Recently by Race Results Weekly

Race Results Weekly

Race Results Weekly

Bio: Race Results Weekly is the news service of record for global road racing, published by David and Jane Monti, with support of Chris Lotsbom. RunBlogRun publishes their stories with permission.


PHOTO: Erin Finn of the University of Michigan (center) sprinting barefoot to a 19th place finish at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky., ahead of Alexis Wiersma of Michigan State and Sarah Collins of Providence College (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.
By Chris Lotsbom with David Monti (@chrislotsbom / @d9monti)
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

TERRE HAUTE, IN (18-Nov) -- A year ago in Louisville, Ky., the University of Michigan's Erin Finn was running confidently in the opening minutes of the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park. Two kilometers into the six-kilometer race, she was in the lead pack of about 20 women along with Notre Dame's Molly Seidel, Boise State's Allie Ostrander, and Arkansas's Dominique Scott who would finish first, second and third, respectively.

Then disaster struck.

Despite having her spikes firmly tied, her shoes were stepped on from behind taking both of them off, a serious problem in any race but particularly bad on the Louisville course which features sections of rocks and gravel. Finn, a proud Michigander who grew up in West Bloomfield, just kept running, hoping that her coach, Mike McGuire, wouldn't pull her from the course.

"It was incredible that they were stepped on exactly on the heel without touching my Achilles at all, one after the other," Finn explained to reporters at a press conference here today. "It was just, maybe it was fate. Maybe it was to make me hungrier for this year. Maybe it'll all be for the better."

Finn managed to finish 19th helping her Wolverine team to sixth place finish. It was her dedication to her teammates which kept her in the race, she said.

"There's nothing more powerful than a team driving you, and knowing that you have six other girls racing and 35 other girls at home," she said today. "That's one of the most influential things in a race. I definitely want to soak up my last opportunity to have that tomorrow."

Finn, a senior, will run her final NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships at the LaVerne Gibson Cross Country Course here tomorrow, and is hungry to perform well for both herself and her No. 6-ranked Michigan team. This year has been a rollercoaster ride for the biochemistry major.

Finn's fall season began slow and steady, far from her typical fast-paced, full-throttle approach. After racing the Portland Track Festival 5000m on June 12 (where she was ninth in 15:34.50), Finn knew something was wrong. Her foot was in pain, and an MRI would soon reveal stress fractures in two bones in her right foot.

"For a couple weeks I knew there was something wrong with my foot and [was] playing the wishing game that it wasn't bony, and then after the race we found that it was and that's just where my season ended," Finn recalled. The injury was a tragic blow to not only Finn's NCAA title hopes on the track, but also a potential berth on the USA Olympic Team. Finn had run 31:51.84 for 10,000m only a month prior, one of only 13 American woman to have run sub-32:00 in qualifying for the USA Olympic Trials.

Forced to scratch out of the Trials, Finn would be sidelined for six to eight weeks of no running. She'd begin training on an Alter-G treadmill in mid-August, then slowly returned to running on land right before a pre-season camp for the Wolverines. Having learned her lesson from multiple injuries during her high school and collegiate careers --which included a broken tibia-- Finn and Coach McGuire took a conservative approach to the 2016 cross country season.

"We really did a great job of taking it slow and easing into the season. I definitely go pedal to the metal as soon as I can, so my coach, I'm really thankful that he held me back and made sure in workouts that the effort was a little more tempered," Finn said. "We really started to get after it after Roy Griak."

At the Roy Griak Invitational on September 24, in Minneapolis, Finn suffered her only loss of the 2016 cross country season to Boise State sophomore Brenna Peloquin. The defeat only served to motivate the 22-year-old, who typically runs with a maize-colored bow holding her long ponytail. "I don't like losing so I kind of asked [Coach McGuire] to let me start hammering workouts a little more and we slowly built into it after Roy Griak. I think that really started to show at Pre-Nats and I hope it will show tomorrow."

In total, Finn has scored five victories this cross country season, making her a prime contender to become only the second Michigan Wolverine ever to claim an individual NCAA Cross Country title after the now-retired Katie McGregor in 1998. Finn will face key rivals including Peloquin, Notre Dame's Anna Rohrer, New Mexico's Alice Wright, and Colorado's Erin Clark, among others.

Keeping it simple, Finn said she would just run on feel, energized by the dedication of Coach McGuire and her Wolverine squad.

