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Posted: September 7, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Ageless De Reuck Wins USA 20-K Title

From David Monti
© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NOTE: Look for detailed results in tomorrow's special Tuesday issue of Race Results Weekly --Ed.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (07-Sep) -- It was exactly 11 years ago when Colleen De Reuck, then a 34 year-old South African citizen, won her first New Haven Road Race 20-K, setting a world record time of 1:05:11. De Reuck, now 45, set another world record here today, running the fastest-ever 20 kilometers by a woman over 45 by some seven minutes in 1:07:21. For good measure, she also won the USA 20-K title, beating Serena Burla --19 years her junior-- by 17 seconds.

"It's great racing," De Reuck, a mother of two from Boulder, Colo., told reporters while her two year-old daughter Tara scurried around her. "Sometimes the training gets a little bit old," she quipped.

De Reuck took the lead at the 8 km point (26:35), and was never seriously challenged. Today's victory was De Reuck's third her in six appearances here.

"I just tried to relax," she said, explaining that her goal pace was five minutes and 20 seconds per mile (3:19/km). "At 10-K along the water I slipped a bit to 5:30 (3:25/km). I was just hanging on at the end."

De Reuck did not expect to win here today, but she did hope to contend. She was using today's race to prepare for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 4, the site of the USA women's Marathon Championship.

"I was like hoping top-3," she said.

Burla, who also finished second at the USA 7-mile championship at the Quad City Times Bix 7 in Davenport, Ia., last July, clocked 1:07:38. Magdalena Lewy Boulet, the 2008 USA Olympic Trials Marathon runner-up, finished a distant third in 1:08:11. Rebecca Donaghue (1:08:39) and Amy Hastings (1:08:58) rounded out the top-5.

The men's race was much more dramatic. Brett Gotcher, Jason Lehmkuhle and Mohamed Trafeh, none of whom had ever won a USA title, used the fast opening 10-K pace (28:56) of defending champion James Carney to break away from the field. The three made their way through the streets of New Haven, well ahead of Scott Bauhs, Andrew Carlson and Jason Hartmann, their nearest chasers. Trafeh injected several surges in the second half, but couldn't break up the pack.

"I made a mistake," said the 23 year-old Trafeh, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., and only got his USA citizenship last year. "I wanted to break them early. I thought I'd break away and run by myself."

But the trio ended up rotating the lead through the race's final kilometers, and they were eyeing each other warily. Through 19 km they were still together, when Gotcher pushed, Trafeh responded, and Lehmkuhle fell back a few steps. Trafeh did his best to hang on, but Gotcher was just too strong in the final meters, winning his first USA title in a personal best 58:57, and locking in a USA team spot for the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in October in Birmingham, England. Coach Greg McMillan was thrilled.

"It's very special for me because when we started the program two years ago, Brett was one of the original members," McMillan explained. He added: "Right out of school, he came to our program. He's really good."

Trafeh hit the line four seconds behind Gotcher and, despite the narrow loss, was satisfied. Without a sponsor, his $4,500 second place paycheck was important.

"Second place is really good for me," said Trafeh. "This is my best result so far in my career." He added: "This race will open a lot of doors for me."

Lehmkuhle held on for third in 59:04, while Carlson (59:26) and Bauhs (59:46) completed the top-5.

Both De Reuck and Gotcher earned $8,000 in prize money, part of a $40,000 total purse. In addition, the top-14 men earned automatic invitations to the USA Men's Marathon Championship which will be held at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1, because they broke 1:01:30. USATF and New York Road Runners designated today's race here as an additional one-day qualifying window for the championship, provided athletes ran at least 1:01:30.

The next USA road running championship will be held in Providence, R.I., at the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5-K on Sept. 20.

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