Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Abdirahman as Hot as the Twin Cities Weather
ST. PAUL, Minn. - (October 7, 2007) - Abdi Abdirahman, the two-time Olympian from Tucson, Ariz., confirmed his status as a favorite for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials with a strong win at the USA Men's 10 Mile Championship held in conjunction with the Medtronic TC 10 Mile on Sunday morning.
Abdirahman, who won his third straight national 10 mile title and $10,000, clocked a course-record of 47 minutes, 34 seconds to out-last Minnesota favorite-son Jason Lehmkuhle, the national runner-up at 47:48. James Carney ran a well-paced effort to take third in 48:03.
Olympian Dan Browne, who won the 2002 Twin Cities Marathon over some of the same roads, finished 21st after running near the front through five miles.
The race was contested in unseasonably warm conditions and high humidity. The race started under 72 degree skies with 87% humidity and a 68 degree dew point.
Abdirahman, 30, admitted he felt the heat in his commanding performance.
"I didn't expect this to be this bad," the reigning USA 10,000 meter and 10K champ said. "It was horrible. It's one of those things, you can't control the weather. It's out of our hands. I was on good pace for five or six or seven miles but then it just got worse and worse."
After a careful first mile of 4:42 on the winding, redesigned miles of the route necessitated by the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in August and a not-as-fast-as-it-looks 4:31 down the steeply descending second mile, Abdirahman split the significantly climbing third mile in 4:34, putting ten meters between himself and Browne and Lehmkuhle in the process. Abdirahman followed the move with a 4:40 fourth mile and was clear by 50 meters when he hit 5 miles in 23:18.
"I don't like the downhills that much," Abdirahman said, "so I just wanted to be careful. That downhill's so fast. I figured I'm going to wait until the second or third mile. I love hills, I'm good at hills."
The heat or humidity or hills, though, took a toll from the Somali-born American. He ran the second half of the race a minute slower than the first, but was never threatened by the strong running Lehmkuhle.
"I wasn't struggling," he offered. "I was running strong. The best part of the race was the second half, I think, because I felt the strongest. But sometimes the conditions really won't allow you to run fast."
Lehmkuhle, who finish third in September's USA 20K Championship, gained a measure of redemption on his home-town course after crashing badly in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon last year.
"I didn't think there was any chance I'd be second in this field," the Team USA Minnesota member said. "I thought on a good day I could slip under 48 minutes, so I exceeded my expectations on both accounts. Obviously, the weather's not perfect today, so getting under 48 minutes on kind of a rough day and get second - it's great."
"Hopefully, it just means I'm not too sharp right now for the Trials in a month," he added. "I've had some good tune-up races in previous build-ups and then the actual marathon hasn't gone well. I haven't decided if I'm nervous about that or not."
As with Lehmkuhle and much of the rest of the field, Abdirahman couldn't help but look ahead to the marathon trials in New York City on Saturday, November 3.
"I've just got to go back home and get ready for the big one!"
Asked if his 1:00:29 half-marathon in August - where he finished second to Haile Gebreselassie - and today's USA 10 Mile title made him the favorite in four weeks at the Olympic Trials, the affable Abdirahman turned the questions around.
"I don't know," he smiled, "you tell me."
Kristen Nicolini, Lehmkuhle's wife, picked up the win in the women's non-championship race in 56:26.
In the 26th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Mykola Antonenko of Ukraine and Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia won titles. Antonenko defied the conditions running 2:13:54. Runner-up Joseph Mutinda of Kenya was a distant second in 2:20:12. 2004 Twin Cities champ Augustus Kuvutu Mbusya was third (2:21:13).
Ponomarenko clocked 2:34:09 for her win, while Alena Vinitskaya of Belarus was second in 2:38:23 and marathon debutante Sharon Cherop of Kenya was third (2:38:45).
At the USA Masters Marathon Championship held in conjunction with the race, Susan Loken of Phoenix won her third straight title clocking 2:48:36. Tracy Lokken of Marquette, Michigan won the masters men's title, his first, in 2:29:00.
9th Medtronic TC 10 Mile:
USA Men's Championship
1) Abdi Abdirahman (AZ), 47:34, $10,000
Complete race results at: MTCMarathon.org