Molly Huddle Sets 12-K World Best – Wins Inaugural .US Road Running Championships

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Huddle disptached Shalane Flanagan late as both runners beat Lineth Chepkurui’s World Best

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (17-Nov) — Ten kilometers into the 12-K .US Road Running Championships here this morning, time seemed to stand still for Molly Huddle and Shalane Flanagan. Their ponytails bobbing behind them, the two national record-holders ran side by side through the quiet streets of this picturesque Washington, D.C. suburb. Eyes always focused ahead, they almost seemed frozen in place.

But their pace was anything but glacial. Alerted the day before about Deena Kastor‘s American record of 38:24, the pair saw a rare opportunity to set a national record in a national championships on the final day of their competitive seasons. After leaving the rest of the field far behind while flying through the first 5-K in 15:42, Flanagan led by half a stride and knew it was going to be a special day.

“I thought, if we keep this up it’s really fast,” Flanagan told Race Results Weekly after the race. “Whoever can hang tough and keep this pace up, will run really fast.”

Indeed. Huddle and Flanagan ran just over three minutes per kilometer for the final 2-K, notching the two fastest 12-K road running performances in history: 37:50 for Huddle and 37:58 for Flanagan. Not only did they shatter Kastor’s record, but also Lineth Chepkurui‘s Association of Road Running Statisticians’ world record of 38:10 from the Lilac Bloomsday Run in 2010 (the IAAF does not ratify 12-K world records).

In essence, the race for the $20,000 winner’s check was only two kilometers long. After the 10-K mark, a nervous waiting game began as they made the right turn onto the long straightaway on Fairfax Street in the 11th kilometer. They knew they were going to get Kastor’s record, but who should make the first move for the win?

“I just didn’t know how much Molly had left because it’s an unknown distance for her,” Flanagan explained. “For me, I’m rounding into shape; I really didn’t know how fit I was.”

Molly Huddle (l.) and Shalane Flanagan at the 7 km mark. Photo by David Monti.

Molly Huddle (l.) and Shalane Flanagan at the 7 km mark. Photo by David Monti.

In the 11th kilometer, Huddle put in two surges to test Flanagan, and she covered both of them. But after turning left for the short downhill on Gibbon Street just before the finish straight, Huddle hit the gas, hard, and opened up her first serious lead. Before that point she had been holding back.

“I was trying to save a little bit in case Shalane dropped a hard mile,” Huddle said. “I knew the race would start with maybe two miles to go. I felt pretty within myself. But, like Shalane said, 12-K is kind of an unusual distance for me so I didn’t know if the bottom would drop out at any point.”

It didn’t. With the early morning sun reflecting off of the Potomac River on her right, Huddle eased away from Flanagan in the final 300 meters on North Union Street. Not only did she win the race, but her victory gave her 45 USA Running Circuit points, assuring her of the overall series title and an additional $6000. It was Huddle’s second national road running title this year; she also won the 5-K last September.

Both Huddle and Flanagan acknowledged that their fast times today were only possible because they had run together and pushed each other. Their mutual admiration was readily evident, and they were clearly enjoying themselves.

“I’m taking some credit for Molly’s record,” Flanagan teased. “I was a good rabbit for her.”

Behind them Laura Thweatt put in a strong performance to take third in 39:15. The former Colorado Buffalo said it was the best race of her nascent pro career.

“That was my breakout race,” she said beaming. “I’m so happy.”

Olympian Kim Conley finished fourth in 39:29, and Kellyn Johnson rounded out the top-5 in 39:48. The USA Running Circuit points leader prior to the race, Mattie Suver finished 16th. A total of 25 women completed the race out of 26 starters; Lindsey Scherf was the only dropout.

Quick takes and race results appear below. Check back later for a photo gallery. Message board thread on race here. A race replay of the Internet broadcast will be available at later today.

Quick Takes added by

Quick Take #1: The weather today was truly basically perfect for a road race here in Alexandria, VA. Temps in the 50s with zero wind and Huddle and Flanagan certainly took advantage of it and ran really fast. We don’t know if an official 10k split exists but heard they went through the 10,000 in the 31:30s which make sense as evenly split Huddle’s time comes out to 31:38 for 10,000.  That’s quite good.

On the track in 2013, Flanagan leds the US women’s 10,000 list in 2013 at 31:04 with Jordan Hasay second at 31:46. Today both Flanagan and Huddle were faster than Hasay and ran 20% farther.

Quick Take #2: Our post race interview with Huddle is embedded on the right. We asked her both her thoughts on 2013 and her plans for 2014. Looking towards next year, a track 10,000 debut in 2014 seems likely and she’s hoping to lower her 5000 American record. Off camera, she said she’s hoping to make her half-marathon debut in Houston early in 2014 if everything goes well.

Quick Take #3: While a World’s Best, please realize women have run faster for 12k before. Mary Keitany‘s half-marathon world record (21.1 km) of 65:50 would put her going through 12k if evenly paced in 37:26.7.

Top 25 Results

Women’s Results:

Prize Money
1Molly Huddle4300:37:5005:05Providence, RI29$20,000
2Shalane Flanagan3100:37:5805:06Portland, OR32$10,000
3Laura Thweatt8800:39:1505:16Boulder, CO24$7500
4Kim Conley2200:39:2905:18West Sacramento, CA27$5000
5Kellyn Johnson4600:39:4805:21Flagstaff, AZ27$3000
6Sara Hall3800:39:5405:21Flagstaff, AZ30$2000
7Brianne Nelson6500:40:1205:24Golden, CO33$1000
8Anne Bersagel900:40:2705:26Victoria, MN30$750
9Meghan Peyton6900:40:3205:27Minneapolis, MN27$500
10Katie Matthews5800:40:3305:27Rocky Hill, CT22$250
11Caitlin Comfort2100:40:3705:27Madison, WI24
12Kristin Swisher91500:40:4105:28Alexandria, VA30
13Lauren Jimison4500:40:4205:28El Dorado Hills, CA23
14Kerri Gallagher10200:40:5905:30Arlington, VA24
15Wendy Thomas8700:41:0505:31Windsor, CO34
16Mattie Suver8400:41:1705:33Colorado Springs, CO26
17Blake Russell10500:41:2305:33Pacific Grove, CA38
18Kelly Brinkman1400:41:3105:35Minneapolis, MN32
19Elizabeth Maloy10300:41:3305:35Washington, DC28
20Renee Tomlin8900:41:4305:36Ocean City, NJ24
21Kirsten Kasper91600:41:4705:37Washington, DC22
22Kayleigh Tyerman91300:41:4805:37Tallahassee, FL22
23Rachel McFarlane10700:41:5405:38Lansing, MI23
24Atalelech Asfaw500:41:5805:38Albuquerque, NM30
25Esther Erb2900:42:0205:39Lambertville, NJ27