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Tegenkamp Defends at New Haven, Surprise Women’s Winner

TEGENKAMP DEFENDS, PEYTON SURPRISES AT USA 20-K CHAMPS
By David Monti, @d9monti

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

NEW
HAVEN, CONN. (02-Sep) — With a patient approach, Matt Tegenkamp shook
off the effects the soaking humidity and misting rain here today, and
retained his USA 20-K title at the 36th Stratton Faxon New Haven Road
Race. While his victory –his sixth national title– was expected,
Meghan Peyton was the surprise winner on the women’s side, earning her
first national crown.

For Tegenkamp, 31, who will make his
marathon debut in Chicago next month, today’s race was an important
test of his overall fitness, and the two-time Olympian gave himself
more than a passing grade. He said he was particularly pleased with the
outcome because he had to fight off a cramp which struck him in the
first five kilometers.

“That was an ‘A’ effort,” Tegenkamp told
Race Results Weekly. “That was off of a tough week of training. Friday
culminated five weeks of really intense volume, and starting the
intensity which, actually, would make you more tired.” He continued:
“Saturday and Sunday was my, quote, taper for this, and try to have
just a little more bounce in the legs.”

Tegenkamp, who lives
and trains in Portland, Ore., stayed nestled within the lead pack of 11
through 5-K (14:51), and let early leaders Ben Bruce, Augustus Maiyo,
Joseph Chirlee and Shadrack Biwott do most of the work. He focused
mostly on four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman and just tried to stay on
the pace which he thought was overly ambitious given the 90% humidity.

“Nobody
took into account any humidity,” Tegenkamp said just after he finished.
“I mean, it’s a race. You’ve got to go and you don’t know what
everybody’s going to do. It was so humid.”

In the 7th
kilometer, as the lead pack passed the famous Yale Bowl, Abdirahman
suddenly grimaced, did a few hops, and reached down to grab the back of
his right leg. He said later that something just popped.

“Something just popped in my hamstring,” said Abdirahman.

Just
past 8-K, reached in about 23:50, Biwott swerved left to pick up a cup
of water, dumped it over his head, then surged ahead of the field.
Shooting a few glances back to the field, he saw that only Tegenkamp,
Abdirahman and Chirlee had responded. By 10-K (29:35) the race was down
to just four.

“These guys probably noticed that that I was
hurting, and this guy takes to the front,” Abdirahman said pointing at
Biwott who couldn’t help but smile.

Every time the race went
downhill, Abdirahman would fall back because of his hamstring, then
catch up on the flat section which followed. He was clearly struggling
to maintain contact with the other three men.

“I almost dropped out,” he said.

As
the race approached 15-K, Chirlee was unable to hold the pace, and fell
back. He would finish fifth, passed eventually by Josphat Boit.
Tegenkamp stayed focused and tried to envision himself during the long
grind of a marathon. He was careful to pick up his drinks and run the
tangents of the course.

“I’ve talked to a lot of veteran
marathoners, and they said that the most important thing about the
marathon is you’ve got to be able to manage the down parts, the bad
parts of the race,” he explained. “And that’s what I was trying to do,
conserve some energy. It’s a long race and start it when there’s four
miles (6.4 km) to go.”

Just past 10 miles (16 km) in 48:25,
Tegenkamp made his first significant move. He quickly put two steps on
both Abdirahman and Biwott, but Abdirahman was soon able to catch up.
Tegenkamp waited, then pushed again with about a kilometer to go.
Abdirahman couldn’t respond this time, and Tegenkamp glided to the
finish adjacent to New Haven Green in 1:00:10, well off 58:30
championships record from last year. He earned $9000 in prize money.

“I
feel really good,” Tegenkamp said, adding that he was “really looking
forward to the process” of completing his marathon training.

Behind
him, Biwott was able to catch up to Abdirahman, and pass him for second
inside of the final 10 meters. He timed 1:00:20, one second up on
Abdirahman.

“He’s a tough guy, man,” Biwott said of Abdirahman.
“This guy’s an animal, period. You can’t underestimate him. He can limp
with one leg, but he’ll make you work for it.”

Peyton, 27, of
Minneapolis, not only won the race, but did so by a surprisingly big
margin of 28 seconds. Only Mattie Suver of Colorado Springs could stay
close to her in the latter stages of the race after she left the main
pack about halfway through the race. She seemed slightly stunned
speaking with Race Results Weekly after breaking the tape.

“I’m
really excited,” said Peyton, who was timed in 1:09:57. “When I got the
lead at 6 miles (just before 10-K), I just kept repeating to myself,
‘you can win it, you have to believe, win it, you can believe in
yourself.'”

Peyton, who finished 16th in this race last year,
said she had come to New Haven to contend for a high finish, despite
not significantly cutting her training volume in advance of the USA
Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon in one month’s time.

“I
knew I was in good shape, but I was aiming for top-5,” said the
Saucony-sponsored athlete who runs for Team USA Minnesota. “Until I got
into the race, then I was, like, ‘I can win this, I can do it.'” She
added: “It’s amazing. It’s something you dream of all the time.”

Suver, who is running the ING New York City Marathon in two months time, was also satisfied with her effort.

“I
couldn’t quite get her,” said Suver. She continued: “I definitely
didn’t do much of a taper for this. The New York City Marathon is the
goal, and I have a workout tonight after this race, actually. Today’s a
double.”

The third podium spot went to former University of
Wisconsin runner Caitlin Comfort, the reigning Big 10 10,000m champion,
in 1:10:43.

PHOTO: Matt Tegenkamp (l) and Abdi Abdirahman
battle it out in the final 2 kilometers of the 2013 USA 20-K
Championships at the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race; Shadrack
Biwott is behind Tegenkamp .

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