"I always ask my coach for very detailed race plans before races and he never gives them to me," she quipped. He always just tells me go out and just run. In the race I'm just going to do whatever feels right in the moment and I've found that that's usually the best thing to do, to rely on how I feel in the moment and to just run. I'm a runner and that's what I love to do and I'm just going to go out tomorrow and run and see what happens."

PHOTO: Justyn Knight of Syracuse University at the Blue Carpet Event at the Indiana Theater in advance of the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

TERRE HAUTE, IN (18-Nov) -- It has been a long, and mostly fruitful, year for Syracuse University junior Justyn Knight. The 20 year-old Canadian from Vaughan, Ontario, may have missed making the Olympic team by the slimmest of margins, but he was the ACC indoor 3000m and outdoor 5000m champion, and ran personal bests of 7:48.71 and 13:26.36 for those distances. He also won the NCAA Northeast Region cross country title last weekend, setting him and his Orange teammates up for their title defense at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships here tomorrow.

Knight seems born to run cross country. Racing as a sophomore at these championships last year in Louisville, Ky., Knight finished fourth, just one of three Syracuse men to make the top-10 for coach Chris Fox. Knight said he and his teammates have built on last year's success and they are ready to be competitive here tomorrow, even without their #3 man from last year, Martin Hehir, who graduated last spring.

"The season went pretty well," Knight told Race Results Weekly at the NCAA's Blue Carpet Event here last night. "Just getting two years of experience under my belt really helped this year. I'm coming in with a lot more confidence and self-awareness about what I can accomplish. I'm hoping to end on a good note."

Knight has excellent leg speed for a distance runner. On October 14, competing at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, Knight showed a powerful finishing sprint, winning the race by overwhelming Northern Arizona's Futsum Zienasellassie, another contender for the NCAA overall title here, in the final meters to win by two seconds. Knight said that sprint speed comes from the strength work he's been doing this fall.

"I've been working on my strength a lot for cross country," Knight explained, wearing suspenders and a bow tie. "Track season is when I work on my speed. I'm very confident in both. I think that if the race turns out to be hard from the start, it would play more towards my favor just as well as sit-and-kick."

Oregon's Edward Cheserek has won at these championships the last three years in a row, and is heavily favored again tomorrow. But Knight has the advantage of working with a strong team, especially one feeling the pride of being reigning champions.

"It's different," said Knight smiling broadly when asked about his team. "I've never experienced anything like this. I think you have to deal with, you can't get too nervous about people expecting you to do well, and you can't get too complacent as well. That's a different experience I've never been through before."

Knight wanted to compete for Canada at the Rio Olympics, but his 13:26.36 5000m best last June missed the Games qualification standard by 1.36 seconds. Instead, he watched the Games on television, and saw his compatriot Mo Ahmed, finish fourth in the 5000m. Knight said the Rio Games helped motivate him for cross country this fall. For 2016, his Olympics are here in Terre Haute.

"I think that's part of the reason I'm running so fast right now," Knight concluded. "I'm still a little bit salty from missing the qualifying standard by a second or two, twice. So, I think now I look at every opportunity as my last, and I just try to perform well and make sure I have no regrets."

PHOTO: Justyn Knight of Syracuse University at the Blue Carpet Event at the Indiana Theater in advance of the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

TERRE HAUTE, IN, USA (18-Nov) -- The NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships are fewer than 24 hours away. Sixty-two teams are eyeing the sleek national championship trophies, while a select number of athletes have a shot at taking the top spots and joining the exclusive club of individual champions. So, what's left to do between now and when the gun fires at the LaVerne Gibson Cross Country Course here?

Nothing but rest, relax, and get rid of any lingering anxiety, said coaches Race Results Weekly spoke to here last night. That is probably easier said that done.

"I'm not much for talks. Just keep them laughing, keep everything light. They know what's at stake and they want it way more than I do," said Syracuse coach Chris Fox last night at the Blue Carpet Event, pre-meet team and VIP gathering at Indiana Theater. A former elite athlete with a 27:53 10,000m personal best, Fox guided the Orange to a nine-point national title win over Colorado last year.

In 2015, NCAA's couldn't have gone any better for the Orange. Canadian sophomore Justyn Knight led the way by placing fourth, while the rest of the Orange's five scorers all finished in the top 50. Last year Syracuse attended the Blue Carpet event, and this year they did the same trying to recreate the same magic that lifted them over Colorado when these championships were in Louisville, Ky. While on the blue carpet, Fox said the event is just one way to help athletes enjoy the moment and stay calm.

"It makes the meet experience good, it keeps them from sitting in the hotel room thinking about the race. We did all this last year and we won, so we're going to repeat it," he said.

