ALBANY, N.Y. (01-Jun) -- In her debut at the event, Elaina Tabb of the Boston Athletic Association High Performance team won the 41st Freihofer's Run for Women 5-K here this morning, crossing the finish line on Washington Avenue adjacent to West Capitol Park in 16:04 and earning $10,000 in prize money. It was her first race victory of the year, and her first since winning the Great Cow Harbor 10-K last September, also in New York state.
Tabb, 27, from Watertown, Mass., who only decided to do this event recently because her track schedule had changed, had to beat back a credible challenge from marathoner Diane Nukuri, another late entrant. Nukuri, 34, who represents Asics and lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., ran the Volkswagen Prague Marathon 27 days ago, and tried to use her marathoner's strength to break Tabb in the fourth kilometer.
"My goal was, there are a few other girls in the back that have been doing some track races, and they're younger," Nukuri told reporters. "I was like, let me use my marathoner's strength and push it as hard as I can."
Tabb hit the 3-kilometer split in 9:46 with Nukuri right on her heels as the pair negotiated the race's rolling hills in Washington Park. Tabb knew how strong Nukuri was, but figured if she could just hang tough until the final, downhill kilometer she could prevail in the sprint to the line. Maddie Van Beek of Fargo, N.D., was a comfortable enough distance behind that Tabb could focus completely on racing Nukuri. She was sure she had the edge in sprint speed.
"I was thinking, she ran a marathon like three weeks ago so she's obviously really strong," Tabb explained. "I was, like, I need to focus on what my strengths are and use them."
Eleven minutes and twelve seconds into the race Nukuri went around Tabb, and through 4 kilometers (13:07) she had a two-meter lead on her rival, seven years her junior. But Nukuri, who usually runs with a relaxed, loping stride, began to strain as the pace picked up in anticipation of the final push to the line. Tabb, on the other hand, looked relaxed, her eyes hidden behind her white-framed sunglasses. She gently passed Nukuri about a minute later, then stepped on the gas, running the final kilometer in 2:55 to put the race away. She thought the race was the perfect tune-up for her next 10,000m track race on June 13, in British Columbia where she hopes to hit the IAAF World Championships standard of 31:50.
"It was great to get in a hard effort like that," Tabb said of today's race.
Nukuri was a clear second in 16:06 and earned $5,000. Van Beek was only four seconds back in third and earned $3,000; fourth place went to Katie Newton (née Matthews) of Belmont, Mass., in 16:25 ($2,000); and 17 year-old Kelsey Chmiel, who is a graduating high school senior in nearby Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was a surprising fifth in 16:34.
"Today was a good day just to get out and run hard," said Chmiel, who ran a 3000m race on Thursday and a 4 x 800m relay on Friday in order to qualify for the New York State high school championships. "I want out pretty fast, then in the middle of the race I just tried to keep people in sight." She continued: "That was really exciting."
Hannah Reinhardt, 21, an outgoing junior at the State University of New York here finished seventh in 16:40, and Ella Kurto, 14, of Ballston Spa, N.Y., was tenth overall in 17:16. Chmiel, Reinhardt and Kurto did not accept prize money.
In the master's division, three-time Olympian Jen Rhines, 44, of San Diego, Calif., prevailed for the third time, clocking 17:23 and finishing 11th overall.
About 3,000 women ran this year's race, including four --Cindy Kelly (69), Bernadette LaManna (68), Linda Campbell (65), and Denise Herman (63) -- who have run all 41 editions of the event. The Charles Freihofer Baking Company has sponsored the race since its inception in 1979.