ALBANY, N.Y. (03-Jun) -- In wet and chilly conditions, marathoners Tristin Van Ord and Jessie Cardin took the top two spots at the 45th Freihofer's Run for Women here this morning, an unusual result for a race where track athletes have traditionally dominated. Van Ord, 28, took the lead in the second kilometer and finished in a solid 15:54, six seconds ahead of Cardin. She set a personal best and won $3000 in prize money.
PHOTO: Tristin Van Ord wins the 45th Freihofer's Run for Women in 15:54 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"Honestly, I just wanted to run fast; that's it," Van Ord told Race Results Weekly, her long braids still glistening from this morning's rain. She continued: "I knew I didn't want to be in the lead up that first hill, so I was like whoever goes out in front I'm going to stick right behind them and see how I feel."
It was 2016 Olympian Marielle Hall who decided to lead the field of 2400 women for that first kilometer, an uphill stretch on Washington Avenue which began at the New York State Capitol Building. Hall, 31, hit the first "K" mark in 3:11 with a pack of seven women close behind, including Van Ord who ran about a step behind off of Hall's left shoulder. Van Ord, who hasn't run a road 5-K in nearly three years, was right where she wanted to be.
"I just felt really good," said Van Ord, who represents ZAP Endurance in Blowing Rock, N.C. "After the first mile I was like, this is nothing compared to the marathon."
As the race turned left into Washington Park in the second kilometer, Van Ord took the lead from Hall who stayed close behind. Cardin was trailing by about 10 meters and she, along with her Hansons-Brooks teammate Anne-Marie Blaney, were working to keep contact. Cardin, who dropped out of the Boston Marathon last April with a medical problem, was using today's race to get back into racing and rebuild her confidence.
PHOTO: The top-3 finishers from the 45th Freihofer's Run for Women (left to right): Tristin Van Ord, 1st; Jessie Cardin, 2nd; and Anne-Marie Blaney, 3rd (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly
"Honestly, Boston was my second marathon and it didn't go the way I planned, unfortunately," Cardin said. "I just kind of came today being like, I want to rip my marathon band-aid off at some point, so I wanted to make it a good one."
The roadway in Washington Park has several hills and tight turns, and the middle of the race looked more like a cross country meet. Van Ord and Hall were still together through 3-K (9:44) with Cardin a few steps back and Blaney several meters behind Cardin. Hall was in a good position, but she was feeling that something was off.
"I was trying to get out and set a fast tempo," Hall said of the first part of the race. She continued: "The legs just kind of fell out the last mile. The body didn't respond how I wanted it."
Hall began to fall behind, and was soon in fourth place. Cardin closed some of the gap on Van Ord who had a small lead at 4-K (11:20). When Van Ord turned right back on to Washington Avenue for the long, mostly downhill, sprint to the finish she was feeling strong and began to realize that she could win.
"I just kind of listened to my body and I felt good," she said. "The last, like, three minutes when I hit that I kind of peeked at my watch and it said two and a half miles. I'm good from here and I just have to roll."
Van Ord's time was a personal best by about a minute, while Cardin's time was a career best by 52 seconds. Blaney got third in 16:02, while Hall held on for fourth in 16:08. Another Hansons-Brooks athlete, Olivia Pratt, rounded out the top-5 in 16:09 putting three Hansons-Brooks women in the top-5.
For Cardin today's result was particularly important. She had to be taken to the hospital from the Boston Marathon course after falling late in the race, and emergency medical personnel detected that her heart rate was extremely slow. She feels fully recovered, but it was a scary experience that prompted some self-reflection.
"I really do believe that my gift is from God to run, and I believe it's a gift," Cardin told Race Results Weekly. "Having Boston play out the way it did I was very disappointed. A lot of tears, a lot of hard days afterwards, but I knew God allowed it to happen for a reason, and it's for His glory. So you know what? This doesn't make me any less of a runner, it doesn't make me any less-talented and less hard-working." She added: "Being able to have such success here today for such an amazing event, I want to come back here every year now."
Two hours after the start, 2389 women had crossed the finish line, up 22% from last year. The last finisher home was Nancy Gerstenberger of Albany. She is 93 years-old and clocked 1:22:23.