Where Your Dreams Become Reality
USA Men's 10km Championships: Abdi Wins US Title, 2nd Overall at Peachtree
over the past few years, American men haven"t made a strong Independence
Day impact upon The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race
in the challenging heat of the Georgian summer. But Arizonan Abdi
Abdirahman, Californian Ryan Hall, Virginian Ed Moran
and many other Americans, on hand for the USA Men"s 10 km Championship
held in conjunction with the event, made sure the perennially formidable
foreign contingent felt their presence.
Traditionally Africans have fared well over the hilly course passing from Lenox Square to Piedmont Park in Atlanta. This year was no exception, with Kenyan Martin Irungu winning the outright title in 28:01.
July 4th is America"s Independence Day. Abdirahman was
about to claim the U.S.A. Men"s 10km Championship with 28:12, although
that wasn"t the three-time U.S. 10,000m track champion"s focus.
"My main goal wasn"t to win the U.S. title. It was to win the whole
thing," he would say afterwards. "I tried."
did try. He came oh-so-close to carrying the day for the red, white
and blue. However, Kenyan Irungu wouldn"t have it, and early on the
scenario appeared just like the many years when Africans prevail, challenging
the Americans to chase them through the cheering curbside enthusiasts
before their Independence Day barbecues and fireworks.
Kenyan Irungu, who competes for Suzuki and lives in the Shizuoka Province of Japan, remains one of the top males competing over the 10,000m distance in the Pacific Island empire. With a personal best of 27:08, he attacked the Peachtree course with a series of 4:24-4:26 opening miles as if it was a flat 10,000m track.
Irungu, Abdirahman hovered in fourth for the downhill sections. Yet
the man, who trains in Tucson"s summer heat that sometimes reaches
more than 100 degrees, likes hills and between the 3 to 5 mile mark
gradually passed Kenyans Peter Kamais, Boaz Cheboiywo
and Nicholas Kamakya on the climbs and noisiest portions of the
thought it would be tough to catch the guys," explained Abdirahman,
"but I"m a strong hill runner, even though I didn"t know how many
I could catch."
Abdirahman drew up alongside the Kenyan leader beyond mile five and
the crest of the hills, a huge juggernaut of Americans, including U.S.
20K and half marathon record holder Ryan Hall, was giving it their best
July 4th effort. They were rolling about 200m behind the
leaders when Hall, like a late series of aerial bombs in a fireworks
display, suddenly began to explode from the pack. "I was just kind
of waiting to play it conservative," Hall said after signing a quick
autograph for the shirtless Georgia State admirer who led the first
200m of the race, "because I knew it was a challenging course and
I knew some of the guys would go out too hard. I wanted to give myself
a shot to win."
when they turned the 10th Street corner to descend the final
half mile into the park, Irungu and Abdirahman both knew it was time
for early shooting stars.
wanted to help each other," Abdirahman said of his adversary. "But
when we had the downhill, I knew the race began now."
was well aware of who the American was. "I know Abdi is very strong,"
Irungu smiled afterwards, "so I had to do my best to run with him."
was to be no running together, however, as the Kenyan with the faster
personal best for the distance opened up 11 seconds on U.S. titlist
and second-placer Abdirahman.
target was to run 27-zero-zero," Irungu added, but…"
was more philosophical about his runner-up and U.S.A. Men"s 10km Championship
title effort. "He was a better man today," he said. "That"s
the sport. You win some, you lose some."
Abdirahman"s 28:12 and Kenyan-from-Santa Fe"s Nicholas Kamakya"s
28:20, was Kenyan Boaz Cheboiywo"s 28:26.
mark was an important accomplishment for Michigan resident Cheboiwyo,
who has lived in the USA for seven years. Cheboiywo was turned down
for citizenship after only four years of residence. Yet now, although
having missed out on double dipping in prize money had he been a citizen,
the Kenyan hopes with letters from USATF president Craig Masback and
a Michigan congressman to succeed in his quest for a treasured blue
those four, Hall really made the second half count, passing many on
the way to a fifth-overall and second-U.S-finisher 28:35. The fastest
U.S. first-time marathoner, even though from high school onward used
to being in front while racing, attributed his successful coming-from-behind
approach to the Olympic marathon gold medalist from Italy."I was thinking
about Baldini and how he runs," Hall related. "I learned a lot in
London. I thought, ‘I"ve got to be smart like him, without being
the women"s race Ethiopian Wude Ayalew and Kenyan Alice
Timbilil started fast and continued to 31:44 and 31:48 1st
and 2nd placings. Yet Team USA Minnesotan Katie McGregor,
prepping for the IAAF World Champs 10,000m in Osaka, was third in 32:41,
and U.S. 1500m finalist Sara Hall, originally in Atlanta just
to support husband Ryan, finished an unexpected fourth in 32:58.
in all, the Americans began their Independence Day with spirit.
came out last year and had a good time, so I wanted to come out this
year just to have fun," Katie McGregor responded of her Peachtree
participation. "It"s nice to have the U.S. Champs, too. It"s just
great to be a part of a big event. What are you going to do on July
4th but run a 10K in the heat and humidity?"
sporting approach was echoed by other Americans.
for one, was looking forward to taking it easy. "It was fun," he
answered when asked about running Peachtree and the U.S.A. Men"s 10km
Championship on Independence Day. "It was amazing to see all the people.
I"ve always wanted to run Peachtree. And now I"m going to celebrate
the rest of the day."