Emily Chebet takes down the course record at the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K in Albany (© Steve Jacobs / www.sjpics.com)
Two-time world cross-country champion Emily Chebet will be going for her third win at the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K in Albany, upstate New York, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Saturday (30).
Chebet’s two previous wins in Albany have coincided with her global titles, coming just a few weeks after she won in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz in both 2010 and 2013, so it remains to be seen what pointers can be got from her finishing sixth at this year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, at the end of March.
Since Guiyang, last month she won the Honolulu half marathon in hot and steamy conditions in 1:10:15 but looked less impressive when only finishing fifth in the Bangalore 10km in India on 17 May.
Nevertheless, in 2010 Chebet set the standard for everyone to aim for on Saturday when she ran a course record of 15:12.
If Chebet is to win, she will become the fifth woman with three victories or more, a group led by Lynn Jennings who triumphed on eight occasions at the race.
Joining Chebet, and more than 4000 women from more than 25 USA states and 20 nations, will be her compatriots, the 2004 Olympic 5000m silver medallist Isabella Ochichi and Cynthia Limo.
Now 35, Ochichi also finished third at Freihofer’s in 2013 while Limo has notched up several good wins on the US roads already this year.
Other Kenyans in the field include Ann Wanjiru, Monicah Wanjuhi Ngige and Salome Kosgei.
“Emily and her team mates will have a new course to contend with this year," said event director George Regan, explaining that a two-year beautification project at the Empire State Plaza in Albany has led organisers to shift the course’s start and finish. “It will be interesting to see how our elite athletes adjust their racing tactics to the new course.”
Leading the Ethiopian challenge will be Buze Diriba, the 2012 world junior 5000m champion. She will be accompanied on the start line by Meskerem Assefa and Amane Gobena, the latter a runner up at last month’s Paris Marathon and winner of the 2014 Los Angeles and Istanbul Marathons.
Burundi’s US-based Diane Nukuri could be a threat to everyone, although she may find the distance a little short for her liking. She is in good form as shown by her finishing third at the recent Prague Half Marathon and then coming home 13th at the London Marathon in a national record of 2:27.50.
Eritrea’s Nazret Weldu can also not be overlooked either. Her recent resume includes winning at the 2015 Trier Silvesterlauf 5K and finishing 11th at the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
This year’s strong Freihofer’s field also has several talented US runners led by local favourite Megan Hogan, whose sixth-place finish here in 2014 made her the top US finisher.
Other confirmed US runners includes 2014 US half marathon champion Serena Burla, Alissa McKaig, Sheree Shea, Lindsay Flanagan, Andie Cozzarelli and Christine Ramsey.
This year heralds the 37th edition of a race which started in 1979 as a 10km event and has become a high-profile and prestigious fixture on the US road racing circuit.
Phil Minshull and organisers for the IAAF