On Sunday, Nike runner Chris Derrick and Hoka One One runner Aliphine Tuliamuk took home gold medals during the USATF Half Marathon championships in Pittsburgh with winning times of 1:02:37 and 1:10:04, respectively.
Claiming her eighth national title, Tuliamuk’s early lead in the second mile grew over the next six until she charged ahead, beating second place finisher Sara Hall by three seconds. “I’ve run against Sara before and I know how strong she is and I know that she has a great kick. I kept looking back and those hills at the end, the last five miles were so hilly, and I think I slowed down a lot and she was gaining on me,” said Tuliamuk following the race. “So I was definitely nervous, it might come down to the finish. However, I did not realize how close she was. When I crossed the finish line, I was like ‘Whoa!’ It was my lucky day, I guess.”
Hoka One One runner Rochelle Kanuho rounded out the podium with a third place finish in 1:10:49 and earning 10 points towards her USATF Running Circuit standings. Prior to the race, all eyes were on 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the triathlon Gwen Jorgensen who would be debuting the half as her transition into marathon.
After securing a 4th place finish, the American runner tweeted, “Congrats to @aliphinetuliamu @SaraHall3 and @rochellekanuho I have a lot of work to but excited to get back to training. Thanks for all the cheers out there.” Later, she sent out another tweet saying, “Humble pie for breakfast,” with a link to a video on her YouTube channel sharing the race results.
In the men’s open division, Parker Stinson took to the lead in the early stages of the race ahead of Chris Derrick, Leonard Korir, Andrew Colley, Sid Vaughn Jr. and Samuel Kosgei who remained a pack until mile 11. On the last mile, Derrick charged the lead and pushed ahead of Stinson to win by just one second.
“It’s a good course for racing, some really flat courses, it’s hard to drop people cause everyone just kind of gets in that flat rhythm and just sits there,” shared Derrick in a post-race interview. “But with some of the turns, a lot of ups and downs, there’s a lot of chances like cross country to make little moves and kind of test people. So I think you saw that, there was a lot of good racing.”
Colley finished in third place in 1:02:40, while U.S. Army runners Kosgei and Korir finished fourth and fifth overall in 1:03:13 and 1:03:24, respectively. Discussing his win, Derrick shared his strategies during the race which included hanging back to see if Stinson thinned out in the later miles.
“He was really making it tough to find a good rhythm, but I kind of spied that early on. I didn’t feel great, I figured I would just lay off a lot of them and let it develop and see if he stuck with it,” said Derrick. “I was there to be broken a few times in the last few miles. He could never quite get that definitive gap on me and I just try to stay smooth and pull it back.”
Derrick and Tuliamuk both received $15,000 in prize money. The USATF Half Marathon Championships is the fourth stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit. The fifth will take place next Saturday, May 12 for the USATF 25 km Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan.