Sara Hall didn't rush into a decision. As much as she wanted to try for her third consecutive title in the TC 10 Mile, the race was only a week after the Berlin Marathon, and Hall didn't know if she could manage the quick turnaround.
She could laugh about that Sunday, after breezing to another U.S. 10-mile championship. Seven days after a brilliant performance in Berlin, when she ran the fastest marathon by a U.S. woman this year, Hall covered the distance from Minneapolis to St. Paul in 53 minutes, 11 seconds. Makena Morley was second in 53:17, and Katy Jermann of Burnsville was third in 53:44.
A tightly packed men's field was topped by Futsum Zienasellassie, who outsprinted former Minnesotan Abbabiya Simbassa in the final meters to win the U.S. men's 10-mile title in 46:55. The top four men's finishers were separated by only four seconds.
"I had [the 10 Mile] in the back of my mind even before Berlin, but I wanted to see how I came off the race and just make a smart decision," said Hall, of Flagstaff, Ariz. "Fortunately, my legs were coming around really quickly. It was a very expensive flight, but it was worth it.
"I love this race. I love the weather. The course is tough, but it has a fun flow to it, and I really enjoyed coming back."
The cost of Hall's airfare was dwarfed by her winnings of $12,500. She said she "never really hit the wall" in Berlin, when she finished fifth in 2:22:16. Her time — which cut more than four minutes off her personal-best mark — made her the sixth-fastest American woman in marathon history.
Sunday, Hall led for most of the race. Her next goal is to have her best-ever finish in a major marathon when she runs the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3.
"It's definitely unorthodox," Hall said of her willingness to schedule races so close together. "For me, it seems to work. I think it just shows I love my job so much, I never want to take a vacation."
Third time a charm
Twice before, Zienasellassie raced the TC 10 Mile and recorded big drops in his personal-best time. As happy as that made him, he was speechless when he won Sunday for the first time.
"I don't know if you can see the emotion in my face," said Zienasellassie, who ran collegiately at Northern Arizona and still lives and trains in the state. "I'm very thankful. I don't know what to say. For me, this is a dream come true."
It took a big late effort to seize the U.S. 10-mile title. Zienasellassie was content to stay within a large lead pack for much of the race, then went to the front with Martin Hehir with about 1 mile to go. When Simbassa passed them about 400 meters from the finish line, Zienasellassie found a final kick to get to the tape first.
Simbassa was second in 46:57, followed by Connor McMillan (46:58) and Hehir (46:59). Zienasellassie won the $12,500 winner's purse plus the equalizer bonus of $10,000, which goes to the first man or woman across the finish line. The women received a head start of 5:57 this year.
For the past several years, Minnesota distance running icon Carrie Tollefson has been a media commentator for USA Track and Field events. Sunday, the Dawson native got back to her competitive roots, running the Twin Cities Marathon for only the second time.
Tollefson, 42, finished in 2:51:56, good for second place among women in the 40-44 age group. She last ran the distance in 2013.
"It was time to do it again," Tollefson said. "I got to [mile] 23, and I felt pretty good. And then, those hills, they get you. But it was super fun."
•A record 11,042 runners completed the TC 10 Mile, and 6,735 finished the marathon.
•Marathon officials said 91 people were treated in the medical tent at the finish line, and 10 were transported to hospitals for further treatment. The weather was nearly ideal, with low humidity and a temperature range of 48 to 64 degrees over the duration of the race.