Emily Chebet, Mamitu Daska Aiming for Third Title at Freihofer’s Run for Women

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved May 22, 2014

Organizers of the 36th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5-K, to be held Saturday, May 31, in Albany, N.Y., have announced that both Kenyan Emily Chebet and Ethiopian Mamitu Daska will return seeking their third event titles. Chebet, 28, won the race in 2010 and 2013, while Daska claimed the top spot in 2011 and 2012. Chebet owns the course record of 15:12, set when she won four years ago.

“I’m expecting this to be quite a contest,” said longtime event director George Regan in a statement. “This is a tough course and only a handful of women have won Freihofer’s crowns three or more times. Emily and Mamitu are going to have to run a terrific race to earn a spot on that prestigious list.”

Only Lynn Jennings, Marla Runyan and Benita Willis have won the all-women’s race at least three times. Jennings leads the group with a record eight victories in Albany (six over the 5-K distance and two over 10-K, which the event eliminated after the 1991 running). Runyan and Willis each won three times.

Looking at their past winning times, Chebet and Daska are virtually even. Chebet’s winning marks of 15:12 and 15:26 average out to 15:19, while Daska’s first-place times were 15:19 and 15:20.

Daska takes the edge in momentum from recent road racing on American soil, having won the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in Washington, D.C. (52:05) and placed second at both the B.A.A. 5-K in Boston (15:14, a personal best) and at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K in New York City (31:41).

Chebet, the 2013 and 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships gold medalist, was second at the Sportisimo Prague Half-Marathon (1:08:28) and sixth at the World’s Best 10-K in Puerto Rico (32:38). According to the Race Results Weekly’s results database, Chebet has not raced since her half-marathon in Prague on April 5.

Joining Daska and Chebet will be two-time Kenyan Olympian Lucy Kabuu, dropping down in distance from her marathon and 10,000m specialties. Buzunesh Deba, the Bronx-based Ethiopian who has finished runner-up at last month’s Boston Marathon, as well as the 2013 and 2011 TCS New York City Marathons, will toe the line.

Ethiopians Afera Godfay, Zemzem Ahmed, and Genet Beyene; Kenyans Agnes Cheserek and Alice Kamunya; Morocco’s Rkia El Moukim; and South Africa’s Rene and Christine Kalmer, and Nolene Conrad will also vie for a piece of the $28,500 prize purse, of which the winner gets $10,000.  The Kalmer sisters, both of whom have represented South Africa at international competitions, will also participate in the “Sister-Sister” team competition that encourages family members to race.

Amy Van Alstine, fourth place a year ago, leads the previously announced American contingent, which includes Megan Hogan, Michelle Lillenthal, Tera Moody, Stephanie Pezzullo, and Jen Rhines. Melody Fairchild, Joan Samuelson, Sheri Piers, and Poland’s Dorota Gruca are among the event’s strong masters field.

The Freihofer’s Run for Women 5-K is an IAAF Silver Label road race that starts and finishes in the heart of Albany, New York State’s capital city. One of the world’s most prestigious all-women’s races, the event boasted 4245 finishers in 2013. Race Results Weekly will be on hand to provide coverage from this year’s race.

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