Road Digest — 3 USATF Races, Fast Marathon Debut

Fiona O’Keeffe’s USATF 10M title also featured an equalizer bonus that ran her prize money to $22,000. (MIKE SCOTT)

EARLY-FALL road headlines were dominated by the WMM races in Berlin, London & Chicago, but that wasn’t all the notable action, as USATF Champs were named in the 10K, 10M and 20K. And a long-awaited marathon debut didn’t disappoint.

USATF 20K: Mantz & D’Amato

New Haven, Connecticut, September 05 — Some of the top American marathoners tuned up for the fall season with fast runs in humid conditions at the USATF 20K Championships. Conner Mantz used a hard final 800 to win the men’s race — and $9000 — in 59:08, having pulled away from Leonard Korir (59:13), Sam Chelanga (59:15), Shadrack Kipchirchir (59:18) and Biya Simbassa (59:19).

Keira D’Amato sliced 42 seconds off the women’s course record with her 64:29, taking home a $10,000 prize. She beat Emily Sisson (65:35) by more than a minute by breaking away with a mile to go, as Nell Rojas (67:02) and Annie Frisbie (67:17) took the next two spots.

USATF 10K: Simbassa & Bruce

Northport, New York, September 17 — The hilly course at the Great Cow Harbor 10K hosted the USATF road championships. Course records went to both winners, as Stephanie Bruce (31:53.0) and Biya Simbassa (28:12.4) won the $10,000 prizes.

It marked the final USATF title of Bruce’s career, as she is retiring from competitive running at age 38 after the New York Marathon, because of a congenital heart condition.

Not far behind Bruce were Nell Rojas (31:57) and Annie Frisbie (31:59), while Simbassa had a solid margin over Leonard Korir (28:35) and Sam Chelanga (28:36).

USATF 10M: Bor & O’Keeffe

St. Paul, Minnesota, October 02—Fiona O’Keeffe had the biggest payday at the USATF 10-miler, after starting with a 5:53 head start and finishing ahead of the first man, Hillary Bor.

O’Keeffe’s 51:42 course record (topping a Molly Huddle 51:44 from ’15) earned her a total of $22,000 that included the “equalizer bonus.” Annie Frisbie crossed 2nd in 52:10, with Emily Durgin (52:16) and Nell Rojas (52:20) ahead of Olympic Trials Marathon winner Aliphine Tuliamuk (52:35).

Of winning the equalizer prize, O’Keeffe said, “It’s easier to be the hunter than the hunted. I knew I was ready for a strong race. I just didn’t know what that would translate to.”

Even after bouncing back from a fall in the fourth mile, Bor, bloodied head and all, produced a 46:06 that took down an even older men’s course record, Abdi Abdirahman’s 46:35 from ’09. He earned $12,000 for his win over Sam Chelanga (46:14) and Biya Simbassa (46:29). Shadrack Kipchirchir edged Reed Fischer for 4th as they both crossed in 46:40.

Amsterdam Marathon: Ayana Debuts At 2:17:20

Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 16—Almaz Ayana had been laying low for a few years but the ’16 Olympic 10,000 winner is back in the headlines, crafting the fastest-ever first-time marathon in history with her 2:17:20 course record win here.

The Ethiopian star, now 30, broke away from another notable first-timer, 1500 WR holder Genzebe Dibaba, in the last 7K. Dibaba finished in 2:18:05. Behind her, more big debuts came from Tsehay Gemechu (2:18:59) and Nasnet Amaneul (2:22:45).

Ayana, who had surgery on both knees in recent years and also gave birth, kept her words to a minimum after her win: “Very happy. Long time.”

The men’s race came down to the kick, with Ethiopian Tsegaye Getachew PRing in 2:04:49 ahead of Kenyan Titus Kipruto (2:04:54) and fellow Ethiopian Bazezew Asmare (2:04:57).

Valencia Half: Kandie & Klosterhalfen

Valencia, Spain; October 23—Kibiwott Kandie smacked around a top-flight field of distance runners to come out on top of the Valencia Half-Marathon with a sterling 58:10.

The Kenyan bided his time early, passing 10K in 27:51 accompanied by 9 others on a hot, humid day. He waited until 13K to make a big move, and none of his competitors could muster an effective response. His third 5K took 13:26 (41:17 at 15K) and he had already built up a 10-second margin. He more than doubled that gap before the finish.

“Despite the humidity, I felt great throughout and decided to increase the pace after midway, I’m quite satisfied with my performance,” said Kandie.

Yomif Kejelcha nabbed the Ethiopian Record with his 58:32 runner-up finish, while Daniel Mateiko finished 3rd in 58:40. Tadese Worku, running his first-ever 13.1, clocked 58:47.

Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, another debutante, waited till the last kilo before moving to a 1:05:41 win over Ethiopians Tsige Gebreselama (1:05:45) and Hawi Feysa (1:06:00). I’m both surprised and delighted with what I’ve managed today,” she said. ◻︎