Monday, January 18, 2010

Bairu Beats Hall, Nelson and Vaughn Impress in Debuts

Bairu at Stanford 2009In a match-up pitting Canada’s best distance runner against the fastest American half-marathoner in history, KIMbia’s Simon Bairu came home the victor, winning the Rock and Roll Arizona Half Marathon over Olympian Ryan Hall. Bairu’s 1:02:47 not only won the day, but also took nearly of two-minutes off of the course record. Running just his second half-marathon, Bairu used the 11th mile to put 26 seconds between himself and Hall, and only lengthened his lead to the tape. With high hopes for his next race — the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Poland — Bairu certainly seems on the right track.

Meanwhile, a hop, a skip, and a very long jump away in eastern Texas, the USATF Half Marathon National Championships brought together a deep domestic field.  Houston has a history of auspicious, break-out races — from Hall’s own AR, to KIMbia’s Jim Carney winning the National Championship in his debut in 2008 — and Tim Nelson and Brent Vaughn looked to add their own chapter to that story as each took his first swing at the 13.1-mile distance.

When the dust settled Sunday morning, both Vaughn and Nelson came up just shy of the win, but with very credible performances on the books. With Antonio Vega capturing the title in 1:01:54, Vaughn placed third in 1:02:04, his fellow KIMbian Nelson directly arears in fourth place, clocking a 1:02:11. Having said that he “wasn’t too pleased” with his 2009 season, Vaughn has begun 2010 with a very positive first foray onto the roads — though it should be little surprise, coming as it did from someone with such an impressive NCAA Cross Country career.

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