Mo Trafeh picked up his eighth national title on Saturday, June 22, winning the 2013 USA Half-Marathon Championships in Duluth, MN. The 28-year-old stuck to a strategy of going out hard and then pulling back before a final kick, the StarTribune reports. Trafeh set a new course record of 1:01:17 and earned $13,500 in prize money.
Trafeh, who was also the U.S. half-marathon champion in 2011, edged out Meb Keflezighi, who finished in 1:01:22. The 38-year-old three-time Olympian took the lead with roughly two miles to go, but as Trafeh said after the event, that was in keeping with his plan.
“I gave [Keflezighi] some confidence when I moved behind him,” said Trafeh. “But that was part of my strategy, to get behind him so I can relax and get ready for my kick.”
Third place went to Shadrack Biwott, who completed the 13.1-mile course in 1:02:24.
Adriana Nelson’s victory in the women’s race had little in common with Trafeh’s. At one point, the 33-year-old had a 45-second lead over 2012 Olympian Desiree Davila, who then closed the gap to a mere five seconds, but Nelson held on to win in 1:11:19. Davila, 29, crossed the finish line seven seconds later.
“If you can catch [the leader]…and be assertive and go by with some authority, you can change the whole dynamic of the race,” Davila said, according to the Duluth News Tribune. “But you have to get there.”
“I started pushing harder,” said Nelson, describing her response to Davila’s approach. “I told myself, ‘Now, it’s time to run.’”
Rounding out the top three was Kelly Brinkman, who finished in 1:11:33.
Nelson, a former member of the Romanian national team who moved to the United States in 2011, earned $12,000. She may have the running gods to thank for her victory, as Saturday’s damp, foggy conditions and mid-40s temps felt more than a little familiar.
“I was born and raised in this kind of weather,” she said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg