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Athletics - 03. February 2011.

Rhines starts 2011 with USA Half Marathon title

HOUSTON - In the first race of the 2011 USA Running Circuit (USARC),Jen Rhines (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) outran some of America's top distance runners to take the respective women's title Saturday at the USA Half Marathon Championships, presented by Aramco Services Company.

Rhines, a three-time Olympian, used a tactical approach as Lyndsey Scherf (San Francisco, Calif.) opened a big lead on the chase pack passing the first mile in 5:20. Rhines, Serena Burla (Ellisville, Mo.), Nan Kennard (Boulder, Colo.), Katie McGregor (Saint Louis Park, Minn.), and Tera Moody (Colorado Springs, Colo.).

The pack began to separate at eight miles with Rhines, Burla and Kennard pulling ahead. The trio ran together for three miles with each woman taking a turn the front; however, the others were never more than a few steps behind.

"When I got to 7 [miles] I was feeling good and I was pretty antsy to push it," said Rhines. "But I was patient through eleven [miles]." Her patience paid off as she separated herself from her competitors and continued to extend her lead through the final miles of the course.

Rhines bested her 8-year-old personal record by 45 seconds, running 1:11:14 for a 24 second lead over Burla who clocked a time of 1:11:38 to repeat her runner-up status in Houston. Kennard ran strong to finish third in 1:12:03 while McGregor and Moody ran 1:12:13 and 1:12:30 respectively to complete the top-five.

Video highlights

Video highlights of the USA Half Marathon Championships, presented by Aramco Services Company are available on demand in cooperation with RunnerSpace.com at www.USARunningCircuit.com.

About the USARC

The USA Half Marathon Championships were the first stop on the 2011 USA Running Circuit (USARC), and featured a total championship prize purse of $59,500 plus potential bonuses. Trafeh and Rhines each earned $12,000 for their win.

The 2011 USARC is a USA Track & Field road series, featuring USA long distance running championships and for the first time will include the USA Cross Country Championships. The USARC attracts the best U.S. distance runners, including Olympians Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan and Meb Keflezighi. The 2011 USARC has ten events for men and nine for women.

The 2011 USARC will feature more than $450,000 in circuit prize money with U.S. athletes competing for the right to represent Team USA in various international competitions.

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6,000, $4,000, and $2,500) for the top three men and women point scorers overall.

The mission of the USA Running Circuit is to showcase, support, and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $6 million dollars to U.S. distance runners.

For more information on the 2011 USA Half-Marathon Championships visit www.usatf.org.  
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