Weekend Wrap-Up: A Win in Birmingham, PRs in Indy and Champions in Tallahassee

KirubelAtlanta Track Club Elite runner Kirubel Erassa cruised to victory in the Vulcan 10K in Birmingham, Alabama Saturday. He edged out Elkanah Kibet by just three seconds, breaking the tape in 29:31. "The race was awesome," Erassa said. "I didn't plan on leading. I just sat behind the leaders and tried to relax as much as I could." After working through some undulating terrain in the race's middle miles, Erassa said he knew he had plenty left in the tank. "I had so much energy left with 400 meters to go, and at 300 I just kicked hard." You can find full race results here. Erassa is training for Atlanta Track Club's Thanksgiving Day 5K on November 24 and also working on improving on last year's 7th place finish at the USATF Club Cross Country National Championship when the event is held this year on December 10.There was an Atlanta Track Club Elite athlete on the podium at both the men's and women's award ceremonies at Saturday's Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. Bridget Lyons placed third in the women's race while Andrew McLain was also third in the men's race."Legs and breathing felt great. The weather was perfect and other than a few more sharp turns than I was expecting, the course was awesome," said Lyons. Lyons found herself running alone early in the race when the two leaders set a faster pace than she was prepared to run. She didn't have company until mile eight when some of the other elite women caught up to her. "It's hard to fight to stay on pace when you are on your own," she said. Despite running slower than her goal of 1:12, Lyons' finishing time of 1:13:29 is a 20 second personal best. Teammate Sallie Post also set a personal best of 1:14:54 (previous best was 1:16:06) placing 7th. Morgan VanGorder was 9th in 1:17:20 with Janel Blancett rounding out the top 10 in 1:17:34.14919014_10205652145822185_2279706282835845762_oIn the men's race, McLain ran a consistent pace of 5:00 per mile to cross the line in 1:05:24 in his debut half marathon. Matt McDonald, also running the half marathon for the first time placed fourth in 1:05:57. You can find full results here.  "It is always great when every athlete sets a new personal best in a race," said Coach Andrew Begley. "We also gained some valuable information on where we need to tweak our training to make even bigger gains going forward."  Both the men's and women's team will now join Erassa training for the Thanksgiving Day 5K.14910553_10211136437951111_2601350465088857993_nAt the USATF Masters 5K Cross Country National Champions in Tallahassee, Florida three Atlanta Track Club runners were crowned individual champions and three teams won age group championships. Sonja Friend-Uhl was the overall women's winner with a time of 18:12. Uhl, 45, was also the 40+ champion. With a finishing time of 24:oo, Cindy Williams was named 60+ Champion.Kristian Blaich, 50, placed second overall in the men's race. His 16:25 performance was just two seconds behind the winner, Jon Noland, 42, last year's Masters National Champion at 1500m and 5000m on the track. "As we crested the last hill, I laid off a bit to recover," said Blaich. "I figured I'd have plenty of time to catch and outkick him over the last 500 meters." Blaich says at the time, he didn't know who he was chasing, and underestimated Noland's closing speed. Calling it a "huge strategic error," he says he was closing hard with 50 meters to go, but just didn't have time to close the gap.Atlanta Track Club won both the men's and women's 40+ team competition as well as the 50+ men's category and the 60+ women's category. You can find complete results here.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 atlantatrackclub.org.About 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 (peachtreeroadrace.org) – 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 atlantatrackclub.org