Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan ran 1:09:58 to set a new Florida state record and clock the fastest time by an American woman at Half Marathon in 2011 in warm, breezy conditions at the inaugural Dodge Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon on Sunday (11).
Flanagan, 30, 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships bronze medallist, came to Miami Beach with her Oregon track club teammates to prepare for next month's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. With no regard for the competition or the conditions, Flanagan ran a 5:05 opening mile to distance herself from the rest of the field, eventually finishing fourth overall.
“We are still doing a lot of work. This was a turning point towards the peak of my marathon training and we are heading in the right direction. I'm going to take a confidence boost from this experience today. I'm excited to get out there and run the full thing,” said Flanagan, looking toward next month’s marathon trials. “This is my first race in Miami and there was a lot of flavor and excitement. It was a nice break from Oregon to come down and get some sunshine, enjoy the music and get some running in.”
Flanagan's new teammate, Kara Goucher, came to Miami Beach with a goal time of 73 minutes from her new coach, Jerry Schumacher. Goucher executed her plan to near perfection, finishing second with a time of 1:12:59--her first race since suffering a hip injury at the 2011 IAAF World Championships. Lisa Uhl, who is also part of Flanagan and Goucher’s Oregon Track Club training group, finished third in 1:15:24.
“This was a rough year for me with a lot of big changes and a lot of heartache. It wasn't easy to do what I did but I know in the long run it was the best decision for myself and my family, but I'm looking forward now,” said Goucher, on recovering from injury and switching coaches. “I've got my sights set on the Olympic Trials and a fresh start in 2012. I feel really good. It's not my fastest half marathon ever, but it's given me the most confidence I've ever had going into a marathon, so I feel really good about it.”
“We have five weeks to go until the trials, three more big weeks where I feel I can gain a lot of fitness coming back from my injury, then it’s two weeks of relaxing, especially one week of feeling good and then it’s all about just gutting it out and finishing in the top 3,” Goucher added, about her training plans for what will be only her second marathon in more than two years. “We wanted to come down here to fight through the humidity a little bit and it couldn’t be any worse than Houston. I think we needed this coming off a hard week of training to really push ourselves. It was a great atmosphere and finishing on the sand was a first.”
In the men's race, Canada's Simon Bairu won with a time of 1:05:38. Reigning U.S. cross country champion Brent Vaughn finished second with a time of 1:05:41, with teammate Tim Nelson coming across in third in 1:07:44.
The lead men approached the first mile in 4:46, separating themselves from the rest of the pack with California's Christian Hesch, a sub-4:00 miler. A late arrival and lack of warmup forced Hesch to drop out at 5K, and the Oregon Track Club trio were unchallenged the rest of the way. Nelson began to fall off the pace during the eighth mile, leaving just Vaughn and Bairu. The duo ran together until the final mile when Bairu surged to take home the 3-second win.
“I may have under estimated the course, but today was a pace that I'll probably want to run at Houston. Leading from the gun and to be able to do that on my own in this condition gives me confidence for Houston,” said Bairu, a collegiate All-American at Wisconsin who will try for the Canadian Olympic qualifier of 2:11:29 or faster at the Chevron Houston Marathon, which takes place the day after the U.S. Trials. “The record high for Houston in mid-January is 80 degrees; we consciously came here to get experience in hot, humid conditions and it was great preparation. This was my first time in Miami and I'm a Heat fan. I loved being out here and definitely want to come back when I'm not training.”
Organiser for the IAAF
1. Simon Bairu 1:05:38
2. Brent Vaughn 1:05:41
3. Tim Nelson 1:07:44
1. Shalane Flanagan 1:09:58
2. Kara Goucher 1:12:59
3. Lisa Uhl 1:15:24