The saying 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' could describe both Fox and Villanova coach Marcus O'Sullivan's mindset heading into the meet.

In his 19th year guiding Villanova, O'Sullivan has been to nationals with individuals and teams, rookies and veterans. This year he's got Australian Olympian Patrick Tiernan and freshman Andrew Marston competing.

"It all depends on who the athletes are," O'Sullivan told Race Results Weekly. "In my case with Patrick Tiernan, very advanced maturity-wise in terms of how he approaches things, I don't give him any instructions at all. The young kid, Andrew Marston, he'll need a little bit more but not until the day of the race or night before, [just] make sure they get plenty of sleep and not make them too jittery. I'll make them more jittery."

As for the race itself, O'Sullivan's philosophy is less is more.

"Sometimes it's just one or two things to think about because you can over-analyze things. When you have too many things in your mind you can get confused and it's an analysis paralysis kind of thing. I like to think about one or two things, something that would keep you calm and keep you simply motivated, not extravagantly motivated."

O'Sullivan's strategy has worked in the past. He won the 1998 women's national team title when he still coached Vilanova's women's squad, and Tiernan placed second in the individual race in 2015.

Another veteran coach, BYU's Ed Eyestone, chooses to remind his athletes that this moment is a privilege and has been the goal all year long. As such, the meet should seem like a fun opportunity and not a nerve-wracking test.

"Try not to do anything differently, another day at the office," Eyestone said. "Just get in, you've been doing good things all year long and just try to do what's brought us success so far. I think as long as you don't change things up too drastically you'll be fine." His men come into the meet ranked fourth and the women are 28th.

"I like to remind them of all the work they've done. That's one of the things that helps. Saying. 'Hey, we deserve to be here,' and remind them this is where we want to be. Sometimes nerves are there and you want to be somewhere else. This is what we've been working for. This is what we've been working for, so now let's go and have fun."

With a women's team that ranks 11th and one of the top contenders for the women's individual title, sophomore Anna Rohrer, Notre Dame coach Matt Sparks has one message: Stay true to yourself, and believe.

"Do the same thing you've been doing every time out for the last two months. A championship time is not a time to re-invent yourself. Just keep doing what you've been doing and you'll be fine," said Sparks, who coached 2015 individual champion Molly Seidel who returns to the team for the indoor season in the winter.

* * * * *

The NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held here on Saturday for the 79th time for men and 37th for women. Held on an all-grass course, men run 10-K and women 6-K. Last year's champions were Edward Cheserek of the University of Oregon --who has won the last three editions-- and Molly Seidel of Notre Dame, who is not competing this year. The event will be broadcast LIVE exclusively on Flotrack. Go to to find viewing information.

PHOTO: The coveted NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships trophies (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.

Keitany_Mary_With_Family_NYCM_2016_Smaller_Jane_Monti.jpgPHOTO: Mary Keitany with her husband, Charles Koech, son Jared and daughter Samantha after winning the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.


***Americans Huddle, Abdirahman Earn Third-Place Finishes***

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission

NEW YORK (06-Nov) -- Kenya's Mary Keitany made one of the strongest winning moves in TCS New York City Marathon history, blasting away from the field at 14 miles before running solo to her third straight victory in 2:24:26. Keitany, 34, became just the third woman in history to win here three times, joining the late nine-time champion Grete Waitz of Norway and three-time champion Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain. Only Keitany and Waitz had won three consecutive times.

In similar fashion, Eritrea's Ghirmay Ghebreslassie said goodbye to chasers Lucas Rotich and Lelisa Desisa on the Willis Avenue Bridge after mile-19 and would cover the roads of New York by himself. Breaking the tape in 2:07:51, the 2015 world marathon champion ran the fastest marathon on USA soil this year. Ghebreslassie became the youngest winner in race history at 20 and the event's first Eritrean champion.


PHOTO: Donn Cabral leads Scott Fauble at the 2016 Abbott Dash To The Finish 5-K (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly), used with permission


By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

NEW YORK (05-Nov) -- As has come to be tradition on TCS New York City Marathon weekend, Donn Cabral ran to another win here at the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5-K, scoring his third straight victory on the uphill course from the United Nations to Central Park in 14:19. Cabral was joined on the top step of the podium by Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, as the 26-year-old continued a strong Norwegian tradition of excellence on the roads of New York by winning in 15:40.

"I just felt unbelievable, phenomenal," said Cabral, a two-time Olympic steeplechase finalist who represents Nike. "It was still pretty darn close in those last 300 meters though."

