Trafeh, Nelson Win U.S. Half Titles

Deep races highlight a damp day in Duluth, Minnesota.

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Deep races highlight a damp day in Duluth, Minnesota.

Mo Trafeh continued his successful 2013 USA Running Circuit campaign on Saturday morning, setting a course record and winning the men’s title at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minnesota, hosted by the Grandma’s Marathon.

The USA Half Marathon Championships are the sixth stop on the USA Running Circuit, which will conclude this fall with the .US National Road Racing Championships. The top ten finishers at today’s race qualified to compete for national honors at the the .US National Road Racing Championships.

Trafeh pushed the pace early in the foggy, cool morning in Duluth. Passing through the first mile in 4:21, the field strung out quickly, with Trafeh finding himself running alongside only three other runners. Olympian Meb Keflizighi, Josphat Boit and Shadrack Biwott held strong, as Trafeh continued to push the pace, passing through the two mile mark in 8:56.

As the pace started to settle a bit, Trafeh and Keflizighi began to pull away, the early pace obviously taking it’s toll on Boit and Biwott. From the halfway point to nearly the finish line, Trafeh and Keflizighi would challenge each other running side-by-side.

As the two runners neared the finish, Trafeh made a slight move that Keflizighi simply couldn’t cover. Trafeh, the freshly minted USA 25K record holder, surged to the finish to win his second consecutive USARC title, crossing the finish in a new course record time of 1:01:17. Keflezighi finished a strong second in 1:01:22.

Trafeh’s win pushes him atop of the USARC standings, well ahead of runner-up Ben True (21 points) with 33 points. There are five races left to go in the 2013 USARC racing calendar.

Rounding out the top five, Oregon-based Biwott finished third in 1:02:24, Timothy Ritchie finished fourth in 1:02:29, while Boit finished fifth in 1:02:32. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman finished sixth overall in 1:02:57, while 2013 Team USA cross country athlete Bobby Mack finished seventh in 1:13:10.

In the women’s race, Boulder-based standout Adriana Nelson took the lead from the start and never looked back. Running the first mile in 5:16, Nelson immediately distanced herself from the field, putting 13 seconds on her closest competitors. Her lead would grow to nearly 50 seconds by the five mile mark.

As the chase pack passed through the 5.5 mile mark, Olympian Desiree Davila and Serena Burla started to close the gap on Nelson. Coming through seven miles, Nelson’s lead shrunk to 35 seconds and by nine miles it was down to 14 seconds.

Davila made a break and positioned herself solely in second, as Burla, 2012 USA Half Marathon Championship runner-up Maegan Krifchin, Minnesota-based Kelly Brinkman, Mattie Suver and Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce packed together to continue to push the pace and make up ground on Nelson.

At 10 miles, Davila was only seven seconds behind Nelson, but Nelson found another gear and grew her lead back to 11 seconds by the 12 mile mark. With the finish in sight, Nelson charged to the line, as the 33 year old won her first U.S. title in 1:11:19. Following closely behind, Davila crossed second in 1:11:26, while Brinkman finished a surprising third in 1:11:33.

Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce finished fourth in 1:11:38, while Suver finished fifth in 1:11:56. Suver’s six point gain in the USARC standings, giving her 28 total points, moved her into a tie for second overall with Brianna Nelson, who scored her own three points in the USARC standings with her eighth place performance of 1:12:23.