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Huddle Dominates .US 12K, Collegian Top Male

HUDDLE DOMINATES, SHRADER UPSETS AT .US 12-K CHAMPIONSHIPS
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

ALEXANDRIA,
VA (16-Nov) — On a cold and cloudy morning here, Molly Huddle cemented
her status as America’s top road runner, retaining her .US 12-K
Championships title and winning the overall USA Road Circuit (USARC)
crown with ease. While her win was widely expected, the narrow victory
by Brian Shrader of Northern Arizona University in a new American
record time came as a total shock in the men’s race, out-sprinting
defending champion Aaron Braun and Olympian Diego Estrada. Huddle
clocked 38:08 and Shrader 34:11.

RECORD FOURTH ROAD RUNNING TITLE OF 2014 FOR HUDDLE

Although
Huddle, 30, who lives and trains in Providence, R.I., ran slower than
her world best time set here last year, she nonetheless set an honest
pace right from the start at Oronoco Park next to the Potomac River.
She was the race leader at 5 km (15:58), but was followed closely by
Sara Hall (15:59), Kim Conley and her Providence College training
partner Emily Sisson (16:04). Already, the race was going according to
plan, she said.

“I wanted to take it out between five and 5:10
(per mile pace), and I felt OK hitting 5:10’s all the way through,”
Huddle told Race Results Weekly. “That was about as much as I could do
alone.”

Unlike last year when Huddle was matching strides with
marathon ace Shalane Flanagan, by 8 km (25:31) she was already alone,
up by 13 seconds on Conley, Hall and Sisson who were running together.
But Huddle did not want to leave anything to chance, and continued to
press: her victory meant an overall payday of $45,000 ($20,000 for the
race win plus $25,000 for the overall USARC title).

“I knew
Sara was in good shape, and Kim, and I knew Emily –I don’t know if
anyone else knew that Emily was in that good a shape. Ideally for me,
going one-two was what we wanted to do.”

Sisson, who has NCAA
eligibility left for both the 2015 indoor and outdoor seasons, began to
ease away from Conley and Hall. Huddle clipped through 10-K in 31:57,
with Sisson 10 seconds back and Conley and Hall both at 32:23. Huddle,
whose long season began with an indoor 5000m back in early March, upped
her tempo in the final two kilometers to win in 38:08. Sisson came home
second (38:21) followed by Conley (38:42) and Hall (38:48).

With
today’s victory, Huddle became the first-ever American woman to claim
four national road running titles in one year, part of a dream season
where she also won the national 5000m title, broke her own American
record at that distance (14:42.64), ran the world-leading time for
5000m indoors (15:13.86), set the American 10 km road running record
for an all-women’s race (31:37), and ran the fastest half-marathon by
an American woman this year (1:09:04). For grins, she also ran the
second-fastest mile in the world for 2014: 4:26.84.

“I’m very
fortunate,” Huddle said of her best-ever season. “I mean, even just a
season where you don’t get hurt or sick or anything is a lucky season.
So, to tick off all the PR’s I was hoping to run, then a few big road
wins I wasn’t expecting, was just really great. I hope I can take this
momentum into next year.”

COLLEGIAN SHRADER OVERWHELMS PRO MEN

The
men’s race had only one leader for 99% of the distance: defending
champion Aaron Braun. The 27 year-old from Alamosa, Colo., was the
strongest athlete in the field, and everyone else was content to let
him set the pace.

“The first few miles were a little slower
than I wanted it to be,” Braun told Race Results Weekly. “I wanted it
to be, like, 4:35/4:40. But, that’s where I felt most comfortable.”

Wearing
a warm hat to fight off the cold, Braun towed a huge lead pack of 21
men through the 5 km mark in 14:37. To Braun’s right, wearing a white
“NAU” singlet, was Shrader, along with Mexican Olympian (now a USA
citizen), Diego Estrada, and USARC points leader Christo Landry among
others. Off of a 4:45 first mile, which is uphill, Braun was slowly
ramping up the pace to whittle down the lead pack.

“If someone
had been kind of running with me, maybe I could have run a little
faster,” Braun explained. “But, I didn’t want to be too restless when I
was the only one in front.”

Remarkably, 13 men were still in
contention at 8 km, despite a very honest split of 23:11. Braun wasn’t
paying attention to any one in particular, but was watching the clock.
He needed to make the race faster and burn off as many people as
possible before the final kilometer.

“The fourth mile was,
like, 4:25, and after that I was like, hopefully that will do a little
damage. It didn’t seem to do as much as I thought it would,” Braun
lamented.

Shrader had no particular plan. He was just trying to
stay with the leaders on the long final straightaway on South Union
Street before the finish. All he knew was that he had the fitness to
contend.

“I knew I was in good shape,” he told Race Results Weekly. “I tried to stick my nose in it and I got it in the end.”

In
the final 200 meters, Shrader pulled away easily from Braun and Estrada
to win in a new USA record of 31:11 (34:10.1). Estrada got the best of
Braun to finish second (34:12), and Braun got third (34:14).

“I’m really speechless,” a stunned Shrader said right after his victory.

Because
he has NCAA eligibility remaining, Shrader can’t accept the full
$20,000 in prize money and still compete for Northern Arizona on the
track in the spring. Under present NCAA rules, he is only able to
accept prize money up to the expenses he incurred to participate in the
race (the same applies to Emily Sisson in the women’s race).

Finishing
back in 8th place was Christo Landry who won the overall USARC points
title (he had an insurmountable lead prior to the start). Looking
slightly deflated, he was nonetheless happy to take the overall crown
and the $25,000 season-ending bonus.

“I’m happy with it,” he
told Race Results Weekly. “I ran the same time as last year and I’m
four places back! It’s nice to meet one of your goals going into the
season. I’m very happy with this year.”

PHOTO: Molly
Huddle leads Kim Conley (orange shorts), Sara Hall (black uniform) and
Emily Sisson at the 2014 .US 12-K Championships

PHOTO: Brian Shrader winning his first
USA road running title at the 2014 .US 12-K Championships in an
American record 34:11

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