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Gruca to Defend Masters Win at 35th Freihofer’s Run for Women

May 19, 2013

Hoping to block Gruca’s path to the podium will be Sheri Piers; Joan Benoit Samuelson will also race

 

ALBANY, N.Y. — Dorota Gruca (Las Cruces, NM) will be looking to earn back-to-back Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K masters titles when she headlines another strong field at the 35th anniversary edition of the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K on Saturday, June 1st in Albany, New York.

The 43-year-old Polish long-distance runner, who finished 30th in the marathon at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, is off to a convincing start in 2013.  She earned a repeat victory in the Carlsbad 5000 female masters race (16:40) and improved on her 2012 performance at the Phoenix Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon by more than two and a half minutes, completing the 13.1-mile course in 1:15:56 for a strong 2nd place finish.

“This is definitely going to be her race to lose,” said longtime Run for Women Event Director George Regan, noting that Gruca’s win in Carlsbad came just one week after conquering the Crescent City Classic 10K, where she ran 34:35 for 1st place masters and 12th overall in a strong field. “These recent wins, including her masters victory at the 2013 Lilac Bloomsday Run, will give her a tremendous confidence boost coming in.”

Hoping to block Gruca’s path to the podium will be Sheri Piers (Falmouth, ME), 41, who is trained by three-time Australian Olympian and Freihofer’s Run for Women champion Benita Willis.  At last year’s Freihofer’s, Piers and Gruca traded the lead several times until the event’s dramatic downhill conclusion along Madison Avenue.  In that nail biting finish, Gruca relied upon her extensive track experience (she’s a three-time national champion in the women’s 5,000m and finished 13th at the 2005 World Championships) to outpace her rival.

Fellow Mainer and running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson (Freeport, ME), the first gold medalist for the inaugural women's Olympic Marathon at the Los Angeles Games, will join Piers on the starting line.  Samuelson, 55, who was inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions in 2012 and remains an inspiration for runners and athletes of all ages, set a U.S. 55-59 age group best at last month’s Boston Marathon (2:50:29).

Event organizers also announced the commitments of:

  • Kara Haas, 42 (Chelmsford, MA), who finished 17th overall in 2012 (17:30)
  • Trina Painter, 46 (Flagstaff, AZ), who has set Arizona's masters track records in the 800, 1500 and 5000, and whose last visit to Albany in 2010 resulted in a 4th place masters finish (17:28)
  • Emily Bryans, 45, (Schenectady, NY), winner of the 2011 5K Masters Championship (17:17) at the Festival of Races in Syracuse, NY
  • Five-time Freihofer’s masters champion Carmen Troncoso (Austin, TX), who won her 50-59 age group at the 2013 Carlsbad 5000 (18:33)
  • Libby James, 76, (Fort Collins, CO), the 2011 Running Times “Master Runner of the Year” in age groups 70-74 and 75-79, who recently set a World 75-79 age group record in the 2013 Disney Half Marathon (1:45:56)
(See full masters bios and stats here.)

“I love that people will be able to see these masters runners compete in Albany,” added Freihofer’s Run for Women Elite Athlete Recruiter John Tope. “They show that you don't have to give in as you get older. All have had great accomplishments in the over-40 division, the most recent being Joanie's US age group record in the marathon, and 76-year-old Libby James setting a world age group record in the half marathon. Running is truly for all ages.”

To register or for more information on the 2013 Freihofer’s Run for Women, Freihofer’s Community Walk, Freihofer’s Kids’ Run, Freihofer’s Junior 3K and the CapitalCare/CDPHP Health & Fitness Expo, visit www.freihofersrun.com.  From the home page, you can also link to the event’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.  

To assist victims of last month's Boston Marathon bombings, event organizers will donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the “Boston Strong” necklace and runner's bandana to The One Fund Boston, Inc.  Purchases for these items, as well as 35th anniversary apparel and a limited edition commemorative poster, can be made at the FRW store.

For more information, visit: http://www.freihofers.com/

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