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Bawcom Smashes US Record

Janet Bawcom

Janet Bawcom

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – May 12, 2012 –  Janet Bawcom (Rome, Ga.) ran a pending U.S. Record of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 36 seconds in winning the women’s crown Saturday at the USA 25K Championships. The old mark – 1:24:43 – was set here in 1986 by running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson. For the men, Joseph Chirlee (Colorado Springs, Colo.) captured the USA title in 1:15:10. This year marked the 19th year that the national championships were hosted by the Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids.

Overcast skies and cool temperatures provided the stage for the 35th race edition, as the U.S. championships field once again faced a strong international contingent.

A 4:51 opening mile saw Chirlee, Brett Gotcher (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Ryan Bak (Bend, Ore.) and Christo Landry (Ann Arbor, Mich.) leading a large pack that included Robert Letting of Kenya and Derege Tadesse of Ethiopia.

After running 5:00 for the second mile, the leaders increased the tempo to 4:40 pace to break up the pack. At five miles, Letting and Chirlee opened a small gap on Gotcher, Landry and Tadesse. By 10 miles, the pair held a lead of more than 30 seconds over the chase pack.

The remaining miles saw Letting and Chirlee running together but Letting made his move as they reached downtown, opening a lead that would take him to the finish line in 1:14:54, 16-seconds ahead of Chirlee, 32, who still had plenty to celebrate with his first ever U.S. title. Landry ran 1:15:47 to finish third overall and as the national runner-up.

The women’s race also saw a strong start with Bawcom and Lindsey Scherf (Fayetteville, N.C.) quickly establishing themselves as the main contenders for the women’s crown. After passing the first mile in about 5:20, the pair dueled for much of the race with Scherf setting the pace.

Scherf tried several times to break away but Bawcom, 33, always maintained contact and like Letting, made her move in the final miles as she charged to the finish for her fifth USA title and first U.S. record. Scherf finished a strong second in 1:25:12.

The USA 25K Championships were the fourth stop on the 2012 USA Running Circuit (USARC) and offered more than $30,000 in prize money with the Chirlee and Bawcom earning $7000 each as national champions. The 2012 USARC, a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from one mile to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners. The circuit features nine events for men and ten for women.

For more information on the 2012 USA 25K Championships, visit:

35th Fifth Third River Bank 25K: USA Men’s & Women’s Championships
Grand Rapids, MI, Saturday, May 12, 2012

1) Robert Letting (KEN), 1:14:54, $5000
2) Joseph Chirlee (CO), 1:15:10, $8500
3) Christo Landry (MI), 1:15:47, $4000
4) Brett Gotcher (AZ), 1:16:14, $1500
5) Zac Hine (CO), 1:16:39, $1000
6) Ryan Bak (OR), 1:16:57, $800
7) Craig Leon (OR), 1:17:23, $600
8) Jesse Cherry (NC), 1:18:06, $500
9) Josh Eberly (CO), 1:18:09, $400
10) Daniel Tapia (CA), 1:18:36, $200
11) Jesse Armijo (NM), 1:19:17, $100

1) Janet Bawcom (GA), 1:24:36*, $12,000
2) Lindsey Scherf (NC), 1:25:12, $4500
3) Melissa Johnson-White (MI), 1:26:22, $2500
4) Dot McMahan (MI), 1:26:29, $1000
5) Allie Kieffer (AZ), 1:26:29, $800
6) Alvina Begay (AZ), 1:27:07, $600
7) Jeannette Faber (OR), 1:27:16, $500
8) Wendy Thomas (CO), 1:27:46, $400
9) Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz (CO), 1:28:30, $200
10) Emily Harrision (AZ), 1:29:16, $100

*U.S. record (previous record, 1:24:43, Joan Benoit Samuelson (ME), Old Kent River Bank Run, MI, May 10, 1986)