Erassa and Lyons Face Tough Competition on Thanksgiving

KE_BL-photoIf Atlanta Track Club elite’s Kirubel Erassa wants to defend his title at the Thanksgiving Day 5K, he will have to run faster than he did last year. In his first race wearing the “Winged A”, the clock read 14:30 when he broke the tape, his closest competitor seven seconds back. Next Thursday, he expects it to read closer to 14:00.Erassa will face an invited elite field that includes Colorado Springs based-runner Sam Chelanga. Chelanga and Erassa last raced each other in September at the USA Track & Field 5K Road Championships in Providence, RI. It was a sprint to the finish with Chelanga edging Erassa by two seconds to snag the third spot on the podium.“I feel like I am in the best shape of my life right now,” Erassa says. Coming off a win at the Vulcan 10K in Birmingham last weekend, Erassa says his training has been very consistent and the support of the home crowd will be an added advantage as he battles for the win. “Chelanga is a great athlete,” he says. “He likes to push it hard from the start, so I expect to have a hot pace from the beginning.”Also in next Thursday’s men’s field are Tommy Curtin, 2016 ACC Outdoor Champion in the 5K and 10K, Ford Palmer, a 3:56 miler from the New Jersey New York Track Club and Team USA Minnesota’s Biya Simbasa, a former college rival of Erassa.In the women’s race, Atlanta Track Club Elite’s Bridget Lyons is making a quick turnaround from her third place performance at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon on November 5. Lyons, who ran a personal best of 1:13:29, says she has recovered well mostly by not doing any speed work since the race. Lyons will face last year’s Thanksgiving Day 5K champion and teammate Lauren Sara as well as last-year’s runner up Yolanda Ngarambe who Coach Andrew Begley describes as being in “great shape” following a summer training in Sweden.Lyons will also face Serena Burla, the top American female and seventh place overall finisher at October’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Like Lyons, Burla will be hoping high-mileage training translates to a fast 5K. “I don’t have any expectations,” says Lyons. “But I feel great and will always shoot to run faster than I ever have.”Other top women in the elite field include 2012 NCAA 10K Champion Natosha Rogers and Valentine Kibet, who won the Peachtree Cup with Team Africa at the 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race. About Atlanta Track Club EliteAtlanta Track Club Elite is comprised of the Club’s top athletes who train together and represent the Club at local, regional and national races. The team aims to help athletes realize their goals while promoting competitive distance running, track and field and the mission of Atlanta Track Club. For more information on Atlanta Track Club Elite, visit Atlanta Track ClubAtlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. With more than 26,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the AJC Peachtree Road Race ( – the largest 10K running event in the world, the Publix Georgia Marathon, PNC Atlanta 10 Miler and Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, Atlanta Track Club directs more than 30 events per year. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit