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Begley and Bairu Win Shamrock Shuffle 8K

Amy Yoder Begley

Amy Yoder Begley

U.S. Olympian Amy Yoder Begley and Canadian national record holder Simon Bairu, outran the largest field in Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K history today posting wins in the 32nd edition of the iconic Chicago road race. An event-record field of 32,427 runners followed the champions across the finish line to officially kick off the outdoor running season to Chicago amid 70-degree weather.Begley, a native of Kendallville, Ind., crossed the finish line in 26:50, the fastest women’s time since 2006. Shortly after her Chicago racing debut Begley said, “Rebounding from Achilles surgery last year to win the 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in my return to the Midwest is extremely rewarding. It’s a great test for my fitness as I prepare for the USA Track & Field Championships in June.”

Begley is a six-time U.S. national champion and a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in the 10,000 meters. She was a 15-time NCAA All-American and two-time NCAA champion at the University of Arkansas, and is currently a member of the Nike Oregon Project based in Portland, Ore., which aims to prepare American athletes for Olympic success.

Bairu, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, broke the finish line tape in 23:38 in his Chicago racing debut, bettering last year’s men’s winner (John Kemboi of Keyna) by one second. Following his finish, Bairu reflected on his finish by saying, “I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off my competitive running season than to have won the 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. It’s such a fast, flat race course and it feels great to post a win at an event I’ve long admired.”

Bairu was a two-time NCAA cross-country champion and three-time Big Ten cross-country champion. Last spring, he set the Canadian national record in the 10,000 meters, making him a front-runner for the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team. He is currently a member of Nike’s Oregon Track Club based in Portland, Ore.

For the third-consecutive year, the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K featured an Elite Club Competition for USA Track & Field (USATF)-member running clubs. Both winning teams from last year repeated as champions. Wisconsin Runner Racing Team (Racine, WI) placed first for the men and Runablaze Iowa (Des Moines, IA) ranked first among the women, each repeating as champions. Tyler Sigl, Scott Mueller, Matt Thull and Eamon McKenna posted a joint time of 1:38:54. Erin Moeller, Casey Owens and Ellen Ries posted a combined 1:26:45 finish time to place first for the women.

“Today’s Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle reflected the spirit of Chicago,” said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “With a record field and two great champions in Amy and Simon, we kicked off the outdoor running and fundraising seasons in a big way.”