Two of Kenya’s top distance runners have bowed out of Saturday’s Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K in Albany, NY, in order to prepare for their nation’s upcoming Olympic trials, but that will still leave plenty of talent at this IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
Emily Chebet, who holds the Freihofer’s course record (15:12 set in 2010) and Joyce Chepkirui, a 23-year-old whose victories this year include the African Cross Country Championships, have opted to remain in Nairobi for the Kenyan Olympic trials, which have been rescheduled for 14-16 June.
"Naturally we’re disappointed not to have these outstanding athletes in our field," said longtime Event Director George Regan, noting that both have achieved the Olympic A standard for the 10,000m event which they will be contesting. "However, the chance to represent one’s country in the Olympic games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We wish them well."
Despite losing the two Kenyans, the Freihofer’s field still remains highly competitive. Included in the mix is defending champion Mamitu Daska (ETH), winner of Monday’s Bolder Boulder 10K, who will be joined by fellow countrywomen Alemitu Abera and Ashu Kasim.
The event’s stellar Kenyan contingent features recently added Jelliah Tinega, winner of this year’s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile; Risper Gesabwa, who recently won the LA Half Marathon; and, Genoveva Kigen, victor at the 2012 Crescent City Classic 10K.
Two highly competitive Australians will join the Kenyans and Ethiopians on the start line. Benita Willis, a four-time Olympian for her country and three-time Freihofer's champion, is one of the most accomplished athletes in the field. Lara Tamsett, meanwhile, who has notched a 15:28 for 5000m, will also be a real threat on the challenging course.
Red-hot American Lindsey Scherf, winner of this weekend’s Ottawa 10K and a first-time Freihofer’s competitor, has a real shot at a top-five finish. Other Americans likely to push the African and Australian contingent include Rebecca Donaghue, who was 9th at Freihofer’s in 2010, Esther Erb and Michelle Frey.