BEADLESCOMB, KELATI TAKE MANCHESTER ROAD RACE TITLES
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
MANCHESTER, CONN. (23-Nov) -- Ahead of a field of nearly 11,000 runners enjoying a beautiful Thanksgiving morning, Morgan Beadlescomb and Weini Kelati won the 87th annual Manchester Road Race in convincing fashion. Beadlescomb, 25, the reigning USATF 5-K road running champion, used his powerful sprint to defeat defending champion Conner Mantz in the final 400 meters on Main Street. He was clocked in 21:12 to Mantz's 21:15. Kelati, 26, ran away from her rivals right from the gun and enjoyed a solo victory in 23:21, her third consecutive victory here. Both athletes earned $7000 in prize money, and Kelati banked an extra $1000 in the intra-race Queen of the Hill competition.
KELATI GOES FROM THE GUN
Right from the start on Main Street, Weini Kelati was feeling good. She saw a strong group of men she could ride along with and didn't hesitate to join them.
"Coming here, like, I have no doubts because it's going to be, like, mix with the men's race," Kelati told reporters. "I like to go out hard, and I can keep up that way. I just used the opportunity to sit behind the guys and it worked."
Kelati cruised through the Queen of the Hill timing point just before the two-mile mark on Highland Avenue where she picked up the $1000 prime. At that point she was 21 seconds ahead of her nearest chaser, marathoner Emily Durgin, who was closely trailed by reigning USATF 5-K women's champion Annie Rodenfels. Kelati said she wasn't worried about the women behind her and was enjoying the enthusiastic cheers of the crowds lining the 4.748 mile course.
"Just celebrating Thanksgiving with these people is just amazing," Kelati said, later referring to the people of Manchester as her "family." "As I said, I can't miss it. Every corner there are people playing guitar, cheering for you. They just give you that little extra energy."
In the battle for second, Rodenfels finished ahead of Durgin, 23:59 to 24:06. Fourth went to masters marathoner Sara Hall (24:23), while Florencia Borelli of Argentina rounded out the top five (24:24).
With her victory today Kelati joined USA Olympian Amy Rudolph as only the second athlete to win here on three consecutive occasions. Rudolph did it in 1995 through 1997.
BEADLESCOMB VS. MANTZ
Beadlescomb, who finished second here last year, really applied his knowledge of the course today. He tried to stay relaxed in the first two miles, and when Mantz accelerated for the King of the Hill prime just before the two-mile mark, he didn't react. He wanted to save his energy for the race's big downhill which comes in the third mile. He was one of a pack of seven at that point: Beadlescomb, Mantz, Isai Rodriguez, Patrick Dever, Amon Kemboi, Rory Linkletter, and Reid Buchanan.
"I was up front the whole race, kind of with Isai," Beadlescomb said. "We made the top of the hill and I took the brakes off. I just relaxed and let it roll down. We wound up running pretty quick."
That third mile went in 4:23, and the pack of seven was still together (Buchanan had fallen back, but caught back up). Rodriguez continued to be the leader and he put in a few gentle surges. Beadlescomb just stayed close to the front and was content to wait for the final 800 meters to decide the race.
"Everybody was still there," Beadlescomb said of the four-mile point. "It was a little windy on that back straight (but) it was manageable."
The flat, fourth mile went past in 4:27. That was too quick for Buchanan who faded to finish seventh. Making the final left turn onto Main Street for the finish, Beadlescomb, Mantz and Rodriguez upped the pace, taking full advantage of the race's final downhill. That put Dever, Linkletter and Kemboi out of contention.
"Coming to the road as a track guy you kind of like your chances with 600 to go," Beadlescomb said, breaking into a smile. "I think it played into my hand very well."
Mantz, who ran a personal best 2:07:47 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 46 days ago, wasn't going to let Beadlescomb win without a fight. He stayed right with the former Michigan State star as they began the final 200 meter climb to the finish line. Beadlescomb, who had been training recently in Flagstaff with middle distance athletes Hobbs Kessler and Bryce Hoppel, was just too fast.
"When I decided to all-out go, Morgan just had another gear," Mantz lamented. He continued: "I ran well. I'm happy with it."
Rodriquez, who won the Pan Am Games 10,000m title last month, finished third in 21:16 in his first run here. Fourth went to Linkletter in 21:17, and Dever got fifth in 21:18.
Beadlescomb's day got even better just minutes after the race. He found his girlfriend, Lexi Hager, on the lawn of a nearby church adjacent to the course. Beadlescomb quickly dropped to one knee and proposed, showing Hager a ring. Equal parts happy and embarrassed, Hager said "yes." The couple will celebrate in Hawaii in two weeks where Beadlescomb will run the Kalakaua Merrie Mile on December 9.
"I love that my family made it; I love that my girlfriend's family made it," said Beadlescomb. "It's great."
Well behind the leaders, 77 year-old Amby Burfoot completed the race for the 61st consecutive year, the most of anyone in history. The former Runner's World editor-in-chief who lives in Mystic, Conn., clocked 41:44 (net), averaging an impressive 8:48 per mile.