By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
MANCHESTER, CONN. (26-Nov) — At this morning’s 79th Manchester Road Race here, New England’s most prestigious Thanksgiving Day race, defending women’s champion Diane Nukuri of Burundi prevailed once again in convincing fashion. Some 12,000 runners competed on a seasonally mild and sunny day.
BATES GIVES NUKURI EARLY CHALLENGE
Nukuri, who finish eighth in last month’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon, may have come into today’s race with more tired legs than her competitors, but with far more experience. Today marked the sixth appearance here for the 30-year-old athlete after first running the race back in 2008. She had finished on the podium three times before, and considers Manchester something of a second home.
“I love it here. I might move here,” quipped Nukuri, who lives in Flagstaff, Az., after the race.
After the flat opening mile, the race moves steeply uphill on Highland Street for more than a mile. Organizers placed a stripe in the road just ahead of the two-mile mark, and the first male and female athletes to hit that mark collect an extra $1000. That’s where Nukuri felt her first big challenge. Former Boise State star Emma Bates spurted ahead of Nukuri and Canadian 10,000m record holder Natasha Wodak to pick up the “Queen of the Hill” prime. Seeds of doubt crept into Nukuri’s mind.
“I don’t know what her name is, the girl who got the uphill challenge,” Nukuri said of Bates. “She was strong, and I felt like the girls who were right behind me were still right there. And you know, when you get on top of the hill together, anything can happen.”
But Nukuri knew the big downhill in the third mile was just ahead after the race turned left onto Porter Street. She hadn’t redlined her heart on the climb, and was ready to take full advantage of the downhill. Experience pays.
“That’s what I did last year, exactly the same strategy,” Nukuri said of attacking on the downhill. “I just tried to finish that last two miles. I was thinking, if I could run 5 minutes (per mile) or under maybe they can match it, but that’s pretty fast.”
They couldn’t. Nukuri came to the uphill finish on Main Street with a comfortable margin on both Wodak and Bates. Nukuri was timed in 24:25, her fastest time ever here in six attempts.
“I love it here,” Nukuri said again. “This is one of my favorite races.”
Wodak clinched second in 24:32 and Bates got third in 24:44. Maddie Van Beek (25:04) and Hannah Davidson (25:08) rounded out the top-5 finishers.
More: Discuss this race on our fan forum: Manchester road race results?
*Men’s Recap: Will Geoghegan Takes Down Olympian Donn Cabral To Win 79th Manchester Road Race