Pro Preview: Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K and USATF 5K Championships
When Molly Huddle and Ben True line up in front of the United Nations Headquarters for Saturday’s Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K and USATF 5K Championships, they will do so as the American record-holders. Huddle will be chasing her sixth national title at the distance, True; his third.
But they will be quick to tell you that tackling the 5K never gets old, and it never gets easy.
“It’s a special distance,” said True, who will be racing the event for the third time and is a four-time winner of the B.A.A. 5K. His most recent victory there came this spring, when he broke his own American record with a win in 13:20 in an event, just like Saturday’s, that takes place on the weekend of an Abbott World Marathon Major race in the same city.
In New York, True will take full advantage of the proximity, with front-row seats to Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon as part of NYRR’s lead vehicle program. It will give him a 26.2-mile look at a city in which he has seen some memorable performances, becoming the first American man to win a Diamond League 5000-meter race and becoming the first American in eight years to win the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K, both in 2015.
True, 31, and Huddle, 33, come to the start line as heavy hitters in the USATF 5K Championships, which will feature 10 Olympians and six Team USA World Championship contenders. They’ll lead a mass field of 10,000 runners before finishing in Central Park at the TCS New York City Marathon finish line. For the first time, the race will serve as the USATF 5K Championships, with its total prize purse of $60,000 the largest for any road 5K in the world. The race will be shown live on USATF.TV beginning at 8:20 a.m. ET.
Huddle, an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador, three-time United Airlines NYC Half defending champion, and two-time Olympian holds the American record at 10,000 meters thanks to her sixth-place finish in Rio. She will be seeking her second win on this course, at which she holds the event record of 15:27. She also owns the event record for the USATF 5K Championships, at 15:10.
A late entry, Huddle—who last year pounded the streets here in the marathon, finishing third in her debut at the distance—said she recently saw “a glimmer of fitness,” which was all it took to get her back to New York.
“It being a U.S. championship, that’s important to me,” said Huddle, who called the 5K her favorite distance.
Among the key rivals to the American record-holder (14:50) will be Molly Seidel, a four-time NCAA Champion making her professional road-racing debut after winning the B.A.A. Mayor’s Cup cross country race on Oct. 22; two-time Olympic marathoner Des Linden; three-time World Championship racer Brenda Martinez; and Abbey D’Agostino, who finished second to Seidel at the Mayor’s Cup in her first competition since being injured in the 5000-meter semifinal at the 2016 Olympics.
True, who holds three of the five-fastest 5K times in U.S. history, will most likely be challenged by Paul Chelimo, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist at 5000 meters, and Leonard Korir, surprise winner of the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half who has already won U.S. titles this year at 10K, 15K, the half marathon and cross country.
Neither Huddle, who holds five of the 10 fastest 5K times in history by an American woman, nor True, who owns three of the top five for men, quite knows what to expect of their fitness in this race.
“I’ll be running with a lot of heart as opposed to with a lot of fitness,” said True, with a wide smile and glint in his eye.
“It will be a good, hard, painful run,” agreed Huddle. “It’ll be a great battle up front, for sure.”