It didn’t take long for Aliphine Tuliamuk to re-establish her dominance on the USATF Running Circuit Sunday morning in Pittsburgh at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, while Chris Derrick claimed another national title with an impressive final surge late in the race.
The USATF Half Marathon Championships, hosted by the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, are the fourth stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit.
Parker Stinson took to the lead in the early stages of the men’s race on a cool and overcast morning in downtown Pittsburgh. Followed closely by a large pack, including USATF Running Circuit overall leader Leonard Korir and three-time cross country champion Chris Derrick, Stinson set a brisk pace that thinned out the field early on.
Through the halfway point, Stinson continued to lead with Derrick, Korir, ZAP Fitness’ Andrew Colley, Sid Vaughn Jr. and Samuel Kosgei on his shoulder. That same pack of six ran together until mile 11, when Stinson, Derrick and Korir started to pull ahead.
With one mile to go, Derrick charged to the lead and started to grind down Stinson and Korir. As Korir fell off pace, Colley started to a push back into the top three. Derrick and Stinson would run well ahead of the field, while Colley moved into sole third place.
Derrick’s decisive move in the final mile proved enough, as he held off a furious final charge by Stinson, winning 1:02:37-1:02:38, both fantastic performances given the challenging layout in Pittsburgh.
Colley, who continued his charge back from a frustrating number of months dealing with injury, ran to a third place finish in 1:02:40, while U.S. Army runners Kosgei and Korir took home fourth and fifth place finishes in 1:03:13 and 1:03:24.
Korir’s fifth place effort earned him another six points, giving him a whopping 51 points in the current USATF Running Circuit standings, well ahead of second place Martin Hehir and his 24 points.
Nearly catching Korir in the final portion of the race, Matt Llano took home sixth place overall in 1:03:29. Just behind Atlanta Track Club’s Wilkerson Given earned seventh in 1:03:45, well ahead of Vaughn Jr., who ran with the lead pack much of the race before sliding to eighth in 1:04:27. George Alex and Johnny Crain finished ninth and tenth in 1:04:29 and 1:04:55, respectively.
While the men’s race offered a dramatic finish, Tuliamuk, in her trademark style, shot to the lead of the women’s race in the first mile Sunday morning and never looked back. Winning her eighth national title, Tuliamuk ran to a large lead by mile two, grew that lead over the next six miles and then held off a late charge to take home the victory.
The two-time defending USATF Running Circuit overall champion owned a 40-meter lead passing mile two, and seemed to add another 10-20 meters to her lead until she passed halfway nearly 100 meters ahead of then second and third place runners Sara Hall and Gwen Jorgensen.
Trailed closely by Rochelle Kanuho, Hall and Jorgensen challenged each other early on, packing together but keeping a close eye on the other and any dramatic moves they might make.
At the halfway point in the race, Hall surged ahead, working to catch Tuliamuk. While Jorgensen couldn’t cover the move, it gave Kanuho an opportunity to move up and run with Jorgensen for a bit.
Kanuho would eventually make her own move and run up to Hall, as the duo continued to push to catch Tuliamuk, but with little success.
Into the final mile, it was clear Tuliamuk would lay claim to another USATF Running Circuit title, while Hall put space on Kanuho and made one final push to the finish.
As Tuliamuk crossed the finish, her effort was met by an enthusiastic Pittsburgh crowd, cheering the HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite runner across the finish in 1:10:04.
Unbeknownst to Tuliamuk, Hall made a late charge over the final mile, rapidly closing the large lead. Hall charged home, coming up just short of surprising Tuliamuk, finishing three seconds off in a runner-up time of 1:10:07.
After Hall made her late charge, Kanuho hung on to third place in 1:10:49, fending off Jorgensen in the final mile to earn a big ten points towards her USATF Running Circuit standings. Kanuho’s effort moved her up into fourth place overall with 19 points, 3.5 points behind Emily Infeld and Molly Huddle, but still well off Molly Seidel’s circuit lead of 33 points.
Jorgensen, making her debut in the half marathon distance, ran a strong race throughout, taking home fourth in 1:10:58, while fellow Portland-based runner Carrie Dimoff continued her impressive 2018 campaign by taking fifth in 1:11:51.
In sixth place, Samantha Bluske held off a strong challenge from Roberta Groner, finishing in 1:12:32, while Groner took home seventh in 1:12:35. Elaina Tabb also went sub-73 with her eighth place finish on 1:12:57, while Lindsay Flanagan ran 1:14:15 for ninth and Bethany Sacthleben placed tenth in 1:14:33.
The fifth stop on the USATF Running Circuit takes place next Saturday, May 12, as the USATF 25 km Championships take place at the Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan.