Out of Fog, Molly Huddle and Ben Bruce Win Inaugural Bay Area Cross Challenge

By Sam Grotewold, NYRR
January 16, 2011
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly

SAN FRANCISCO (16-Jan) -- Under a blanket of typical San Francisco fog that faded throughout the morning but never completely went away, American 5000-meter record-holder Molly Huddle and Ben Bruce of the Oregon Track Club won the women's and men's races, respectively, at the Bay Area Cross Challenge, a new event organized by the Bay Area Track Club and sponsored by New York Road Runners.  The event gave athletes a tune-up opportunity before the USA Cross Country Championships on February 5 in San Diego.

Huddle, who has been training in the warmth of Arizona since the beginning of 2011, seized the lead in the opening strides and ran alone on her three circuits of the 2 km loop around Golden Gate Park's Polo Fields, winning the 6-K race in 19:19.  For Huddle, whose 19th place finish helped Team USA to the bronze medal at the 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, the meet was a perfect opportunity to test her fitness before the USA Championships in three weeks' time.

"I wanted to get a race in around now, and this was an easy trip from where I'm training [in Tucson]," said Huddle who lives in Providence, R.I.  "I think the USA Championships will be a little faster, so I still have some sharpening to do.

Following Huddle were reigning USA indoor 3000-meter champion Renee Baillie (19:31) and 2008 Olympian Magdalena Lewy Boulet (19:32).  Lewy Boulet, who lives in nearby Oakland, is a member of the Bay Area Track Club was also part of the meet organizing committee.

In contrast to Huddle's relatively easy victory, the men's 8 km race was only decided in the final centimeters.  Steeplechaser Jon Pierce, who attended college at nearby Stanford University and now trains with the Mammoth Track Club under coach Terrence Mahon, led the race through halfway before beginning to fade.  The lead was quickly assumed by three-time World Cross Country team member Max King, with Bruce and his Oregon Track Club teammate Kevin Chelimo.  Although Bruce had a one-step lead when the group disappeared from view on the ultimate lap, the trio turned onto the 300 meter finish straight side-by-side, with no indication of who might win.  Sprinting at top speed through a particularly muddy patch 200 meters from the finish, Chelimo inched ahead of his rivals, but King and Bruce quickly pulled even.  It was not until the final three meters that Bruce edged ahead just enough to be given the win after a lengthy review of the finish line photo.  All three athletes were given the same finishing time of 23:12, and Bruce's margin of victory over runner-up Chelimo was .07 seconds.  Like Huddle, he picked up $2,000 for winning the race, part of a $9,000 total prize money purse.

Bruce, who didn't know he had won until well after he had crossed the finish line, was motivated by a similar experience that didn't go his way a few months ago.  "I thought I had it won at the USA 5-K Championships last fall, and [Robert Cheseret] got by me in the last 10 meters, so I just wanted to keep driving and not celebrate until I hit the tape," the steeplechaser said.  A San Diego native, Bruce will look to qualify for his second consecutive World Cross Country Championships team in his hometown next month.

Nobody was more satisfied after the meet than 2009 World Championships 1500-meter bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury, who along with three-time USA Champion David Torrence and 2000 Olympian Bolota Asmerom led the organization of the event.

"We knew it was going to be a lot of work going into organizing this meet, but I've been really amazed by the energy, talent and work ethic of my teammates at the Bay Area Track Club in putting this meet on," she said.  Rowbury, who ran many cross country races on this same Golden Gate Park circuit during her high school career, is still in early training mode for her 2011 track season and did not compete.

The meet recorded 109 total finishers in the junior, women's and men's races.

Note: Sam Grotewold, is the Elite Athlete Coordinator for the NYRR

*Full Results here

Men's Top Results

1 411 BEN BRUCE   M8k M NIKE OREGON TRA 23:12 4:40
  2 413 KEVIN CHELIMO   M8k M NIKE OREGON TRA 23:12 4:40
  3 417 MAX KING   M8k M 23:12 4:40
  4 420 JON PIERCE 27 M8k M ASICS 23:49 4:48
  5 421 PHILLIP REID   M8k M ASICS AGGIES RU 23:55 4:49
  6 422 JACQUES SALLBERG   M8k 23:57 4:50
  7 423 STEPHAN SHAY   M8k M SAUCONY 24:08 4:52
  8 425 DAVID TORRENCE 25 M8k M NIKE 24:12 4:52
  9 405 COLE ATKINS 24 M8k M ZAP FITNESS/REE 24:14 4:53
  10 415 JOE DRISCOLL 31 M8k M ZAP FITNESS 24:19 4:54
  11 412 BOAZ CHEBOIYWO 32 M8k M NIKE 24:22 4:54
  12 404 BOLOTA ASMEROM 32 M8k M SAUCONY/ BATC 24:30 4:56
  13 402 MARCO ANZURES 22 M8k M MCMILLAN ELITE 24:35 4:57
  14 424 DANIEL TAPIA   M8k M ADIDAS TRANSPOR 24:54 5:01
  15 105 GILIAT GHEBRAY   M8k M TEAM PENSKE 24:57 5:02

Women's Top Results

1 416 MOLLY HUDDLE   W6k F SAUCONY 19:19 5:11
  2 406 RENEE BAILLIE 29 W6k F NIKE 19:31 5:14
  3 410 MAGDALENA BOULET   W6k F SAUCONY 19:32 5:15
  4 418 ALISSA MCKAIG 24 W6k F ZAP FITNESS/REE 19:33 5:15
  5 428 REILLY KIERNAN   w6k F NYAC 19:49 5:19
  6 409 NICOLE BLOOD   W6k F NIKE OREGON TRA 20:11 5:25
  9 150 KATE NIEHAUS 22 W6k F 20:44 5:34
  10 131 ALEXA GLENCER 22 W6k F IMPALA 20:49 5:35
  11 173 KAITLIN GREGG 23 W6k F NEW BALANCE SIL 20:54 5:37
  12 113 TERESA MCWALTERS 26 W6k F IMPALA RACING T 20:55 5:37
  13 123 STEFANIE SLEKIS 22 W6k F SUN ELITE 20:59 5:38
  14 179 LINDSEY SCHERF   W6k F 21:02 5:39



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