in my life as motivation to go forward and to have strength.”
Tragically, moments after finishing the event and calling her family with news of her victory, Johnson learned that her father had died.
The strength that the Australian two-time Olympian and 2004 World Cross-Country champion brought to this race was evident from the outset. Always at the front of the pack, Johnson fronted a large pack through an opening mile of 5:14 with Gobena, Genoveva Kigen (KEN), Jane Gakunyi (KEN), Kathy Butler (GBR), Millicent Gathoni (KEN), Everlyne Lagat (KEN) and a knot of others all holding close.
Approaching two miles, things began to change as Johnson maintained relentless pressure and attrition began to take its toll. The two-mile marker was passed in 10:20, and while Johnson and Gobena raced shoulder to shoulder, daylight had begun to open on the rest of the field. With the contenders reduced to just two, it was clear that it would be only a matter of time before she made her move.
That point came at 4K. Johnson, concerned to avoid a sprint to the finish line, injected an increase in pace that was clearly intended to decide the outcome once and for all. Gobena fought hard to hang on; but Johnson’s strength and tenacity, coupled with her knowledge of this hilly course, were insurmountable and, in the closing downhill half mile, allowed her to turn an inch of daylight into a 16- second advantage.
Freihofer’s is Johnson’s only US race of the season. Following this, her plan was to race a 10,000m on the track in Europe, and then decide if that distance or the marathon will be her focus for the Beijing Olympic Games in August. In Athens in 2004, Johnson placed a disappointing 24th in the 10,000m.
Gobena, 25, held on for an isolated second place, while Azizza Aliyu (ETH), 22, charged through in the closing mile to out-kick the more-favored Gakunyi, a 2004 Olympian at 5,000m, and Gathoni, winner of Monday’s Bolder Boulder 10k. Aliyu and Gakunyi were both timed at 16:02, with Gathoni at 16:03. Respectively, they earned $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000.
The masters’ competition, for women over 40 years of age, went to Paula Wiltse from Brockville, Ontario, who raced to a 17:29 victory. Wiltse’s win — which earned her $750 — defeated Marissa Hanson (17:45), who as Marissa Sutera won this race in 1986. The over-50 division victory went to Joan Samuelson, who as Joan Benoit, won the Olympic Games marathon in 1984. Samuelson’s time of 17:50, was shy of her objective, the 17:28 US record of Shirley Matson, set in 1991.
“Though we were saddened by Benita’s family tragedy, it’s quite plain to see what a tremendous champion and great athlete she is,” commented Freihofer’s Run for Women Event Director George Regan. “Because of her, and because of the 3,385 women who followed her, this was a great day for Albany.”
This year’s 30th edition also included the USATF National Race Walk 10k Open and Junior Championships featuring some of the nation’s top race walkers, several of whom will be Olympic team contenders. Teresa Vaill, 45, of Gainesville, FL, formerly of Pine Plains, N.Y., won the event in a time of 47:50 and took home the $500 first place check. Rounding out the top three were Solomiya Login, 28, of Philadelphia, PA, (51:58; $400) and Lauren Forgues, 20, of Boothbay, ME (52:42; $300).
Event sponsors include the Charles Freihofer Baking Company (a division of George Weston Bakeries Inc.), Price Chopper Supermarkets, The City of Albany, Fox 23 News, B95.5, and host hotel 74 State.
1) Benita Johnson (AUS), 15:46, $10,000
2) Amane Gobena (ETH), 15:52, $5000
3) Azizza Aliyu (ETH), 16:02, $3000
4) Jane Gakunyi (KEN), 16:02, $2000
5) Millicent Gathoni (KEN), 16:03, $1000
6) Florence Jepkosgei (KEN), 16:08, $750
7) Everlyne Lagat (KEN), 16:11, $500
8) Genoveva Kigen (KEN), 16:20, $300
9) Alina Alekseyeva (RUS), 16:23, $250
10) Kathy Butler (GBR), 16:31, $200
Masters (Over 40)
1) Paula Wiltse, 40, CAN, 17:29, $750
2) Marisa Hanson, 44, USA / NY, 17:45, $500
3) Joan Benoit Samuelson, 51, USA / ME, 17:50, $350
4) Laurel Park, 45, USA / MI, 17:58, $200
5) Carmen Troncoso, 49, USA / TX, 18:40, $100
Teyba Erkesso, 26, from Ethiopia won the 31st edition of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K, capturing a $10,000 first prize; but it was only after a down to the wire tussle with her compatriot, Mamitu Daska, 25.
