From the gun, the 12K .US Road Racing Championships in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sunday was a two woman race between national record-holders: Molly Huddle, the American record holder for the 5,000 meters on the track, and Shalane Flanagan, the former holder of that title.
“Those two gapped us in the first 200 meters.” said Laura Thweatt, who placed third in the race. “I would have loved to see those two battle it out. We had two of the greatest distance running women in the world battling for the record and the win.”
The two matched each other surge for surge through 11 kilometers. Huddle dropped Flanagan in the last kilometer and broke the finishing tape in 37:49—eight seconds faster than Flanagan, 21 seconds faster than the world’s best time, and 35 seconds than the previous American record for 12K.
“I was trying to save a little bit in case Shalane dropped a hard mile,” Huddle told Race Results Weekly. “12K is kind of an unusual distance for me so I didn’t know if the bottom would drop out at any point.”
12K is an unusual distance for anyone, and it's not a distance that's commonly raced. Both woman dipped under the previous best times, but Huddle’s record only stands at a world’s best because the International Athletics Association Federation (IAAF), the international governing body for the sport, doesn’t ratify world record in this distance. Deena Kastor ran the previous American record (38:24) in 2006, and the previous world best (38:10) was set by Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya in 2010.