photo by Tabitha/PhotoRun
by Larry Eder, RunBlogRun (reprinted with permission)
7,400 women signed up for the Oakley Mini-10k, the godmother of women’s road races in North America, and perhaps, the world. A beaming Mary Wittenberg, CEO of the NYRR, greater Ricky Simms, manager of Linet Masai, and myself, at the media tent.
David Monti had assembled a fine field: Linet Masai, Mamuta Daska, Amy Hastings, Gemma Steel, and Molly Huddle were some of the sport stars that were assembled in the 30 plus elite women’s field.
I joined Roger Robinson, David Monti and Ricky Simms on the elite truck, with Victor Sailer, the PhotoRun.net founder and man who provides us many of our photos, on a nearby motorcycle.Ambrose Salmini, of Salmini Films, was on the other cycle, filming what would be a fantastic race!
The race took off, promptly at 8 AM as our elite media truck roared to a start. Molly Huddle was in the lead very early, running with that wonderfully efficient and clean form, with Mamitu Deska and Linet Masai in tow. Right behind the lead pack, Gemma Steel and Amy Hastings, coming off a fine 5000m race in Concord, MA last Thursday, June 5 (Adrian Martinez Classic).
Molly Huddle, who had run 14:55.90 in Rome on June 5, is in fine form. On May 4, Molly had battled with Sally Kipyego, running a fine 30:47 for second place. Today was a test, was Molly ready to really ramble with the top road racers?
Central Park is a respite in a sea of concrete in Manhattan. The park has wonderfully hilly road loops and wonderful grassy knolls for the Manhattanites to enjoy. On Sundays, no cars are allowed in the park and the city comes out in all of its splendor.
Well, today, most of the area around the park was closed, thanks to New York’s finest and the volunteers that make the NYRR races a success. Molly Huddle was making the most of the clear roads and wonderfully low humidity after the monsoon that visited New York City on Friday night.
Huddle, with Masai and Daska in tow, hit the mile in 5:03. Masai pumps her arms, but has a very long and strong stride. Linet Masai just floats along, and it hides whether she is in shape or not. The uphill first mile was followed by a downhill second mile as Daska, Huddle and Masai separated themselves from the madding crowd of 7400 runners.
Steel and Hastings dropped back with Deba, as Daska began to pour it on. Molly Huddle, running inside herself, gently touched her forehead to remove a bit of nagging sweat just before two miles, hit in 10:01. David Monte noted that it was a fast race, and it was his most prescient comment of the race.
Mamitu Daska had one goal: win this thing and break Molly Huddle. By three miles, hit in 15:13, and 5k, hit in 15:44, Deska was pushing the pace, Huddle was testing, but holding back.
Molly Huddle and Mamitu Daska were running neck and neck, as they hit four miles in 20:23. The sheer momentum of the pace broke Linet Masai as she began to drop back. Gemma Steel was shadowing Masai.
Gemma Steel parted ways with Amy Hastings and went for third passing Linet Masai, who has been bothered a series of nagging small injuries, as she returns to fitness.
Steel, who withdrew from London this year, with an injury, is back and fit and would finish a fine third on this difficult and testing course.
“We were running all out, either one of us could have dropped back,” noted Molly Huddle afterwards.
The battle was between four and six miles. Daska would push, Huddle would counter, and it was either Huddle and Daska right next to each other, or one or the other leading by a step.
As Huddle and Daska hit 8k in 25:13, those of us in the media truck knew that we were witnessing something very special. Not in ten years, an entire decade, has an American woman won this race! Would Molly Huddle, the AR at 5,000 meters, the number two at 10,000 meters, and a burgeoning road racer, win her biggest road race yet?
Mamitu Deska was giving no quarter. Molly Huddle was not asking for any special privileges. With 800 meters to go, Molly Huddle got one step, then, as David Monte noted, over his phone, ” two steps, three steps, four steps, and now five steps, “. Writing next to me and noting out loud, Roger Robinson, one of the sports supreme writers, noted, ” three and one half seconds”.
Molly Huddle had broken Mamitu Deska. Molly Huddle continued to fly along, as the elegant runner that she is and ran through the tape, smile apparent on a race well run. Molly was rewarded with $10k for first place, $5k for first US and god knows what (we believe, gold bars) for her AR.
Nice to see that Molly Huddle’s sponsor, Saucony, recognizes her prowess, stature and representation of the promise of America women’s distance running.
We caught up with Molly right after the race.” It was very tough. We pushed each other and either one of us could have given up. I was very pleased with my time, and my record on this very hilly course. I will be focused now on Monaco, for a 5000 meters.”
The truth be told, Molly Huddle makes few wrong moves when she races. Obviously fit, after her 14:55.90 last week (after starting out at 15:40 pace!), Huddle is continuing to build her endurance and speed towards some very fast late Summer races. We wish her continued health and great training.
Continued significance to Molly Huddle’s victory. It was not since June 12, 2004, when Deena Kastor, soon to be an Olympic bronze medalist, that an American woman won the Mini. In the first MIni, back in 1972, 78 woman finished, this year, over 7400 have started and we surmise that over 7000 should finish.
In the continued development of Molly Huddle, it is notable to see that a runner of her stature, who has come through high school, college and professional levels, continues to improve and represent her country. Her 5000 meter record is tough. With some fine training, Molly Huddle can put that American record away for a few more years. We look forward to seeing her race in Monaco.