February 5, 2012
Contributing Members of USATF Southern California
Unseasonably warm and sunny weather as well as majestic views of the Pacific Ocean greeted the nearly 3500 runners who came out to Redondo Beach for what was billed as “Southern California’s greatest Super Bowl Celebration!” The 34th annual Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10K, known as being one of the more challenging road courses in Southern California, rewards those who take a patient and strategic approach to the race. It is also the 2012 USATF Southern California 10 km Championships race.
Fresh off the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Mary Akor (F35) took home the women’s Open 10K Championship with a time of 34:16. Placing 11th overall, she dominated the women’s open field and beat her nearest competitor, Erika Aklufi (F35) 35:56, of The Janes Elite Racing, by more than 90 seconds. Akor has qualified for several Olympic Trials, and is now a member of the local addidas Legacy Run Racing team, which includes 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials competitors Jimmy Grabow and Charlie Serrano. The bronze medal for women’s open was presented to Kim Ramirez (F29) running 38:34, joining The Janes Elite Racing team member Erika Aklufi for a podium finish.
Luis Ibarra (M31) of Nike Team Run LA, coming off an impressive win in LA King’s 5K, took the men’s Open 10K Championship. Ibarra notched his second consecutive Grand Prix victory in the men’s open division with a time of 30:59. Following Ibarra was Cal Coast Track Club standout runner Gabriel Hernandez (M32) running 32:10. Local hero Humberto Sanchez (M36) of Club Ed Running was the third place men’s open finisher in 34:41.
In the masters division, Redondo Beach resident Nathalie Higley (F42) and 2011 USATF Southern California Grand Prix Champion Tania Fischer (F45) contested the Masters 10K Championship to the finish line. It was Higley who had a little extra at the end, edging Fischer by a second to cross the tape at 35:58, to Fischer’s 35:59. Higley is no stranger to the Grand Prix circuit, having won the 2010 Masters 10K Championship as well as the 2011 Masters Half Marathon Championship. With 9 races remaining in the 2012 Southern California Association Grand Prix, Fischer of The Janes Elite Racing and Higley of Club Ed Running can look forward to renewing their acquaintance soon. Alison Atkinson (F45) took 3rd place with a time of 37:53, also representing Club Ed Running.
Ken Ernst (M50) of the Compex Racing team improved on his second place finish in the LA King’s 5K to take the men’s Masters 10K Championship. Ernst, who had hoped to give himself a 50th birthday present by breaking 33 minutes in the 10K, realized early on that he would have trouble maintaining the rhythm necessary for such a time on the hilly course. Instead, he sat on a pack of runners which included 2011 Masters 10K Champion Nicholas Bowden (M40), 33:52. Making his move with a little over a mile to go, Ernst pulled away on the final uphill and cruised to his first masters win at a 2012 Grand Prix Championship race with a time of 33:24. Ernst, who is currently at the top of the Grand Prix standings, will look to further cement his position at the Brea 8K in late February. Jon Megeff (M48) finished 34:11 for third place, adding more points to the building Club Ed Running total.
In the team competition 2011 Southern California Grand Prix winner Club Ed Running, with 4302 age-graded points scored at Redondo Beach, decisively beat out The Janes Elite Racing, 4089 points, and Cal Coast Track Club, 4060 points. Club Ed have carried last year’s success over into 2012. The Southern California clubs will send their long distance specialists to the next 2012 Championships race, the Honda LA Marathon, in mid-March.