Wanting to complete the three-peat, Cabral said he had extra motivation to run hard from the start. Joined by a large pack at the mile in modest 4:49, Cabral settled in next to Hoka One One/Northern Arizona Elite's Scott Fauble.

Cabral and Fauble both began to hit the gas pedal simultaneously, causing a distinct lead pack of seven to form. In a way the pack was reminiscent of Ivy League Championships of yesteryear: Cabral (a Princeton grad) was next to Kyle Merber (Columbia), Will Geoghegan (Dartmouth), and for a brief moment John Bleday (also of Dartmouth).

"We have a lot of scores to settle between the group of us; we've raced so many times," Cabral joked. Today's score would be decided in Central Park, with Cabral, Fauble, Merber, Geoghegan and Ethiopian Girma Bekele Gebre hitting two miles in 9:22.

Passing the Central Park Carousel with little over a kilometer remaining, Cabral made what wound up being the winning move. The Connecticut native got the slightest edge on Fauble going down one of Central Park's gradual declines. The three-step lead would hold into the final 400 meters, the very same stretch of ground that more than 50,000 marathoners will cover tomorrow.

"Getting into the Park, I put the accelerator down and tried to grind as hard as I could from a long ways out. Donn was able to go with me, he knows the course a little better than me, and with about 400 meters to go I kind of lost where I was on the course," said Fauble. "I didn't quite have enough room to pull him back."

Cabral hit the tape in 14:19 to Fauble's 14:22, giving the former a $1,500 payday for the win. Merber took third in 14:30, followed by Gebre (14:34) and Geoghegan (14:38).

"This race is awesome. It's kind of like Valentine's Day and Halloween are both linked to New York City because of the Millrose Games and Dash to the Finish. For me, it's kind of a tradition, it starts getting nice and time to dress up, suit up with the bib on and go win the Dash to the Finish," Cabral said. "It's exciting and I hope to keep doing it."

When asked what winning on Marathon weekend feels like, Cabral laughed and was honest.

"I feel like I'm cheating," he began. "Running a 5-K in 14:17 or something, and crossing the [same finish] line, they should have a different finish line for those who run the 5-K because the people who run the marathon and cross this line, they've earned it a hell of a lot more than I have winning the 5-K."

Both Cabral and Fauble will square off again at the Manchester Road Race in Connecticut on Thanksgiving. Fauble said that today's second place was a good indication of his current fitness, and sets the framework for what he hopes to be a productive fall and winter; he will also be competing at the USA Club Cross Country Championships in December.

"I think I'm most encouraged by how easily I could accelerate and how I could push from a long ways out. That's been something I've been working on," said Fauble, who celebrated his birthday today. As part of the NYRR's Lead Vehicle Program, Fauble will ride in the men's lead car for tomorrow's TCS New York City Marathon. For his first time in the city, he said there's no better tour like the one he's about to experience.

Eric Jenkins, winner of the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in September, was outside the top ten, finishing in 15:07.

Like Fauble, women's champion Bjerkeli Grøvdal is in town to experience the marathon from the lead car. But she's also soaking up the chance to compete in the same city where the legendary Norwegian marathoner Grete Waitz won nine titles from 1978 to 1988.

Channeling her inner Waitz, Bjerkeli Grøvdal led the women's race from gun to tape, fending off Alexi Pappas, who now represents Greece, and Stephanie Bruce.

"The whole time I was chasing her like a little sister. I am a little sister in real life so I'm real good at that, so I channeled those instincts to chase for as long as you can!" said Pappas, last year's winner. The closest Pappas got was 14 seconds at the finish, with Bjerkeli Grøvdal winning 15:40 to 15:54.

Bjerkeli Grøvdal previously represented the Norwegian club, SK Vidar, the club made famous by Grete Waitz. At the beginning of the year, she switched to the rival club, IK Tjalve.

"It's great to be here. I would love to run the marathon," Bjerkeli Grøvdal said. Speaking of Waitz's legacy, she shook her head in awe. "It's big. It's good to see her, someone like me [from Norway], can do something great in the United States. It's made it easier for me to do it also [run the marathon]. I think it's great and I'm proud that she's Norwegian."

Bjerkeli Grøvdal is currently preparing for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Uganda, and has a longer-term focus on next year's IAAF World Championships in London. Running 15:40 for the win here sets her up nicely for the winter months to come.

Behind Bjerkeli Grøvdal, Pappas (15:54), and Bruce (16:07), Amy van Alstine (16:15) and Mary Cain (16:32) rounded out the top five. A second behind Cain were steeplechasers Ashley Higginson (16:33), then Rachel Johnson (16:35). Olympian Marielle Hall, who will join Bjerkeli Grøvdal in the lead truck for the marathon, crossed the line in 17:09, running in her training shoes.

