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CHEBET WILL FACE TOUGH FIELD AIMING TO DEFEND FREIHOFER'S TITLE - rrw

Published by
Matt   on Jun 3 2011, 10:52 AM

CHEBET WILL FACE TOUGH FIELD AIMING TO DEFEND FREIHOFER'S TITLE
By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

ALBANY (03-Jun) -- The 33rd annual Freihofer's Run for Women is set to take over the streets here tomorrow, pitting road racers from around the world against one another for a chance at starting the summer off right with a win and piece of the $27,000 prize purse.   

Defending champion and course record holder Emily Chebet returns to the New York State capital hoping to become the first repeat champion since Benita Willis won three in a row from 2006 to 2008.  Flying in from Nairobi through New York's JFK airport, the 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Champion hopes to further her success on the American roads; she has won twice and placed in the top-three three times in America. Extremely quiet and shy, the 25-year-old simply said it is good to be defending champion and that she thinks she will have to use her kick at the end, similar to the way she pulled away from Edna Kiplagat and Mamitu Daska over the final 800m at last year's race.

Chebet will goes up against a field which includes five Ethiopians, any of which can take home the $10,000 first place check. Aheza Kiros, who won and set a personal best at the Carlsbad 5-K in April, hopes the training she has done following her 69:10 debut half-marathon in Paris can result in a victory here.

"I work only on the roads these days, and I train for 5 and 10-K's.  At that time [of Carlsbad], I was working for a 21-K," she said through an interpreter.  "That has really helped me, given me endurance."

Joining her is Daska, the 2011 Chevron Houston Marathon champion.  Daska came within five seconds of defeating road running ace Lineth Chepkurui at last week's Dick's Sporting Goods Bolder Boulder 10-K. With her great range of distances covered, Daska has learned what works in training for her to be ready.

"Running a 5-K is very good for running a marathon. But coming from a marathon down to a 5-K can be very difficult.  Because we do very hard focused training, I can manage it." 

The last non-African champion came in 2008 when Australia's Willis ran 15:46 to earn her third Freihofer's win.  The question will be can the 32-year-old, whose 5000m personal best of 14:47.60 was run in 2002, keep up with the younger Africans and Americans?

The United States is also well represented here. Alissa McKaig, recently named to Team USA for the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Daegu, will be competing in her first Freihofer's race, while three Team USA Minnesota members in Emily Brown, Meghan Payton (formerly Armstrong), and Megan Hogan are also set to toe the line.  Former University of Oregon standout and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native Nicole Blood returns to her home state ready for her first professional road race.   

"I am going to get out hard and put myself in the front pack," said Blood, now part of the Nike Oregon Track Club. "I'll be competitive with whoever's next to me."   

The youngest entrant in the race is Alana Hadley, the 14-year-old from North Carolina who has surprised many with her 17:06 and 36:14 personal bests for 5000m and 10,000m, respectively. 

Dulce Maria Rodriguez, a 2008 Olympian for Mexico, and South Africa's Irvette Van Blerk are also entered.

PHOTO: Emily Chebet winning the 2010 Freihofer's Run for Women (courtesy photo)

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