MECHANICSVILLE, VIRGINIA, January 21 — The ’17 NCAA XC champion for New Mexico, who garnered three top 10 finishes for the Lobos as a Kenyan citizen, Ednah Kurgat raced her way back to the top in a major with a win at the USATF XC Champs.
Kurgat — 31 and a U.S. citizen since February of ’21 after enlisting in the Army post-graduation — stomped on the accelerator at the 8K post, the finish of lap 4 on the 5-circuit 10K course and tore out of a lead pack of 6 women who all ended up making the Team USA squad for the World XC Championships.
With her race-busting 3:05.7 split to 9K and a final 2K covered in 6:08.9, Kurgat, in a black Army singlet and shorts, demoed quick short strides over the terrain and power on the hills to finish 17 seconds up on ’20 Colorado grad Makena Morley.
Kurgat’s time, 32:07, was the fastest since 10K was adopted as the championships distance in ’16 and her injection of pace had strung out the women who will be her teammates for the Worlds in Oz: Morley (32:24); two Emilys from coach Terrence Mahon’s Golden Coast TC, Durgin (32:27) and Lipari (32:32); Under Armour/Dark Sky’s Weini Kelati (32:39) and Golden Coaster Katie Izzo (32:40).
That group, which formed the lead pack from 5K (16:11.8 with Durgin leading) onward, had forged a 20-second gap back to 7th-placer Allie Buchalski by the finish and all are first-time World Cross team qualifiers.
“I felt really confident coming into it cuz it’s something I’ve prepared for throughout since the last track season,” Kurgat told usatf.tv’s marathon standout guest interviewer Keira D’Amato. “I looked forward for the cross country because it’s one of my favorites to prepare for. So I prepared for it and I was confident coming into it and I wanted to leave everything out there.”
As she laid down her breakaway, Kurgat said, “I didn’t think of anything but I just wanted to leave all I’ve got and if anyone catches me I know I did my best.”
Kelati — also an NCAA champion (’19) for New Mexico with a trifecta of top-10 placings in the collegiate harrier title meet — took the lead from the gun but soon settled in with what was a lead group of 11 through 3K (9:41.3) on the fast manicured dirt and grass route.
Kelati later revealed she missed training with a foot injury during race week.
Attrition exacted its toll in kilos 4 and 5, and by the halfway mark the front gaggle of 6 had set themselves apart. Veterans Susanna Sullivan and Laura Thweatt had been the last two to lose contact.
But once Sergeant Kurgat dropped her hammer, the race was all hers.
USATF WOMEN’S XC RESULTS
10K: 1. Ednah Kurgat (AllArmy) 32:07; 2. Makena Morley (Asics) 32:24; 3. Emily Durgin (adi) 32:27; 4. Emily Lipari (adi/GCoast) 32:32; 5. Weini Kelati (UA/DS) 32:39; 6. Katie Izzo (adi) 32:40;
7. Allie Buchalski (Brk) 33:02; 8. Susanna Sullivan (unat) 33:14; 9. Laura Thweatt (Sauc) 33:17; 10. Carrie Verdon (TBoulder) 33:33; 11. Katrina Spratford (unat) 33:36; 12. Katie Camarena (unat) 33:42; 13. Stephanie Bruce (Hoka/NAzE) 33:50; 14. Sam Nadel (ACDC) 34:02; 15. Jessa Hanson (Puma/Verde) 34:05; 16. Michaela Reinhart (unat) 34:27; 17. Kaitlyn Peale (BowTC) 34:34; 18. Sophia King (unat) 35:28; 19. Claire Benjamin (unat) 35:51; 20. Katrina Coogan (NBalB) 36:00; 21. Paige Hofstad (unat) 36:08; 22. Carter Norbo (unat) 36:11; 23. Colett Rampf (AllArmy) 36:21; 24. Rachel Viger (USN) 36:54; 25. Madison Trippett (Richmond) 37:10.
6K: 1. Irene Riggs (unat) 19:45; 2. Ellie Shea (MaHS) 19:48; 3. Zariel Macchia (FlHS) 20:05; 4. Abbey Nechanicky (MnHS) 20:07; 5. Karri Baloga (NYHS) 20:07; 6. Eva Klingbeil (NC) 20:11;
7. Peyton Schieppe (Bradley) 20:26; 8. Allie Zealand (VaHS) 20:32; 9. Ali Weimer (Mn) 20:53; 10. Elia Ton-That (Col) 21:04.