Both like to run from the front. For Blankenship that tactic paid dividends as he won the men's race in a new course record of 3:55.8. Kampf took the lead in the women's race with a 64 second first quarter. She hit her mark at the 800 of 2:15, but she didn't have anyone to chase or force her to pick up the pace for the latter half of the race, thus wasn't able to threaten Sara Hall's women's event record of 4:30.8.
|Heather Kampf leads the field early in the race. Photo by Gene Niemi|
The two joked after the race that both were startled by Cazzola's runner-up position in a field that included more credentialed athletes, such as eventual third place finisher Gabe Grunewald(4:39.0) and 2016 BAA Mile champion Brook Handler, who finished fourth in 4:40.6. Kampf maintained her lead to finish in 4:34.2, and Cazzola was timed in 4:37.2.
The Brooks Beasts team based in Seattle had five entrants in the men's race, including two Minnesota natives, defending champion Garrett Heath and Gopher grad Travis Burkstrand. Their race strategy hinged on being with Blankenship with a quarter to go. Blankenship knew that the Beasts would try and team up on him, so he made sure they never got in a position to threaten him down the home straight.
|Ben Blankenship in front of runner up Garrett Heath. Photo by Gene Niemi|
The training he did for the longer distance, however, paid off. He had plenty left at the end and a large enough lead so that he could coast the final meters, so that he didn't break Nick Willis's event record of 3:56.1 by too much. Blankenship ran 3:55.8 following Willis's example of not taking off too much time so that breaking it again if he came back next year would be more difficult.
In difficulty in the middle of the pack, Burkstrand hadn't tried to get up with the leaders until late in the race. He made one surge to get to sixth place, then turned on the jets to catch three more runners in the last quarter of the race and finish third in 4:01.4.
USATF Championship Race Results are HERE.
Atlanta Track Club elite runner @FiveKrayCazzola finishes second in #USATFRoadMile champs pic.twitter.com/QCRv0NbpqA— Atlanta Track Club (@ATLtrackclub) May 13, 2016