Gruca Set To Defend Freihofer’s 5K Title

She will square off against rival Sheri Piers.

She will square off against rival Sheri Piers.

On June 1, the 35th anniversary of the Freihofer’s Run for Women kicks off in Albany, N.Y. Headlining the field is defending champion Dorota Gruca, who hails from Las Cruces, N.M.

A 43-year-old Polish runner who ran the Olympic marathon in 2008, Gruca has enjoyed a fantastic start to her 2013 racing season.

She won the female Masters division at the Carlsbad 5000 and shaved two minutes off her time on the Phoenix Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon course.

“This is definitely going to be her race to lose,” Freihofer race director George Regan said. “These recent wins, including her masters victory at the 2013 Lilac Bloomsday Run, will give her a tremendous confidence boost coming in.”

Sheri Piers will be one of Gruca’s main rivals. Piers, from Falmouth, Maine, is coached by former Freihofer’s champion and three-time Olympian Benita Willis.

Piers gave Gruca a run for her money in last year’s race, but it was Gruca who ultimately prevailed with a late-race surge that proved decisive.

For More: Running USA