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Stellar Masters Field for Freihofers 2012

Paula Wiltse

Paula Wiltse

Defending Freihofer’s Run for Women champion Lisa Harvey is set to headline another strong masters field at the 34th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K on Saturday, June 2nd in Albany, New York 

A 10K specialist who represented Canada at 10,000m at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Harvey hit the tape last year in a time of 17:49, almost 30 seconds ahead of 2011 USA Masters 5K victor Emily Bryans.

The Calgary resident, who recently finished first overall at the 2012 Ice Breaker 5 Mile race, will toe the line with another of her nation’s top over-40 distance runners, Paula Wiltse (Brockville, ONT), a 2008 Freihofer’s masters champion whose recent results include first master at both the 2012 Toronto Yonge Street 10K and 2012 Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8K.

“This is definitely going to be a hard-fought race,” said Freihofer’s Run for Women Elite Athlete Recruiter John Tope, noting that the course is home to Colleen DeReuck’s 2004 Masters World and U.S. All-Comers record of 15:48.  “Any of our over-40 entrants could run off with the coveted 5K title.”

Polish distance runner Dorota Gruca (Las Cruces, NM), who finished 30th in the marathon at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, has also booked her ticket to New York’s Capital Region.  Gruca, 42, has been running well this year as evidenced by her first place masters finish at last weekend’s Lilac Bloomsday Run, coupled with a first place masters finish at April’s Carlsbad 5000 (16:58) against a strong field of past Olympic and world-class runners.

The U.S. field will be well represented in Sheri Piers, the 10th place overall and first American woman finisher at the 2012 Boston Marathon.  Piers, 40, who hails from Falmouth, ME and is coached by three-time Australian Olympian and Freihofer’s Run for Women champion Benita Willis, is a 2:37 marathoner and the 2011 national masters champion at the distance. She is currently ranked third in the 40-44 age group.

Piers will be joined on the starting line by fellow Mainer and running icon Joan Samuelson (Freeport, ME), the first gold medalist for the inaugural women’s Olympic Marathon at the Los Angeles Games.  Samuelson, 54, who has been running competitively for more than three decades, remains an inspiration for runners and athletes of all ages.  Earlier this year she was inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.

Kara Haas, a competitive runner for the past 23 years, will also make her Freihofer’s debut.  The 41-year-old Chelmsford, MA resident, who played basketball in college before switching to cross country, has PR’s that include 17:27 5K and 81:37 Half Marathon.  The St. Anselm College graduate was the second master at the 2012 BAA 5K, and first master at the 2012 USATF-NE Half Marathon Championships, the 2011 BU Mini Meet 3,000m and the 2011 Philadelphia Half Marathon.

Hoping to block everyone from the podium will be five-time Freihofer’s masters champion Carmen Troncoso (Austin, TX).  The 5-foot-1-inch, 93-pound dynamo, who ran 17:46 in 2010 to win the event’s over-50 title, knows the Freihofer’s course like the back of her hand and will certainly use that inside knowledge to her advantage.  Troncoso continues to run strongly and recently earned second in the 1500m and first in the 5,000m at the 2011 Master’s World Championships.

Rounding out the field in style — and showing that it’s never too late to run competitively — will be Libby James (Fort Collins, CO), a mother of four and grandmother of 12 who didn’t start running until her mid-40s.  Since that time James has made her mark, setting national records in the 5K (both 70-74 and 75-79 age groups), as well as the 10K (75-79 age group) and the 10-mile (75-79 age group). She is the 2011 Running Times “Master Runner of the Year” in age groups 70-74 and 75-79 and was recently inducted into the Colorado Running Hall of Fame.

“I’m really looking forward to this one,” added longtime Event Director George Regan.  “All the elements are in place for this race to be a real nail biter.”


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