USATF reigning champion Leonard Korir lived to his expectations as he increased his tally after clinching the USATF 20km Championships held on American runners Labor Day.
Korir did not allow the warm and humid weather to dampen his victory with the temperature hitting near 80 degrees at race start, with 90 percent humidity, both the men’s and women’s race got off to conservative starts, as runners gaged how the conditions would challenge them throughout the 12.4 mile race.
The race started with the U.S. Army contingent of Korir, Haron Lagat, Samuel Kosgei and Elkanah Kibet grabbing the lead and setting the tone.
As the men’s field, containing a dozen runners passed through the 5 km mark in 14:59, it was the Flagstaff duo of Kiya Dandena and Aaron Braun, along with USATF Running Circuit veteran Ahmed Osman, leading the charge. As quickly as those three made the race, things shifted when Korir and Lagat took over around 8 km.
Korir put in a surge that would ultimately break the other two runners, while Braun tried valiantly to hang on in fourth, putting nearly 40 meters on both over the next half mile.
The 31 year Kenyan born- American hanged on for another big USATF Running Circuit victory, securing the win, his second in three years when he cut the tape in 1:00.17.
Lagat battled for the second place when he crossed the line in 1:00.29 with Dandena closing the podium three places 1:00.34.
Osman edged out Kibet to finish in fourth and fifth in1:01.43 and 1:01.44 respectively.
Korir’s victory gives the reigning USATF Running Circuit overall champion the lead in this year’s standings, surpassing Sam Chelanga with 73.5 points to Chelanga’s 55 points. Hehir’s eighth place finish moves him past Scott Fauble for third, 31.5-28.5. Kosgei’s sixth place finish adds another 7.5 points to his total on the season, his 26.5 points placing him fifth in the overall standings.