Day Three, 2014 USATF Outdoor Champs: Huddle and Rowbury Wage Memorable Duel for 5,000 metercrown, by Mark Winitz

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Huddle and Rowbury duel for 5000 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net

This is Mark Winitz feature on the Day three battle between Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury. 

Day Three, 2014 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships


Huddle and Rowbury Wage Memorable Duel for 5,000 Meter Crown


By Mark Winitz


SACRAMENTO (June 27) -- Rhode Island's Molly Huddle and San Francisco native Shannon Rowbury thrilled an exuberant crowd at Sacramento State University's Hornet Stadium on Friday evening in a friendly but exhilarating rivalry for the 2014 U.S. Championship 5,000m title that wasn't decided until the final stretch. The race will surely be remembered as one of the highlights of the five-day championships competition.


Huddle, the U.S. women's record holder at 5,000m (14:44.76), assumed an early lead with Rowbury, the 2012 Olympic Trials runner-up at 1500m and 2013 U.S. Championships bronze medalist at 5,000m, and others closely in tow. With 6 laps to go in the 12-and-a-half lap race, Huddle and Rowbury, along with 2014 NCAA 5,000m champion Marielle Hall (recently graduated from the University of Texas), had a gap on the field. 


"I was kind of getting a little nervous in the middle of the race, kind of pulling outside a little to see if anyone would come up on the inside," Huddle admitted. "I just had to make sure that I had enough left for a hard finish and a great closer in case I had to pull it off in the last 100m."


It turns out that Huddle's restraint paid off in the end.


At the bell, Huddle and Rowbury, separated by a few steps, were the clear contenders for the victory. Then with just 300 meters remaining, Rowbury swept past Huddle and sprinted for home. 


With less than 50 meters to go, Huddle went to the outside and hit the finish line a hair in front of Rowbury.


The final times on the clock captured the narrowness of the victory: Huddle, 15:01.56. Rowbury, 15:01.71. Hall finished a solid third in 15:12.79.

After the race, Rowbury, the 2009 World Championships 1500m bronze medalist who has been a finalist in two Olympic 1500s, reflected on her effort:


"I'd hoped to kick by Molly and get her, but she's a strong girl and she fought back. She was in front the whole time, which I kind of expected. She does longer distance training, and John Cook [Rowbury's former coach], would always say that speed comes through strength. I'm still building up my endurance since I've been racing the 800m and 1500m. I hope I can hold her off next time. She's a great competitor."


Last October, Rowbury moved from San Francisco to Beaverton, Ore. to join coach Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project.


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