AFTER BATTLE WITH FLANAGAN, HUDDLE SETS 12-K WORLD BEST
By David Monti, @d9monti
Va. (17-Nov) — Ten kilometers into the 12-K .US Road Running
Championships here this morning, time seemed to stand still for Molly
Huddle and Shalane Flanagan. Their ponytails bobbing behind them, the
two national record-holders ran side by side through the quiet streets
of this picturesque Washington, D.C. suburb. Eyes always focused ahead,
they almost seemed frozen in place.
But their pace was anything
but glacial. Alerted the day before about Deena Kastor’s American
record of 38:24, the pair saw a rare opportunity to set a national
record in a national championships on the final day of their
competitive seasons. After leaving the rest of the field far behind
while flying through the first 5-K in 15:42, Flanagan led by half a
stride and knew it was going to be a special day.
if we keep this up it’s really fast,” Flanagan told Race Results Weekly
after the race. “Whoever can hang tough and keep this pace up, will run
Indeed. Huddle and Flanagan ran just over three
minutes per kilometer for the final 2-K, notching the two fastest 12-K
road running performances in history: 37:50 for Huddle and 37:58 for
Flanagan. Not only did they shatter Kastor’s record, but also Lineth
Chepkurui’s Association of Road Running Statisticians’ world record of
38:10 from the Lilac Bloomsday Run in 2010 (the IAAF does not ratify
12-K world records).
In essence, the race for the $20,000
winner’s check was only two kilometers long. After the 10-K mark, a
nervous waiting game began as they made the right turn onto the long
straightaway on Fairfax Street in the 11th kilometer. They knew they
were going to get Kastor’s record, but who should make the first move
for the win?
“I just didn’t know how much Molly had left
because it’s an unknown distance for her,” Flanagan explained. “For me,
I’m rounding into shape; I really didn’t know how fit I was.”
the 11th kilometer, Huddle put in two surges to test Flanagan, and she
covered both of them. But after turning left for the short downhill on
Gibbon Street just before the finish straight, Huddle hit the gas,
hard, and opened up her first serious lead. Before that point she had
been holding back.
“I was trying to save a little bit in case
Shalane dropped a hard mile,” Huddle said. “I knew the race would start
with maybe two miles to go. I felt pretty within myself. But, like
Shalane said, 12-K is kind of an unusual distance for me so I didn’t
know if the bottom would drop out at any point.”
With the early morning sun reflecting off of the Potomac River on her
right, Huddle eased away from Flanagan in the final 300 meters on North
Union Street. Not only did she win the race, but her victory gave her
45 USA Running Circuit points, assuring her of the overall series title
and an additional $6000. It was Huddle’s second national road running
title this year; she also won the 5-K last September.
Huddle and Flanagan acknowledged that their fast times today were only
possible because they had run together and pushed each other. Their
mutual admiration was readily evident, and they were clearly enjoying
“I’m taking some credit for Molly’s record,” Flanagan teased. “I was a good rabbit for her.”
them Laura Thweatt put in a strong performance to take third in 39:15.
The former Colorado Buffalo said it was the best race of her nascent
“That was my breakout race,” she said beaming. “I’m so happy.”
Kim Conley finished fourth in 39:29, and Kellyn Johnson rounded out the
top-5 in 39:48. The USA Running Circuit points leader prior to the
race, Mattie Suver finished 16th. A total of 25 women completed the
race out of 26 starters; Lindsey Scherf was the only dropout.
Molly Huddle (left) and Shalane Flanagan at the 7 kilometer mark of the
2013 .US Road Running Championships in Alexandria, Va.