In cool and foggy conditions, Anthony Famiglietti won his first USA 15-K title today in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Gate River Run, but the 30 year-old Olympic steeplechaser nearly lost the race to former Wisconsin star Tim Nelson who mounted a surprising come-from-behind sprint at the finish.
Famiglietti appeared to be cruising to a $17,000 payday ($12,000 for the win plus the $5,000 gender battle bonus in which the top women were given a five-minute headstart), passing women's leaders Katie McGregor and Amy Begley about two-thirds of the way into the race. He had already broken free of Nelson, Fasil Bizuneh, Dan Browne, Jorge Torres and Ian Dobson.
But descending the Hart Bridge in the final kilometer with a 100m lead, Famiglietti didn't realize that Nelson had dropped Bizuneh and was making up ground, quickly. Just as he did in the recent USA Cross Country Championships when he was chasing Meb Keflezighi the final lap, Nelson mustered a mighty final surge and nearly caught Famiglietti just before the finish line.
For Famiglietti, who clocked a personal best 43:33 (unofficial), it was his first U.S. 15-K title. Todd Williams's event and American record of 42:22 was never threatened.
The women's race came down to Begley and McGregor in the final kilometer. Begley, 31, broke free in the last 400m to win easily in her debut at the distance (her time was not immediately available). McGregor was second, and her Team USA Minnesota teammate Emily Brown finished third. Begley, an Olympian at 10,000m and the USA indoor 3000m champion, won $12,000.