Alicia Monson and Edwin Kurgat Win 2022 Sound Running FitnessBank Cross Champs
Monson Caps Year with Win, Kurgat Shows He’s Back
By Weldon Johnson
December 1, 2022
AUSTIN — In case you forgot, Alicia Monson and Edwin Kurgat reminded you they are very good cross country runners as they were the winners of the 2022 Sound Running FitnessBank Cross Champs here in Austin, Tex. The On Athletics Club men dominated to win the men’s team title and Puma Elite edged Hanson Brooks for the women’s title. The race was the only US stop on the 2022-23 World Athletics Cross Country Tour.
Monson Caps a Tremendous 2022
Very few probably needed a reminder that Monson is a great cross country runner after her fabulous 2022 campaign. She started the year by winning the 2022 USATF Cross Country Championships in San Diego and would go on to make the World Championship team at 10,000m, run 14:31 for 5000m, and run 8:26.81 for 3000 to nearly win the Lausanne Diamond League versus a stacked field.
On the 8km narrow cross country course that featured five loops, varied terrain, hay bales, and a water barrier, Monson was content to bide her time as the lead pack whittled down loop by loop. After one loop, seven women were in contention for the lead, after two loops it was six and after three loops it was down to three: Monson, 2015 World 10,000m bronze medallist Emily Infeld, and 2017 NCAA XC champ Ednah Kurgat. With a loop to go, Kurgat was falling off the back, leaving Monson and Infeld to battle for the win.
Monson started pulling away during the final half of the loop and made it certain during the final 300m of the race, which finished on the track at St. Stephen’s School. She got the win as Infeld was second and Kurgat third. Fiona O’Keeffe of Puma Elite got 4th over Jessie Cardin of Hanson-Brooks in 5th and that helped carry Puma Elite to a two-point victory over Hanson Brooks, with the top four from each team scoring points (there were only two women’s teams and 26 women’s entrants). *Results
1 Alicia Monson (USA) 26:56
2 Emily Infeld (USA) 27:02
3 Ednah Kurgat (USA) 27:10
4 Fiona O’Keeffe (USA) 27:20
5 Jessie Cardin (USA) 27:35
6 Courtney Wayment (USA) 27:36
7 Taylor Werner (USA) 27:45
8 Natosha Rogers (USA) 27:52
9 Sintayehu Vissa (ITA) 27:52
10 Allie Buchalski (USA) 27:53
(More analysis and video interviews at bottom)
2019 NCAA XC Champ Edwin Kurgat is Baaack
In the men’s race, Commonwealth Games 1500m champion Ollie Hoare opened up a lead in the first 100m as 69 runners wanted to get out fast to try to fit through a fairly narrow opening on a fence just 150 meters into the race. Hoare would extend his lead and opened up a six-second lead after one lap over noted front-runner Wesley Kiptoo, who now runs for HOKA NAZ Elite. Hoare’s On Athletics Club teammates also ran aggressively throughout the race, and in the end, the OAC would put all four of its scorers in front of the first runner for the runner-up team, HOKA NAZ Elite. OAC went 2-3-4-5 (and 8-9 in non-scoring positions) as NAZ Elite went 6-7-13-21.
However, the individual title was in doubt until the final lap.
Facing a strong field that included three NCAA XC champs (Kurgat, Morgan McDonald, and Pat Tiernan), it seemed unlikely that Hoare’s lead would last throughout. Hoare managed to stay ahead until the fourth loop when Kiptoo and Kurgat caught him. With a lap to go, Kurgat and Kiptoo were starting to pull away from Hoare with Yared Nuguse attempting to make a move from further back. On the final lap, Kurgat pulled away from a fading Kiptoo, who would finish sixth, as Nuguse overtook Hoare for second, but could not make it a battle for the win. The unsponsored Kurgat got the win by three seconds over Nuguse and showed he is back in good form in only his second race of the year.
Kurgat won the 2019 NCAA XC Championships, and then, after the 2020 COVID year, injured his Achilles in 2021. He took his time coming back from the injury and has been serving as the assistant coach at Iowa State under his coach Jeremy Sudbury. Kurgat wore a “Suds Squad” singlet today as a tribute to his coach. One of Kurgat’s goals was to run well and remind people of his potential as a pro runner. Mission accomplished.
(Video below top results)
1 Edwin Kurgat (KEN) 23:28
2 Yared Nuguse (USA) 23:31
3 Oliver Hoare (AUS) 23:33
4 Morgan McDonald (AUS) 23:43
5 George Beamish (NZL) 23:43
6 Wesley Kiptoo (KEN) 23:45
7 Olin Hacker (USA) 23:47
8 Joe Klecker (USA) 23:48
9 Mario Garcia (ESP) 23:56
10 Andrew Colley (USA) 23:57
Alicia Monson: “2022 was great for me”
Alicia Monson started her year by winning the USATF Cross Country Championships and ended it by winning the Cross Champs. In between she set PRs from 3000 to 10,000 and nearly won a Diamond League 3000. Looking back on the year, she was pleased.
“2022 was great for me. I learned a lot of things. I definitely made some mistakes and I definitely made some leaps and bounds. Now that I have a little more experience [I’m] really looking at what can I do next, what can I do on the world level,” she said.
Up next is a little break, and then some indoor track including the Millrose Games before she gears up for the outdoor track season where she may find herself running trying to run the 5,000 at Worlds.
Edwin Kurgat ‘I’m ready to do something special’
A year away from competition can make a runner appreciate just the act of competing and that was the case for Kurgat. “Being out there today was my happiness. When I came to a mile to go I thought ‘yeah I’ve got this’. I’m still working so so hard, I still want to be really, really good. I still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
His goal is to get a pro contract, and the win today definitely helped. “I wanted to make sure I showed them that I’m back and I’m ready to do something special.”
Emily Infeld ready to turn her attention to the Sound Running Ten
Infeld was pleased with her run today and how she could stay with Monson longer than she did at the USATF Cross Championships in January. But there are no plans for World Cross Country. Instead, Infeld said her attention will turn to the next Sound Running event, The Ten, on March 4, where athletes will be trying to hit the World Championship standard of 30:40, a time only four American women have ever run under.
Yared Nuguse (And Ollie Hoare) Take Down Some of Their Longer Distance Teammates
The OAC may have the greatest collection of 1500m runners in the world with Hoare (Commonwealth Games champ), Mario Garcia-Romo (4th at Worlds), and Nuguse (former NCAA record holder). But the group also has two great cross country runners in Joe Klecker (former NCAA runner-up) and Morgan McDonald (NCAA XC champ), so few probably expected a 1500m runner to lead the team today. However, that is what Nuguse and Hoare did today. Nuguse was pleased and surprised.
Hoare has not been back to Australia since he won the Commonwealth Games. He returns this month and it could be a really big deal as the Commonwealth Games 1500 aired in prime time in Australia. Hoare’s plan is to do some racing in Australia, but also do the Millrose Games, and hopefully get a wild-card entry into the Australia relay team for world cross country which is being held in Bathurst, Australia. His run today had to help his chances for selection to the cross country team.
Weldon Johnson is one of the co-founders of LetsRun.com. Best known for pacing Paula Radcliffe to her 2002 world record in the marathon, he represented Team USA at the Pan Am Games and World Half Marathon Championships. He can be reached at email@example.com.