2011 USA Half Marathon Championships Recap: Jen Rhines' Return Trumps Serena Burla's
January 29, 2011
Jen Rhines capped her return to the half marathon distance by putting away strong challenges from Serena Burla and Nan Kennard to win the 2011 USATF Half Marathon Title in Houston and $12,000 in 1:11:14.
The thirty-six-year-old Rhines was the credentialed veteran in Saturday's race (she had made 3 Olympic teams, including one in the marathon, while the rest of the field combined had made one). However, despite making the Olympics in 2004 in the marathon, after subpar performances in the longer distances in 2006, Rhines abandoned the longer distances of the half marathon and marathon to return to the track. Until last month, when she won the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon in a 1:14 tune-up, she had stayed away from the long distances on the roads.
How would she fare versus a more competitive field?
She returned in fine form, as her run on Saturday was a personal best. The course in Houston was billed as a preview of the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials course. Rhines, however, made it clear afterwards not to think her recent action in the half marathon means she is returning to the marathon. She mentioned the possibility of running a marathon, but said her plan is to make one more Olympic team on the track.
Runner-up to Rhines was the incredible Serena Burla. Burla was second last year as well, but in the year since has been diagnosed with and beaten synovial sarcoma (cancer in her thigh). Burla was rightfully emotional afterwards in talking about her amazing journey the last year.
Third place was Nan Kennard of Boulder. Kennard, a two time all-American at BYU, has been working with Darren and Colleen De Reuck (US Olympian in the marathon, former World XC medallist) since coming back to running after the birth of her 3 children. If there can be a 29-year-old novice in the field, she was it and perhaps it showed, as she was the one pushing the pace in the middle miles.
But don't take our word on it, we did not see the women's race as we were on the men's truck. Runner's World's Amby Burfoot (a former Boston Marathon champ) has a nice recap of the women's play-by-play. We have results, video of the women's finish, and the post-race press conference below.
|Women's Race Finish
Women's Post Race Press Conference
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