Kim Conley, one of the women still in need of the Olympic A, immediately surged to the front and the pace seemed honest through 200 meters and brought the field through 400 in 73.5. After 400, Alisha Williams (also in need of the A), then took the lead...they had a five meter lead on Molly Huddle at 600 meters.
Williams led a 75.8 second lap and the pack had regained contact. Pre-race favorites Julia Lucas and Molly Huddle lurked in third and fourth as the field went through 1000 in 3:07.33, too slow for the A standard.
Conley took back over at 1200 and they were still running 75s...honest enough to lead comfortably while still keeping 15:20 in play. A 74.5 fourth lap brought them through in 4:58.8 at 1600. Everyone was still in the hunt.
Soon after the mile, Williams took control again. 2K was hit in 6:13.1 so the second kilo was right around 3:06.
Conley took the lead again and now Huddle moved into second with Julie Culley in third, Williams in fourth and Kellyn Johnson in fifth. As they hit halfway, everyone was still in the hunt, with no one dropped.
Huddle moved up to Conley’s shoulder as things slowed heading into 2800 with a 77.5.
3K was hit in 9:22.9 for a 3:09 1000. Roughly 4:46 mile pace the rest of the way would insure 15:20.
Huddle took the lead at 3200 as they went through in 10:00.0 and now the racing seemed ready to begin. (With a mile to go, Lauren Fleshman’s gallant attempt seemed ended as she got dropped).
As they hit three to go, Julia Lucas made a big play for the lead, opening op a five meter gap on Huddle, Culley, Conley, Liz Maloy, Lisa Uhl and Abbey D’Agostino and Emily Infeld.
At 4K, Lucas had thrown in a 69.6 to get to 12:22.6 for a 3:00 1K. Huddle led the chase pack and she and Culley now had a five meter gap on D’Agostino. With 600 to go, D’Agostino separated from Conley and INfeld and Maloy to case down Cuelly and Huddle.
But with a lap to go the team seemed set: Lucas, then a fast closing Huddle and Culley.
All of a sudden Lucas seemed in big trouble in third. Would she get caught?
It was an absolutely stunning final 50 meters as it first seemed as if D’Agostino would catch a suddenly faltering Lucas, who had run an incredibly brave final three laps. But then it was Conley coming back with a 65.55 final lap who stormed out of nowhere to at first catch D’Agostino and then catch Lucas at the line.
Culley was the surprise winner with Huddle second as both made their first Olympic teams. But the drama was for the third spot and Conley edged Lucas by a mere .04.
In the end, the first five all bettered the A standard as D’Agostino ran a remarkable race to finish in 15:19.98.
Kudos to Lucas for her drive for the win in the last 1200. Kudos also to Conley, who did much of the work early to insure an honest pace before her amazing final lap to claim the final spot.
74.5 (Conley - 4:58.8)
75.2 (Huddle - 10:00.0, 5:01.2)
33.0 (Culley - 15:13.77)
1 Julie Culley Asics/N Y A C 15:13.77
2 Molly Huddle Saucony 15:14.40
3 Kim Conley New Balance/SRA Elite 15:19.79
4 Julia Lucas Nike / Oregon TC Elite 15:19.83
5 Abbey D'Agostino Unattached 15:19.98
6 Lisa Uhl Nike / Oregon TC Elite 15:24.17
7 Elizabeth Maloy New Balance 15:24.85
8 Emily Infeld Georgetown 15:28.60
9 Alisha Williams Boulder Running Company/adidas 15:32.98
10 Tara Erdmann Unattached 15:33.96
11 Magdalena Lewy Boulet Saucony 15:34.31
12 Emily Sisson Unattached 15:34.68
13 Deborah Maier Unattached 15:37.56
14 Kellyn Johnson adidas/McMillan Elite 15:39.60
15 Kathy Kroeger Stanford 15:40.55
16 Lauren Fleshman Nike / Oregon TC Elite 15:54.14