Much of the pre-race speculation centered on Benita Johnson who returned to Albany in an attempt to retain the title she had won in each of the three preceding years. Having not raced at all in the past six months, however, the 30 year-old Australian did not have the sharpness to become only the third women – after Lynn Jennings and Marla Runyan – to win this race four times.
With a record 4028 women going to the starting line, including invited elite competitors from 11 countries (nine of whom were Olympians), it was inevitable that the opening half mile would see a congested knot of runners at the front of the field. Although it had thinned by the time the leaders entered Washington Park and reached the first mile (5:09), even then 10 runners held close formation, with Erkesso and Daska at the leading edge, but with Rose Kosgei (KEN), Millicent Gathoni (KEN), Genoveva Kigen (KEN), Ashu Kasim (ETH), Dulce Rodriguez (MEX), Rene Kalmer (RSA), Mariya Konovalova (RUS) and Johnson all within footsteps of each other.
It was approaching the 1.5 mile marker that Johnson, the defending champion, started to feel the pace. A testing incline shortly before leaving the Park saw her lose a meter on the leading pack and, thereafter, she was never on terms. “I struggled up that first hill,” she stated after finishing sixth in a time of 16:00.
By the time the frontrunners had reached two miles (10:07), the contenders had been pruned still more. At this stage, only four remained – Erkesso, Daska, Kosgei and Kigen – and it was assured that there would be an African winner for only the second time in this race’s history. (Asmae Leghzaoui from Morocco was the first, in 2005).
Into the final mile, it was Erkesso who was the aggressor, despite the fact of having already raced twice in the previous eight days – a 10K in Ottowa on May 23rd and the Bolder Boulder 10K in Colorado on May 25th, both of which she won. Clearly, those outings had drawn no potency from her sting. As Erkesso upped the ante, Kigen and Kosgei were dropped, leaving only Daska with a shot at the victory and one of the largest 5K winner’s prize purses in the country. Once Erkesso decided that it was time to go, however, she dashed her compatriot’s hopes with brutal finality.
That point came with just 400m remaining and the finish line within sight. Erkesso unleashed a long drive for the line that quickly opened five meters, and which had stretched to three seconds by the time she broke the finish line tape. The winner’s time of 15:27 was the equal seventh fastest in race history. Daska finished at 15:30, with Kosgei third in 15:39 and Kigen fourth in 15:41. First American finisher was Tera Moody, 28, from Boulder, CO, who placed 13th in a time of 16:25.
The masters’ race, for women aged 40 and over, was decided by a single second, with Colleen DeReuck (42), the holder of the world record at this distance, edging Ukraine’s Anzhelika Averkova, 16:39 to 16:40.
The race amongst the over-50 was also a nail-biter, though for a different reason. Joan Benoit-Samuelson, a racing legend and the winner of the 1984 Olympic Games women’s marathon, had her sights set on her own US over-50 record of 17:24. Benoit-Samuelson came up just short, though, winning her age-division, but missing the record, with a time of 17:28.
The Freihofer’s Run for Women incorporates a Community Walk and Run for Kids. This year, the USATF national 10K race walk was also part of the schedule. Of special significance was the bid by 2000 Olympian, Tim Seaman (37), from Imperial Beach, CA, to secure his 36th US title. Seaman was successful, turning back the challenge of Allen James, 45, from Sanborn, NY, to cross the line in 42:56 with an advantage of well over two minutes. Teresa Vaill, 46, formerly from Pine Plains, NY, now living in Gainesville, FL, took the women’s title in 46:44.
“In the 31 year history of the Freihofer’s Run for Women, I have to say that this year’s race was one of the very best,” stated race director, George Regan. “We had a gorgeous day, a record turn-out, a super-deep elite field, and a race that went to the wire. What more could you ask? It was a great day for Albany.”
1. Teyba Erkesso (ETH), 15:27, $10,000
2. Mamitu Daska (ETH), 15:30, $5000
3. Rose Kosgei (KEN), 15:39, $3000
4. Genoveva Kigen (KEN), 15:41, $2000
5. Ashu Kasim (ETH), 15:53, $1000
6. Benita Johnson (AUS), 16:00, $750
7. Jane Gakunyi (KEN), 16:07, $500
8. Dulce Rodrigues (MEX), 16:07, $300
9. Millicent Gathoni (KEN), 16:10, $250
10. Rene Kalmer (RSA), 16:14, $200
1. Colleen DeReuck (CO), 16:39, $750
2. Anzhelika Averkova (UKR), 16:40, $500
3. Joan Benoit-Samuelson (ME), Age 52, 17:28, $350
4. Trina Painter (AZ), 17:33, $200
5. Carmen Troncoso (TX), Age 50, 17:43, $100
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)