Tomorrow, more than 50,000 runners are expected to finish the 46th running of the TCS New York City Marathon.

Rooney_MartynFH-Euros16.jpgEuropean 400 meters, photo by

This is report 19, on European Athletics results, compiled by Carles Baronet for RunBlogRun. These results are from the mid September 2016 time period.

Sisson_Emily_Tufts10K_2016_Leading_Lotsbom.jpgPHOTO: Emily Sisson on her way to victory at the 2016 Tufts Health Plan 10-K for Women (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.

Emily Sisson won her first national title at Tufts, and we are very excited for the young professional runner, who runs for New Balance, and is from Missouri (we featured her on Mo Runner a few times). Here is Chris Lotsbom's fine race story.

Kirui_Abel1i-Kenya12.jpgAbel Kirui, photo by
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

CHICAGO (09-Oct) -- On a picture-perfect fall day here, Kenya's Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat won the 39th Bank of America Chicago Marathon using completely different tactics. Kirui, twice the world marathon champion, survived a slow and unevenly-paced men's race to win in 2:11:23, the slowest winning time here since 1993. Kiplagat, the defending champion, blew away the women's field with a powerful surge past the 30-K mark to win by about two minutes in a fast 2:21:32.

Both athletes won $100,000 in prize money at this Abbott World Marathon Majors event, while Kiplagat pocketed an additional $10,000 time bonus for breaking 2:23.

Like last year, Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski did not employ pacemakers, and the elite men and women collectively made very different decisions on how to approach the race. The men went out at a painfully slow pace of 16:06 for the first 5 kilometers (about a 2:16 pace) while the women hit the same split less than a minute behind in 16:56, about a 2:23 pace. The die was cast.

"It's incredibly slow," said commentator Tim Hutchings of the men's contest.

Moreover, the men's pace was uneven. There were several surges by Kenya's Paul Lonyangata, followed by entertaining chases where Lonyangata swerved across the roadway to try to shake compatriot Gideon Kipketer. None of these moves did anything to break of the race, and a huge lead pack of 20 men lumbered through 10-K in 32:04. That group was only whittled down to 14 by the halfway mark (1:06:51). All of the main contenders were still on contention, including defending champion Dickson Chumba, Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Micah Kogo, top American from last year Luke Puskedra, Lonyangata, Kipketer and Kirui.

Meanwhile, the women decided the cool, sunny and only slightly windy conditions were too good to waste on a slow pace. Seven women --Kenyans Visiline Jepkesho, Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat, Purity Rionoripo and Valentine Kipketer, and Ethiopians Yebrgual Melese and Atsede Baysa-- ran clustered together, clocking honest 5 km segments of 16:56, 16:43, 16:31 and 16:37 through 20 km. Only Baysa, who endured a fall, was dropped by half-way (1:10:29).

"It was good running," Florence Kiplagat said later. "I set the pace faster than I thought (but) I was comfortable."

Incredibly, the men would slow down further. With no athlete willing to take up the pace, they jogged from 25 to 30 km in 16:13, with Kirui sharing the lead of a still too-big pack of 12. Kirui was itching to go faster, but he vowed to his Italian coach, Renato Canova (who also coached Florence Kiplagat), that he would stay with the group.

"I wanted to go, I wanted to go," Kirui later told the media. "Then I remember what coach was telling me: go with the group."

It was at the same point, 30-K, that Florence Kiplagat decided she had waited long enough. She blasted away from the field, covering the next 5 kilometers in a snappy 16:17, nearly as fast as the men's slowest split. In an instant, every other woman was running for second.

"Florence was so aggressive from 30 km because she knew the course," said Edna Kiplagat, who would finish a distant second in a still-credible 2:23:28. "So I tried to pick up my pace."

Valentine Kipketer, a sister of Gideon Kipketer, would finish third in 2:23:41, followed by Rionoripo (2:24:47) and Melese (2:24:49).

But for Kirui, the race was only beginning. Just before 35-K, Lonyangata made another surge which took the lead pack from an even dozen to only four at 35-K: Chumba, Kipketer, Kirui, and Lonyangata. Kirui, who won back-to-back world marathon titles in 2009 and 2011, was ready to respond, but didn't want to go too early.

"So In my mind I know that something is going to happen," Kirui recalled. "I was very careful to see who was going to strike."

