By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
Editor’s note: The initial flash recap by LRC can be found here.
ALEXANDRIA, VA (16-Nov) — On a cold and cloudy morning here, Molly Huddle cemented her status as America’s top road runner, retaining her .US 12-K Championships title and winning the overall USA Road Circuit (USARC) crown with ease. While her win was widely expected, the narrow victory by Brian Shrader of Northern Arizona University in a new American record time came as a total shock in the men’s race, out-sprinting defending champion Aaron Braun and Olympian Diego Estrada. Huddle clocked 38:08 and Shrader 34:11.
RECORD FOURTH ROAD RUNNING TITLE OF 2014 FOR HUDDLE
Although Huddle, 30, who lives and trains in Providence, R.I., ran slower than her world best time set here last year, she nonetheless set an honest pace right from the start at Oronoco Park next to the Potomac River. She was the race leader at 5 km (15:58), but was followed closely by Sara Hall (15:59), Kim Conley and her Providence College training partner Emily Sisson (16:04). Already, the race was going according to plan, she said.
“I wanted to take it out between five and 5:10 (per mile pace), and I felt OK hitting 5:10’s all the way through,” Huddle told Race Results Weekly. “That was about as much as I could do alone.”
Unlike last year when Huddle was matching strides with marathon ace Shalane Flanagan, by 8 km (25:31) she was already alone, up by 13 seconds on Conley, Hall and Sisson who were running together. But Huddle did not want to leave anything to chance, and continued to press: her victory meant an overall payday of $45,000 ($20,000 for the race win plus $25,000 for the overall USARC title).
“I knew Sara was in good shape, and Kim, and I knew Emily –I don’t know if anyone else knew that Emily was in that good a shape. Ideally for me, going one-two was what we wanted to do.”
Sisson, who has NCAA eligibility left for both the 2015 indoor and outdoor seasons, began to ease away from Conley and Hall. Huddle clipped through 10-K in 31:57, with Sisson 10 seconds back and Conley and Hall both at 32:23. Huddle, whose long season began with an indoor 5000m back in early March, upped her tempo in the final two kilometers to win in 38:08. Sisson came home second (38:21) followed by Conley (38:42) and Hall (38:48).
With today’s victory, Huddle became the first-ever American woman to claim four national road running titles in one year, part of a dream season where she also won the national 5000m title, broke her own American record at that distance (14:42.64), ran the world-leading time for 5000m indoors (15:13.86), set the American 10 km road running record for an all-women’s race (31:37), and ran the fastest half-marathon by an American woman this year (1:09:04). For grins, she also ran the second-fastest mile in the world for 2014: 4:26.84.
“I’m very fortunate,” Huddle said of her best-ever season. “I mean, even just a season where you don’t get hurt or sick or anything is a lucky season. So, to tick off all the PR’s I was hoping to run, then a few big road wins I wasn’t expecting, was just really great. I hope I can take this momentum into next year.”
COLLEGIAN SHRADER OVERWHELMS PRO MEN
The men’s race had only one leader for 99% of the distance: defending champion Aaron Braun. The 27 year-old from Alamosa, Colo., was the strongest athlete in the field, and everyone else was content to let him set the pace.
“The first few miles were a little slower than I wanted it to be,” Braun told Race Results Weekly. “I wanted it to be, like, 4:35/4:40. But, that’s where I felt most comfortable.”
Wearing a warm hat to fight off the cold, Braun towed a huge lead pack of 21 men through the 5 km mark in 14:37. To Braun’s right, wearing a white “NAU” singlet, was Shrader, along with Mexican Olympian (now a USA citizen), Diego Estrada, and USARC points leader Christo Landry among others. Off of a 4:45 first mile, which is uphill, Braun was slowly ramping up the pace to whittle down the lead pack.
“If someone had been kind of running with me, maybe I could have run a little faster,” Braun explained. “But, I didn’t want to be too restless when I was the only one in front.”
Remarkably, 13 men were still in contention at 8 km, despite a very honest split of 23:11. Braun wasn’t paying attention to any one in particular, but was watching the clock. He needed to make the race faster and burn off as many people as possible before the final kilometer.
“The fourth mile was, like, 4:25, and after that I was like, hopefully that will do a little damage. It didn’t seem to do as much as I thought it would,” Braun lamented.
Shrader had no particular plan. He was just trying to stay with the leaders on the long final straightaway on South Union Street before the finish. All he knew was that he had the fitness to contend.
“I knew I was in good shape,” he told Race Results Weekly. “I tried to stick my nose in it and I got it in the end.”
In the final 200 meters, Shrader pulled away easily from Braun and Estrada to win in a new USA record of 31:11 (34:10.1). Estrada got the best of Braun to finish second (34:12), and Braun got third (34:14).
“I’m really speechless,” a stunned Shrader said right after his victory.
Because he has NCAA eligibility remaining, Shrader can’t accept the full $20,000 in prize money and still compete for Northern Arizona on the track in the spring. Under present NCAA rules, he is only able to accept prize money up to the expenses he incurred to participate in the race (the same applies to Emily Sisson in the women’s race).
Finishing back in 8th place was Christo Landry who won the overall USARC points title (he had an insurmountable lead prior to the start). Looking slightly deflated, he was nonetheless happy to take the overall crown and the $25,000 season-ending bonus.
“I’m happy with it,” he told Race Results Weekly. “I ran the same time as last year and I’m four places back! It’s nice to meet one of your goals going into the season. I’m very happy with this year.”
The USATF press release also had a quote from Shrader where he said, “I’m pretty speechless. I just tried to stay in contention with guys like Diego and Aaron. I think I just got lucky at the end. I have indoor eligibility left (at Northern Arizona), so that’s what is next for me. I’ve never even made NCAA Outdoors before, so I’m still kind of in shock about today. I haven’t won a race in a while. Never run a 10K or a 12K before.”
Women’s Elite Results:
Men’s Elite Results: