Chelimo by a Nano-Second – RI’s Sisson, BAA’s Kemp Go 1-2 at US 5K Championships

By Rich Sands, @sands
(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (03-Nov) — Paul Chelimo needed every inch of the course to win the men’s title at the USATF 5-K Championships here this morning, while Emily Sisson locked up the women’s division with more than half the race remaining. The event was held as part of the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5-K, which shares the famous Central Park finish line with Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon.

On a wet and unseasonably warm morning, with temperatures at 60F/16C as the gun went off at the United Nations, Chelimo and his Colorado Springs-based training partners Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei set a fast tempo, immediately stringing out the field. In the second mile as they worked their way north up Avenue of the Americas towards Central Park, their lead reached 50 meters.

Over the final mile looping through the twisting, lower portion of the park the trio remained bunched together. Finally, with 200 meters to go Chelimo and Kipchirchir pulled away from Kebenei and battled uphill to the line. The leaders tangled arms in a furious sprint, with Chelimo barely getting the edge at the tape. Both men clocked 13:45 to trim one second off the course record set by New Zealand’s Nick Willis in 2013.

“I want to thank my teammates,” said Chelimo, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the 5000 meters, his finger bandaged after cutting himself on a shower curtain ring at his hotel this morning. “These guys make it honest. They were about to drop me, too, but I was the toughest out there today.”

Kebenei (13:53) was a clear third, while Erik Jenkins (14:00) edged Kirubel Erassa (14:01) for fourth. Reigning Olympic 1500-meter champion Matthew Centrowitz finished eighth in 14:02.

“The plan was to take us it out hard as we can,” Kipchirchir told Race Results Weekly. Though he won this race last year off a slow pace and crowded finish, he knew that can be a risky strategy. “We didn’t want it to be a 1500-meter race or an 800-meter race or a 200-meter race. This was a 5-K. From the gun we just wanted to make it honest and whoever wins has to earn it. That’s what happened.”

Chelimo finished fourth last year and he was determined to take the title this time around. “I wasn’t going to lose it today, to be honest,” he said. “If I lost it today I wouldn’t show up next year, guarantee, 100 percent. Now there’s a probability of me coming back next year because I’m a happy man.”

The women’s race went off five minutes after the men, with Amy Cragg, Kim Conley and Shalaya Kipp joining Sisson at the front of the pack. Sisson, who finished second in the USATF 5-K championships in 2016 and third in 2015, completed her collection of medals by slowly ratcheting up the pace. “I thought someone else was gonna take it out and make it faster,” she said. “I think we went through the mile in like 5:03, 5:04, and nobody should be dropped at that pace, really, so I’ll pick it up the second mile.”

The Providence College grad had a 10-meter lead as they passed Radio City Music Hall roughly halfway through the race and extended that margin to 30 meters as she hit the second mile marker entering Central Park. With a relaxed expression on her face she continued to run comfortably well clear of the field. “I didn’t know how much I’d gapped it or it spread out, because I didn’t really ever look back,” she said. “Someone told me with like 600 meters to go that I had 15 seconds on second place, so I told myself, keep running, keep pushing.”

She hit the tape in 15:38, while unheralded Erika Kemp finished second in 15:50, four seconds ahead of Cragg. Conley (16:01) and Kipp (16:03) rounded out the top five.

Sisson, who plans to make her marathon debut in the spring, rebounded from a spring injury for her second win in less than a month, following a victory at the Reebok Boston 10-K on Columbus Day. “I love the roads, that’s my favorite,” she said, “so I’m glad that I came around by this time of year.”

Kemp, who graduated from North Carolina State in the spring, moved into second place with about 1200 meters to go after rounding a sharp turn in the park. “It was kind of surreal, because I kept forgetting it was a U.S. championship,” she said. “I was telling myself to try not to get overwhelmed by the names that you’re lining up against because they’re Olympians and U.S. champs, and they have crazy fast PRs. I’m glad I took a chance and went for it.”

Newly signed with the Boston Athletic Association, Kemp finished 10th in the 5000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships this year and has a track best of 15:41.23 from 2017.

Chelimo and Sisson each earned U.S. $12,000 each for their victories, part of a $60,000 purse, the largest total purse of any 5-K road race in the world.

PHOTO: Emily Sisson on her way to winning the 2018 USA 5-K title at the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5-K in New York City (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

PHOTO: Paul Chelimo (left) beats Shadrack Kipchirchir for the 2018 USA 5-K title at the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5-K in New York City (photo courtesy of New York Road Runners)

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