Lonyangata was the first to fall back, then Kipketer fell off. Kirui and Chumba sped through the 5 km segment from 35 to 40-K in 14:45, easily the fastest of the race. They were neck-in-neck with a comfortably 24-second lead over Kipketer. Only one would win.

There is a small hill before the final finish straight, and Kirui used it to make his move on Chumba. Furiously pumping his arms, he left Chumba behind, achieving a three-second gap which would hold to the tape. Chumba clocked 2:11:26, followed by Kipketer in 2:12:20 and Lonyangata in 2:13:17. Stephen Sambu, making his marathon debut, finished fifth in 2:13:35.

"For me, I'm very excited, surely," said a jubilant Kirui who celebrated at the finish line with a little dance. "It's my first time to win a race on American soil. That was my big desire."

Back in 8th place, Diego Estrada of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the top American, finishing his first marathon in 2:13:56 (he had dropped out of the USA Olympic Trials in Los Angeles last February in his first attempt at the distance). Sadly, he stepped on a competitor's water bottle at the 10-K fluid station, rolling his right ankle. He thought about dropping out, but couldn't bring himself to stop.

"I didn't know if I should drop out or continue," a determined Estrada told the media after coming into the press room on crutches. "I just told myself that wasn't an option."

Puskedra finished 19th in 2:20:18, and Serena Burla was the top American on the women's side in seventh place in 2:30:40. Sarah Crouch (9th in 2:33:48) and Alia Gray (10th in 2:34:00) made it three USA women in the top-10.

A total of 41,350 runners started today's race.

Sambu_Stephen_Chicago_2016_PreRace_David_Monti.jpgStephen Sambu, photo courtesy of David Monti, RRW, used with permisssion.


By David Monti, @d9monti

(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

CHICAGO (08-Oct) -- The conference room at the Chicago Hilton was noisy as reporters scrambled yesterday to chat up the elite athletes running Sunday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Most of the athletes looked nervous, unsure of what to say about their chances in what is America's second-largest marathon, part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. They were definitely feeling the pressure.

But sitting quietly and looking calm was Kenya's Stephen Sambu, who will make his debut at the 42.195 kilometer distance here. Sambu, 28, a former NCAA star for the University of Arizona, will move out of his comfort zone of the 5-K to the half-marathon, the distance range over which he has recorded 18 road racing victories and 30 podium finishes since becoming a professional in the fall of 2012. He saw stepping up to the marathon now as a natural progression of his career. The time was right, he said.

"I decided because I've done a lot of half-marathons, like New York," said Sambu who won the NYC Half last March, finished second in 2015, third in 2014 and seventh in 2013. "I did New York, I don't know, four or five times. I was like, this is enough. I just need to try the full one."

Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski recruited Sambu back in the spring, making him the first top athlete he announced for the race. In the midst of doping crisis in Kenya, Pinkowski saw Sambu as both a trustworthy and talented athlete.

"The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a long tradition of featuring the world's best athletes making their marathon debuts right here," Pinkowski said in a statement at the time. "To have Stephen Sambu, a person with deep integrity on top of being a talented athlete, add his name to that legacy is truly exciting. He's one of the most highly rated athletes on the road today who isn't afraid to go to the well and put in the work. He loves the energy of racing in our city."

Chicago has a history of fast debuts by Kenyan athletes, including a 2:05:50 by Evans Rutto in 2003 and a 2:06:54 by Ondoro Osoro in 1998. Both marks were world debut records at the time.

Sambu cut back his racing schedule this year so that he could first try for the Kenyan Olympic team at 5000m (he ended up tenth in their Olympic Trials last June), and then be ready for Chicago. He only ran one summer road race, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race last August, which he won easily by a 25-second margin over USA Olympian Leonard Korir. He has stayed home in Arizona grinding out the miles under his longtime coach, James Li. The training was challenging, he said, leaving his legs more tired than ever before.

"You know, when I did 40K I got massages because my legs were killing me everywhere," Sambu explained, shaking his head. "I didn't have like injury, or anything. My legs were, like, dead from long runs."

Along the way, he got advice from training partner Abdi Abdirahman, a four-time Olympian and 2:08:56 marathoner who set his personal best in Chicago ten years ago. Abdirahman counseled him to not overdo his long runs and, above all, be restrained during the race.

"Abdi told me about racing. He told me, 'Be careful, don't go crazy,'" Sambu said. He added: "You know, I'm just going to be very careful not to go crazy. "This is a very long race. So, my plan is to go at a comfortable pace maybe, almost, five minutes (per mile) at the beginning, or maybe 4:55, 4:50. That's my goal."

