JACKSONVILLE – Olympians Anthony Famiglietti (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Amy Yoder Begley each won close races for the respective men’s and women’s titles Saturday at the USA 15 km Championships in Jacksonville, Fla. Famiglietti used a last-second burst of speed to hold off Tim Nelson (Portland, Ore.), running 43:36 to win the men’s race by one second, while Yoder Begley kicked past Katie McGregor (Saint Louis Park, Minn.) in the final 400 meters to win the women’s race by six seconds in 49:51. This marks the 16th year that the championships have been hosted by the Gate River Run.
The elite women’s race started the day under cool, cloudy conditions as Yoder Begley, McGregor, Emily Brown (Minneapolis Minn.), Elva Dryer (Gunnison, Colo.) led more than 50 of the top U.S. women through the opening miles.
By six miles, the race was down to three contenders with Yoder Begley, McGregor and Brown running stride for stride through eight miles when McGregor attempted to break her competitors as they started across the challenging Hart Bridge towards the finish. However, Yoder Begley remained close, waiting until the finish was in sight to move to the front and claim her first USA 15 km title.
Brown easily held on for third in 50:03 as Dryer and Melissa White (Rochester Hills, Mich.) completed the top-five, running 50:40 and 50:45 respectively.
The men’s race saw a sizable pack of nearly 30 men pass the first mile in 4:39, though Famiglietti was not to be seen in the front of the pack until a decisive surge to the lead at three miles. By the time he hit 5 km in 14:31 Famiglietti had ten meters on the chase pack that included fellow Olympians Ian Dobson (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Jorge Torres (Boulder, Colo.), as well as USA Cross Country runner-up Nelson, Fazil Bizuneh (Flagstaff, Calif.) and 2004 Olympian Dan Browne (Beaverton, Ore.).
As Famiglietti rhythmically rolled through the next five miles, he steadily built a lead of nearly 20 seconds but with the only major hill on the course going over the Hart Bridge, Nelson, Bizuneh and Browne began to cut into Famiglietti’s lead. At the top of the bridge Nelson pulled clear of Bizuneh and Browne and began his charge to catch Famiglietti.
By the time he passed the nine mile mark, Famiglietti only held a five second lead over Nelson and as the pair hit the final flat stretch to the finish Nelson surprised Famiglietti by pulling even with about 100 meters to go but it was Famiglietti that had one more gear as he shot to the finish for his first USA 15 km crown.
Bizuneh held on for third, running 43:52, with Browne taking fourth in 43:56. Torres got past Dobson to take fifth by one second in 44:05.
A total prize purse of $58,000 was on the line with Famiglietti and Yoder Begley earning $12,000 each for their U.S. titles.
Famiglietti also won the Equalizer Bonus of $5,000 that is awarded to the first male or female to cross the finish line, as the top-seeded women started 5 minutes before the men with “head start” based on the time differential between men’s and women’s U.S. 15 km records: 42:22 for the men (Todd Williams, 1995) and 47:15 for the women (Deena Drossin, 2003), both set on the Gate River Run course.
For the second time in 2009, video highlights of the USA 15 km Championships and pre- and post-race video interviews with top athletes will be made available throughout race weekend in cooperation with Flotrack.com.
About the USARC
The USA 15 km Championship was the second stop on the 2009 USA Running Circuit (USARC), and featured a total championship prize purse of $53,500 plus potential bonuses.
The 2009 USARC is a USA Track & Field road series, featuring USA Championships from one mile to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners. The 2009 USARC has ten events each for men and women.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6,000, $4,000, and $2,500) for the top three men and women point scorers overall. The USARC points at the USA Marathon Championships will be doubled.
The mission of the USA Running Circuit is to showcase, support, and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $6 million dollars to U.S. distance runners.
For more information and video highlights from the 2009 USA 15 km Championships visit http://www.usatf.org.