2023 US 5K Road Champs: Morgan Beadlescomb & Annie Rodenfels Win in Central Park

It was the first national title for both athletes

NEW YORK — Seven months ago, on another major marathon weekend, the Morgan Beadlescomb won his first 5k road race as a professional at the B.A.A. 5K in Boston. On Sunday, he made it two-for-two, kicking clear of a massive pack over the final 400 meters to win the US 5K road championships in Central Park in 13:44. The win capped a successful fall for Beadlescomb’s Very Nice Track Club as his teammate Hobbs Kessler won the road mile world title a month ago in Latvia.

The women’s race in New York looked as if it might go to American half marathon record holder Keira D’Amato, who broke away one mile in. But two-time defending champ Weini Kelati and the B.A.A.’s Annie Rodenfels never allowed the gap to grow too large, and they would ultimately catch her just under a mile from the finish line. From there, Rodenfels would push on to win in 15:22 while D’Amato and Kelati would fade to 4th and 5th, respectively as Rachel Smith (née Schneider) closed impressively to finish 2nd in 15:26 just six months after giving birth. Like Beadlescomb, this was Rodenfels’ first US title.

Below, five thoughts from the morning in New York.

*Full results

Men’s top 10 results

Article continues below player.

Women’s top 10 results

Morgan Beadlescomb: “The stuff we’re doing, we’re doing right for the time being”

Because it’s held in the first week of November, when most pros are just getting back into the swing of training, the US 5k road championships are a fairly low-key national championship, with a somewhat relaxed vibe. That also means that it doesn’t make sense to read too much into the results. Beadlescomb knows that, but he also said his win today — in which he kicked clear with ease over the final 400 — was a good sign for him. The phrase “I haven’t even started speed work yet” is a classic running cliche. But on November 4, it actually rings true.

“[The result today] means the stuff that we’re doing, we’re doing right for the time being,” said Beadlescomb who was the NCAA runner-up for Michigan state in the indoor mle and outdoor 5000 in 2022. “We’re focusing a lot on strength, not a lot on speed. Just seeing that that speed is still there, it’s a good sign for things to come.”

There was also a scary moment during the first mile of the race in which a bus somehow found its way onto the course, causing some athletes to alter their paths to dodge it as it came to a stop. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but Beadlescomb was at a loss to explain how such an incident was allowed to happen.

Watch how close to a disaster things were:

“It’s New York, I guess? I don’t know…Somebody’s gonna have to be held accountable for that, because that could have killed somebody.”

Annie Rodenfels wins her first US title

Rodenfels, the former three-time NCAA Division III champ for Centre College in Kentucky but who now runs for the BAA, ran a smart race, keying off road race veteran Weini Kelati before making her own move with just under a mile to go. Rodenfels was pumped to win her first national title, and in recent years has run very well around this time of year — she has won the last two Boston University 5,000m races on the first weekend of December. Now her task is to make sure she is at her best when it truly matters.

“I want to put myself in the best position to make an Olympic team as possible,” Rodenfels said. “When you’re running track, I don’t know why else you would do it.”

Rachel Smith surprises with runner-up finish just six months after giving birth

Based on Smith’s pedigree (14:52 pb, 2021 Olympian), it’s not strange to see her name near the top of a US championship. But it was a bit of surprise considering she gave birth to daughter Nova, her and husband/coach Mike Smith‘s first child, on April 19.

Though Smith ran Beach to Beacon and a low-key half in Flagstaff in August, this was her first serious race back as mom and she took things cautiously. Looking back, she wondered what would have happened had she gone with the break early, but overall she was very pleased with her result.

“Today was a celebration of starting up again and being back out there,” Smith said. “I’m really happy with 2nd.”

Smith said she had had virtually no hiccups in her return to training but said that she did not put any pressure on herself to return quickly and went by how her body was feeling.

“We went into pregnancy and the recovery process with a very open mind, tried to have no expectations,” Smith said. “If things had played out in a different way, we might have had a 12-week period of no running and just been slowly starting up…I would just say, never try to rush coming back and really be open to how your body’s feeling.”

Keira D’Amato is trying not to stress about the Olympic Trials start time

Knowing she might not have the kick of some of the track specialists in the field, D’Amato tried to break the field early but couldn’t quite hang on and had to settle for 4th in 15:28. She was disappointed not to win, but overall is pleased with where she is at three months out from the Olympic Marathon Trials.

“I think this is the most fit I’ve ever started a build,” D’Amato said. “I’m seeing times in workouts I usually don’t see until the end of the season. So I feel really encouraged by where I’m starting this.”

As for the recent drama surrounding the start time of the race in Orlando? D’Amato is trying to avoid stressing about it.

“Tell me what time the race starts and I’ll be there,” D’Amato said. “It’s not ideal running in the heat and overheating, but I’m just trying to stay out of all the drama…Right now, I’m working and planning my runs around a 12:00 race. If they change it, I’ll plan my runs around whatever time they change it to.”

Woody Kincaid: “When you get your ass kicked once, it’s like, okay, I’ve gotta get really back into it”

Kincaid only ran his first workout two weeks ago since returning from his break so he wasn’t panicking about finishing 6th today in 13:49. But it was a reminder that it’s now time to get to work and start getting strong ahead of an Olympic year in 2024.

“I didn’t run as well as I’d like to, all things considered,” Kincaid said. “I’m starting my season, I think it’s the very beginning. When you get your ass kicked once, it’s like, okay, I’ve gotta get really back into it, really put my head down and start putting in big miles.”

Kincaid, who left the Bowerman Track Club after last season and responded by breaking the American indoor record at 5,000 meters and winning the US 10,000m title this year, was also asked whether he believed his success in 2023 showed it is possible to step away from Bowerman and still have success. US champions Grant FisherCooper Teare, and Elise Cranny have all left the team in recent weeks, with none older than 27.

“Honestly, there used to be a thought on Bowerman that this is it, this is the top of the game,” Kincaid said. “And I think now it’s not the only ticket in town. Bowerman’s still really good. They’re not going anywhere. But I think there are other teams now that are up there and competitive.”

Kincaid said he still talks to the remaining Bowerman members and that “the people there are really happy.” He did not want to speculate on why Fisher, Teare, and Cranny left but believed each had a different reason.

“I didn’t think they’d leave this year,” Kincaid said. “Leaving this year during an Olympic year is something that even I wouldn’t probably do. But I’m not surprised that people are leaving at some point…I think every person had a different reason for why they’re leaving Bowerman.”

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