Pinkowski abandoned pacemakers last year to try to foster better head-to-head competition. That will make this year's race doubly difficult for Sambu who will have to focus on controlling his pace and not getting caught up in any early breaks which are too quick. However, prize money only goes 5-deep here ($100,000-75,000-50,000-20,000-20,000) so Sambu doesn't want to get too far behind, especially if Chicago's notorious winds kick up.

"I'm worried that, like, it might be so windy," Sambu said. He added: "The weather is going to be my worry, but I hope it's going to be good."

If he's successful here on Sunday, Sambu said that he'll focus on the marathon going forward. It's no secret that the marathon is the most lucrative distance in road running, but it is also the least forgiving and most competitive. Sambu isn't worried about that now.

"I'll be a marathoner, yes," Sambu said with a nervous laugh. "That's going to be my thing."

PHOTO: Stephen Sambu in advance of the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

NH RRW photo 9.16.16.jpg
PHOTO: New Hampshire's Elinor Purrier winning the 2016 BC Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown cross country meet (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly), used with permission.
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.

FRANKLIN PARK, BOSTON, MA (16-Sep) -- With temperatures in the mid-70s and a brisk wind blowing across Franklin Park, the weather could not have been better for today's BC Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown cross country meet. The women of Providence lived up to their billing as the top-ranked team in the northeast (and No. 3 nationally), scoring 25 points to win over Dartmouth (79) as New Hampshire's Elinor Purrier ran away with the individual title in 17:06.

Making the trip north from Fayetteville was the University of Arkansas men's squad, led by Brit Alex George. George broke from the field near the four kilometer mark and went on to win the 8 km race in 24:09. Dartmouth pulled the early season upset by scoring 40 points to Providence's 50 and Arkansas's 61, though the sixth ranked Razorbacks held out a number of their top men.

Here are some quick observations from the meet, which kicked-off a strong weekend of collegiate cross country action nationwide.

1) Providence Friars Live Up To No. 3 Ranking: While it is early, Coach Ray Treacy's Providence College Friars already look like they possess podium potential on the national level -- even when holding out senior All American Catarina Rocha. The Friars placed five straight runners from third through seventh, tallying 25 points and having a scoring spread of seven seconds.

Though they looked strong, coach Treacy said it is still very early in the season and anything can happen. Not until the Wisconsin Invitational on October 14 will Treacy get a feel for what the team is destined for.

"It was pretty solid I thought. I just wanted the four women behind Sarah to run together today and they did the job nicely," he said. "Until I get my full squad out there, I don't really know. I think the team that ran today is a top ten team, that's about all I would say right now until I get everyone else back. Right now it's hard to tell."

Graduate senior Sarah Collins --who was a member of the national championship winning 2013 team-- led Australian Brianna Illarda and West Virginia transfer Millie Paladino as their top three runners in 17:19, 17:24, and 17:24. Katie Lembo (70th and 101st at the last two NCAA championships and a key returner according to Treacy) was seventh in 17:26, a second behind freshman Abbey Wheeler (17:25 for fifth). The number two through five runners ran together the entire way.

2) Elinor Purrier Aims To Convert Track Success Onto XC Course -- New Hampshire junior Elinor Purrier had a breakthrough 2016 track year, running 4:29.71 for the mile indoors then 9:47.17 in the steeplechase on the outdoor oval. At both NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships she was third in both respective disciplines.

Though the Olympic Trials didn't turn out how she had hoped (ninth in her heat in 10:08.39), the Vermont native kicked off her cross country campaign on the right foot by breaking from Boston College sophomore Isabelle Kennedy after two miles, creating a seven-second cushion to win in 17:06.

Purrier did not race cross country last year due to a knee injury, and thinks top ten could be in the cards this season.

"The plan was to hang with whoever was in the front crowd, the top five or so, and then see what I had at the end and see if I could kick," said Perrier. "It definitely helps my confidence a little bit, but it's a little different cause I took last cross country season off. Feels like I've been out of the loop a little bit for a while but it's definitely nice to be back cause I definitely enjoy cross country.

"I think I'm definitely running off of some good fitness from the spring, it's definitely still there, so I think I'm in pretty good shape but it's a long cross country season so I still have a ways to go until I'm in my best shape," she said.

Purrier has never raced at an NCAA Cross Country Championship before. At the 2013 and 2014 Northeast Regionals, she finished 40th and 14th, respectively.

