Cherobon-Bawcom Big Winner At U.S. 15K Champs

Mo Trafeh finished first on the men's side.

Mo Trafeh finished first on the men’s side.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Janet Cherbon-Bawcom was the big winner at Sunday’s USA 15K Championships, hosted by the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Fla.  Not only did she win her fourth USA road running title in six months, but she also held off men’s champion Mo Trafeh, who was unable to catch Cherobon-Bawcom who, like the rest of the elite women, had been given a seven-minute head start.

“I’m so excited,” said the Kenyan-born athlete in a brief interview with after the race.

Cherobon-Bawcom, who was timed in 49:41, owed at least some of her success today to a resurgent Lindsey Scherf who led a pack of four –including Cherobon-Bawcom, Maegan Krifchin and Molly Huddle– through 8K in 26:51.  The taller Scherf helped shelter Cherobon-Bawcom from the strong winds.

“I thought I was going to fall over,” said Cherobon-Bawcom of the wind gusts she felt in the latter stages of the race.

Just before 10K, Cherobon-Bawcom and Huddle left Scherf and Krifchin, then the former NCAA Division II 10,000m champion surged away from Huddle.  She picked up her pace to make sure that Trafeh would not catch her on the descent of Hart Brigde before the finish. Trafeh, who had run very aggressively in the early stages of the race, simply couldn’t catch her.

“I gave it my best, but I came up short,” he told

By winning the race, Cherobon-Bawcom collected the $12,000 winner’s check plus the $5,000 “equalizer” bonus for beating all of the men, a task made easier this year because the women’s head start had been increased by two minutes. Huddle finished second in 49:57, Krifchin third in 50:43, and Scherf fourth.

Both Cherobon-Bawcom and Scherf will also run the NYC Half next Sunday.

For Trafeh, his victory in Jacksonville was his third in a row. He now joins Meb Keflezighi (6) and Todd Williams (5) as just one of only three men to win the USA 15K title at least three times. For Trafeh, who lives in Morocco, today’s race gave him a positive spark after he failed to finish at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston in January. It was his second “DNF” in two marathon attempts.

“The marathon’s not for me right now,” he told