One of the strongest American fields in recent memory will toe the line Saturday, 4 June in downtown Albany, New York for the 33rd edition of the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
Leading the US contingent will be 35-year-old Rebecca Donaghue, who finished 9th in 2010 (15:50) and was the event's top American finisher. The UMass-Amherst grad is showing good form of late and recently ran 15:53.42 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 5000m and was 8th at 2011 Gate River Run 15K.
Donaghue will be joined on the start line by Alissa McKaig, 25, a newcomer to Freihofer's, who was 9th at the 2011 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 5,000m and 8th at the 2011 Mt. Sac 5,000m. McKaig, who finished 28th at the recent 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain, will be part of the USA team in the Marathon at this year's World Championships in Daegu.
Emily Brown, a four-time All American at the University of Minnesota, will certainly be another American threat. The New Balance runner, who Running Times magazine recently said, "may be the best American distance runner you haven't heard of," boasts impressive credentials, including a 1st place finish at the 2009 USA Cross Country Championships, 3rd at the 2008 USA Cross Country Championships and 18th at the 2008 World Cross Country Championships. She recently placed 12th at the 2011 Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K.
"Without a doubt this is the deepest U.S. field we've had since 2004 when we last hosted the USA Track & Field Women's 5K National Championships," said Event Director George Regan. "These women will have the opportunity to compete against the best athletes in the world without having to travel abroad. That's a real bonus for them."
Further bolstering the elite field will be a trio of U.S. runners who will be hoping to become the first local Freihofer's winner since Cheri Goddard-Kenah in 1999. The most heralded of these women is Nicole Blood, 23, (Saratoga Springs), who joined OTC Elite in the fall of 2010 after a storied career at the University of Oregon.
While attending college on the West Coast, Blood was a nine-time All-American and a three-time Academic All-American. She holds the Oregon school record in the indoor 5K (15:51.59) and won four Pac-10 Championships during her career: two at 5000m, one at 10,000m, and one in Cross Country. Blood also recorded a pair of career top-10 finishes at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships and was a 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials competitor, as well as a 2010 USA Track & Field Championships qualifier.
Elizabeth Maloy, 25, a Loudonville, NY native and Holy Names graduate, is hoping to improve upon her 2010 Freihofer's debut in which she finished 10th (15:53). Maloy, who has fast track speed (her personal record in 5000m is 15:39), was a four-time All American at Georgetown University, and has achieved some early successes since turning pro, including 1st British Milers Club Grand Prix 3000m (8:56.89), 2nd Savo Games, Lapinlahti, Finland 1500m (4:11.20) and 2nd Brasschat Meeting 1500m (4:09.24). She recently placed 3rd at the 2011 Mt. Sac 5000m (new PB of 15:19.87).
Meanwhile, Megan Hogan, 23, a Ballston Spa native who earned All-American cross-country honors at George Washington University, and who recently finished 9th at the 2011 Mt. Sac 5000m (15:29.9), 3rd at 2011 Gate River Run, and 8th at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, rounds off the local contingent.
"I expect all of these local women to stay right with our international field," added Regan. "Each of these women is extremely gifted and has the potential to do well. Once you put them in a field like Freihofer's you can expect to see them rise to the occasion with their very best performance."
Fourteen year-old phenom, Alana Hadley, who ran 17:09 for 5000m last year as a 13-year-old and was 33rd at the NYRR New York Mini 10k (2010), will be yet another American to keep a close eye on come race day.
The Charlotte, NC resident was 1st in a new PB of 17:06 at the 2011 Vertklasse Meet and 1st in a new PB of 36:14 at the 2011 RU Highlander Invitational 10,000m. She also set a US single age record for Half Marathon (1:21:15) at the 2011 Alston & Bird Corporate Cup Half Marathon. One of long distance running's rising stars, Hadley is scheduled to take part in the popular Freihofer's Elite Athlete Visitation Program, and will visit Capital Region schools in the lead-up to the race.
Organisers for the IAAF