3) Alex George and Arkansas Razorbacks Race In Control: Arkansas junior Alex George looked to be in cruise control the whole race here today, running within himself through 4 km before gently creating a gap on Providence's Julian Oakley. The 20-year-old Brit won in 24:09, some 16 seconds up on Oakley and 20 seconds ahead of third placer Daniel Salas (Dartmouth).

George said he raced wanting to get a hard effort in, and felt strong throughout. While the Razorbacks held out a number of men (including Austen Dalquist, Jack Bruce, and Andrew Ronoh), they still managed to finish third in the standings. George said that this season is critical for him, as he wants to erase the sour taste left behind after 183rd (2014) and 176th (2015) finishes at the last two NCAA Cross Country Championships.

"I love Boston. It's nice to come out here and get the win, get a hard effort in," George said. "I just wanted to feel good, run hard, and I felt really good so I strung it open."

Fun Fact: George wore a sprinter's speed suit today, and said it was quite comfortable and could be his new lucky uniform. Not often do you see a speed suit leading a distance race, let alone a cross country meet.

Back in high school, George sported a speed suit during a snowy race as a means to keep warm. Joking with his teammates, he said he'd one day wear it again. None of his Razorback teammates believed him.

"The guys were like 'Nah you won't!' and egged me on to do it. I felt it's the first meet of the year, what's the harm," he said laughing. "It seemed to work this time around... It's surprisingly comfy actually."

4) Isabelle Kennedy is One To Watch: Boston College coach Randy Thomas watched sophomore Isabelle Kennedy pass the mile out front in 5:19 and smiled. He turned to a pair of reporters and said a memorable line: "She's not one to be denied of many things."

Kennedy took second in 17:13 after battling Purrier step for step heading into the Wilderness Loop. It's Kennedy's story, though, that is awe-inspiring: at 12 days old, Kennedy was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease that affects roughly 30,000 people in the United States each year. Growing up in Boulder, Co., Kennedy was active as a child and didn't let the disease hamper her in the slightest.

Though she still deals with the daily treatments that come along with CF --such as physiotherapy treatments, multiple medications, and visits to her doctor at Children's Hospital in Boston-- Kennedy has quickly become BC's top threat, taking the reins from former Eagle Liv Westphal. Coach Thomas said Kennedy can definitely be an All-American this year; her race today was a grind from start to finish.

"I'm lucky to be really healthy right now. A lot of people with CF have a much tougher battle than I do, so I feel very fortunate right now," she said. Kennedy doesn't want to be known as the runner with Cystic Fibrosis; rather just a runner. "I do this because I love it, because I want to be out here, and because it's just a dream come true, and I think every other person here feels that same way... I'm just another athlete. I come out here and I feel great and compete just like anyone else. I don't want to be the girl who does well with CF. I just want to be a competitor and come out here and see what I can do."

5) Molly Huddle Update: On hand as a neutral spectator was Molly Huddle, fresh off her American record 10,000m at the Olympic Games. Huddle's coach, Treacy, is the head of Providence while her husband Kurt Benninger is a coach at Brown University. Both were competing here today.

Roughly a month into training for her debut marathon in New York on November 6, Huddle is eager to ramp up the intensity in the coming weeks. The month of October will be key, when she'll log the most important miles of her buildup.

"I'm just kind of getting into the long runs now. I've only done one real long one, and am going to do a longer tempo tomorrow. I'm still kind of building," she said. "I kind of miss the track already! But I've enjoyed the long runs and experimenting with those, trying to push those at the end. Still a work in progress but trying to feel it out."

Coach Treacy said Huddle's lead into New York is very calculated and a tad on the cautious side: he doesn't want to take the zip out of Huddle's legs and wants to avoid burnout at all cost. Both excited and a tad nervous, Huddle will try and become the first American woman to win in New York since Miki Gorman in 1977.

"I've practiced the gels and running 5:30 pace with bottles. It's harder than it looks!" she said.

[To see the complete interview, visit]

6) Faces in the Crowd: On hand to witness the cross country meet were a number of notable names in the running industry. In addition to Huddle, spectators included legendary Greater Boston Track Club coach Billy Squires (who led the likes of Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and Bill Rodgers during their careers); Olympian and New Balance Boston coach Mark Coogan; former Stanford All American Aisling Cuffe (now training in Providence under Treacy); 2000 NCAA Cross Country champion Keith Kelly; former Georgetown standout Katrina Coogan; Vice President of Running at New Balance Tom Carleo (watching son Nick race for Providence); and former New Jersey/New York Track Club runner and Olympic Trials qualifier Mike Rutt (now coaching UMass Lowell).

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required