The two Olympians won their respective races handily.
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK — Olympians swept the top spots at the 2014 NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K, as steeplechaser Donn Cabral and triathlete Gwen Jorgensen were the first across the iconic Central Park finish line in 14:24 and 16:03, respectively. It is the first time in the event’s three year history that Americans swept first place on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Racing in chilly rand rainy conditions, Cabral led nearly the entire way from the start adjacent to the United Nations to the finish near Tavern on The Green in Central Park. Splitting 4:35 for one mile and 9:22 for two, Cabral was joined by roughly twelve athletes, a majority of whom are natives of Ethiopia that train and reside in the New York City area for part of the year.
PHOTOS: NYRR Dash To The Finish 5K
Sticking out among the group thanks to his bright neon green kit, Cabral wasn’t at all concerned doing all the pacing duties.
“Even though I was leading I just kept telling myself, ‘Even though you’re leading, you’re not killing yourself. I’m leading right now but this is well within me,” he said. “I was ready at all times to make a move and cover a move.”
With a kilometer remaining, it appeared that the pack was about to surpass Cabral, led by Eritrea’s Yonas Mebrahtu. Yet seconds after Mebrahtu took over first, Cabral injected a surge and left the pack well behind.
Cabral’s lead would increase in the final 400 meters before the Princeton alum broke the tape first in 14:24.
“This was kind of the start of faster stuff, start of things harder than tempo pace. The goal was to just get a win and get one notch more comfortable with the faster stuff,” he said. “I’m happy.”
Cabral said he used this race as a tune up for the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving in his home state of Connecticut. There he hopes to improve upon his third place finish from 2012.
“The goal was to get out moderately quick in first, and then settle in and close hard. I hadn’t won a race in a long time so I was really looking forward to getting out here, mixing it up and trying to win,” he said. “This is a good first step towards Thanksgiving, and I have enough time to be where I want to be for the Manchester Road Race.”
Mebrahtu and Siraw Kebede Gelaw were second and third, both recording times of 14:31. Andy Wacker of Boulder, Colo., took seventh, racing strong throughout the race in the lead pack.
In the women’s race, Jorgensen—the 2014 ITU Triathlon World Championships gold medalist—found herself roughly fifteen seconds adrift of the leader at one mile. That didn’t deter the New York Athletic Club athlete, who chipped away at the gap all the way down Avenue of the Americas, passing the bright lights of Radio City Music Hall.
By the time Jorgensen entered Central Park with just over a mile remaining, she had reeled in the front runner (whom she could not identify) and injected a slight surge.
“I was feeling not great but I felt like I could pick up the pace so I just tried to pick it up,” said Jorgensen. “I knew I didn’t want to go out too hard and blow up.”
In the Park, Jorgensen continued to run out front with Ethiopian Etaferahu Temesgen and Great Britain’s Steph Twell battling behind. Ultimately, it was Jorgensen’s day, taking the win in 16:03.
“It was fun to come out here. I was in town with Asics, one of my sponsors as a triathlete, and I wanted to get a good hard run in. It was definitely really hard,” said Jorgensen, laughing. “There were some really good people out here today and it was great to test myself.”
From here, Jorgensen turns her focus back towards the Olympics, where she hopes to qualify for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. She is a gold medal favorite.
Behind Jorgensen, Temesgen placed second in 16:07, with Twell rounding out the top three in 16:12. Nicole Schappert and Lauren Penney were fourth and fifth, 16:25 and 16:28 their times. Tenth went to steeplechaser Ashley Higginson in 17:13.
A prize purse of $10,000 was available to athletes who have had a current and valid New York Road Runners membership for at least three months. A prize money distribution was not immediately available because athlete credentials had to be checked.