March 16, 2004
After a fierce battle with fellow 2000 Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, UCLA great Meb Keflezighi of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., won his fourth consecutive USA men's 15 km road title Saturday at the 2004 Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida. His time of 43 minutes, 18 seconds edged Abdirahman by two seconds. Keflezighi, 28, joins Team Running USA teammate Deena Kastor (formerly Drossin) as the only four-time consecutive 15 km national champions. U.S. 15 km record holder Todd Williams earned five USA 15 km titles.
In the women's race, three-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck of Boulder, Colo., won her first USA 15 km crown decisively. She and national runner-up Sylvia Mosqueda of Los Angeles, both prepping for the upcoming Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis, ran side-by-side until the 4 kilometer mark before De Reuck, 39, broke free and continued to build her lead. Her final winning margin was over a minute, 49:02 to 50:08.
In a new twist at Gate River, the elite women were given a 5:16 head start to compete for the inaugural "Equalizer Bonus" of $5,000 presented to the first champion to cross the finish line. De Reuck held the Bonus lead until just past the 8-mile mark before being overtaken by the men's leaders Keflezighi and Abdirahman. The final margin of Bonus victory was 28 seconds, with the battle being won on the home stretch.
The duel between Keflezighi and Abdirahman, who resides in Tucson, was joined from the start. Eventual third place finisher, Chris Graff, the 2003 USA 10 Mile national champion, stayed close for the first five miles until the top two began to lengthen their advantage. The pair ran together through mile 8 and then traded the lead until Keflezighi - who recently finished second at the Olympic Marathon Trials to earn a trip to Athens - took control with 200 meters to go.
For his "double" win, Keflezighi took home $15,000 including the Equalizer Bonus with De Reuck claiming a check of $10,000. For their national runner-up finishes, Abdirahman and Mosqueda each earned $4,000 as part of the record $52,000 USA Championships prize purse.
As the second stop for men and first event for women on the 2004 USA Running Circuit, the top 10 U.S. runners earned USARC points at Gate River. With his win, Keflezighi moved into first place with 39 points, while Olympic Marathon Trials champion Alan Culpepper is second (30 points). For the women, De Reuck, the 2002-03 USARC GP champion, holds the #1 spot in the standings.
The USARC, a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from the 5 km to the marathon and offers over $820,000 in prize money. Per USARC race, the first ten U.S. runners earn points (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1) with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6,000, $4,000 and $2,500) for the top three men and women.
Brittany Brockman 6(superscript: th) - 21:37 Waco, Texas Alison Costello 1(superscript: st) - 20:55 Los Angeles, California Amber Harper 3(superscript: rd) - 21:19 Provo, Utah Amanda Trotter 5(superscript: th) - 21:34 Palo Alto, California Katherine Trotter 2(superscript: nd) - 21:06 Palo Alto, California
2003 IAAF World Cross Country Championships Schedule of Events:
March 20, 2004: 12:40 p.m. Junior Women's 6 km 1:30 p.m., Senior Men's 4 km 1:30 p.m., Senior Women's 8 km 2:10 p.m.
March 21, 2004: Junior Men's 8 km 1:15 p.m., Senior Women's 4 km 2:15 p.m., Senior Men's 12 km 2:45 p.m.
For more information on the 2004 World Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.