Kipchirchir, Huddle Top USATF 5K Fields
NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador Molly Huddle was chasing her 25th U.S. title on Saturday, going back almost a decade, while Shadrack Kipchirchir was seeking his second, going back just 35 days. Huddle took an early lead, while Kipchirchir had to battle a huge pack in which the top eight men finished within four seconds of each other.
The outcome, however, was the same—a victory in the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K, which served as the 2017 USATF 5K Championships. Huddle’s winning time of 15:24 was an Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K event record, with Kipchirchir crossing the line in 13:57.
For their victories, each won $12,000—part of a prize purse of more than $60,000, the largest 5K prize purse in the world. Starting at the United Nations, the athletes passed Grand Central Terminal and ran up 42nd Street to Sixth Avenue, into Central Park, finishing at the TCS New York City Marathon finish line. There were 10 Olympians in the field, leading a group of more than 10,000 runners behind them in the mass race. Read more about the mass race here.
Surprise runner-up in the men’s race was Tommy Curtin in 13:58—“I was hoping for top five,” he said—with Kirubel Erassa third in the same time. Both made their first U.S. podiums. For the women, Molly Seidel finished second in 15:35 in her first road race at any distance as a professional, and Natosha Rogers, the reigning USATF Half-Marathon champion, was third in 15:39.
Kipchirchir, a 2016 Olympian at 10,000 meters whose first USATF title came on October 1 at 10 miles, might have been considered an underdog in a field that included Ben True, the 5K American record-holder and two-time national champion, and Leonard Korir, who had already won four U.S. titles this year.
The 28-year-old who trains in Colorado Springs, however, felt otherwise, calling himself a “really good 10K guy” who simply hadn’t had the chance to run a really fast 5K until now.
“I respect them, but I didn’t care,” said Kipchirchir, who until last month had recorded a string of second-place finishes in U.S. championships races. “I just came here to win.”
Huddle, 33, and the three-time defending champion of the United Airlines NYC Half, proved that her late decision to join the field was a good one. Her 11-second victory resulted in her sixth U.S. 5K title, tying her with Lynn Jennings for the most ever. She insisted, however, that she takes nothing for granted.
“We have such depth on the American women’s side that you can’t just relax and count a win before the race starts,” she said. “It’s always hard. I’m always on my toes. I just assumed everyone was still there at the end, or could make a move, so I tried to push all the way to the finish and keep stretching it at the end. The course record surprised me. I didn’t think I would run that fast.”
After saying that she was using the race to test herself, Huddle was asked how she would rate her results.
“I passed,” she said with a laugh.