Daska Three-Peat Bid at Freihofer
ALBANY, NY — The intense rivalry between Ethiopian and Kenyan long distance stars will be on full display on the streets of Albany, N.Y. on Saturday, June 1st for the 35th anniversary Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K.
Returning champion, Mamitu Daska (ETH), 29, heads up a talented Ethiopian squad, determined to keep the title she has held the past two years at the prestigious all-women's event. Daska, who won back-to-back titles in Albany in 2011 (15:19) and 2012 (15:19), dominated the US road scene last year with victories at the Lilac Bloomsday 12K, Zazzle Bay to Breakers 12K, BolderBOULDER 12K, AJC Peachtree Road Race 10K, and Boilermaker 15K. The long distance specialist has shown little let up to her winning ways as evidenced by January’s first place showing at the Houston Half Marathon (69:53).
”I am very happy to return to Albany for the 2013 Freihofer's Run for Women,” said Daska, who plans to fly from Ethiopia to Albany just to defend her crown. “I am most excited about my chance to become the champion for a third year in a row. I feel like this would be a great honor and something I want very badly to do. I will do my best this year to win the race again.”
She will be ably supported by a strong contingent of her countrywomen. This includes Zemzem Ahmed, national record holder 3,000m steeplechase (9:17:85), who represented her nation at the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing; Amane Gobena, runner up at the 2008 Freihofer’s and victor at the 2011 Xiamen International Marathon; and, Merima Mohammed, winner of the 2011 Dusseldorf Marathon and 1st ING Ottawa Marathon.
Meantime, a cluster of Kenyans, led by Freihofer’s Run for Women course record holder Emily Chebet (15:08, 2010) — victor at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in Poland in March — plans to block the Ethiopian speedster from collecting the $10,000 first place check. Joining her on the start line will be Isabella Ochichi, a silver medalist at the Athens Olympic Games at 5,000m; Joyce Chepkirui, 1st 2013 World's Best 10K and 2012 Olympian at 10,000m; Alice Kimutai, victor at the 2013 Crescent City Classic 10K; and, Millicent Gathoni Kuria, 3rd Rite-Aid Cleveland 10K and 5th 2013 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile.
Other serious title contenders include Diane Nukuri-Johnson, 28, Burundi’s top distance star. Last weekend Nukuri-Johnson topped the women’s pack at San Francisco’s scenic Bay to Breakers 12K course (40:12). She will be joined on the starting line by 2012 Polish Olympian Karolina Jarzynska, who already has wins under her belt this year at the Santa Monica Half Marathon, as well as Marathon Lodz and Citylauf Korsenbroich 5K. (See full athlete stats here.)
“What a great anniversary gift!,” said longtime Run for Women Event Director George Regan. “We’re on pace to set both a new course and participation record.”
This year Freihofer’s Run for Women will add enhanced interactive graphics from RunPix to its finisher results. Created to be fun and friendly in colorful, interactive format, runners will be able to visualize their placing in the field and age divisions, among other things. Images can then be displayed, shared and printed as a composite visual record of the race experience. This composite visual will be available at no cost as an electronic souvenir of each runner’s achievement along with an electronic finisher certificate
To assist victims of April’s Boston Marathon bombings, event organizers will donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the “Boston Strong” necklace and runner's bandana to The One Fund Boston, Inc.