Here the story from Sunday's St. Augustine Record describing the 15K victories for Jen Rhines and Mo Trafeh. Early last fall Jen looked to be toast, but she has rebounded nicely, with three victories, two PRs, and two USA titles since December. Thirty-six years old and still going strong. Nine months ago her quest for a fourth US Olympic team looked like a pipe dream -- not so any more. The question now: marathon or 10,000 meters?
Familiar winners at Gate River Run
Mo Trafeh, Jennifer Rhines win 15K event
By David Johnson
JACKSONVILLE -- A lot changed for Mo Trafeh in the year since his first Gate River Run title.
His speed did not.
Trafeh won his second River Run title in a row Saturday, finishing in 42 minutes, 58 seconds -- the exact time he ran in his 2010 victory. Trafeh pulled away in the second mile, cruising to the finish line outside EverBank Field.
The 25-year-old Trafeh got married three months ago and bought a house in Casablanca, Morocco. The $17,000 he won Saturday should help with the mortgage payments.
Trafeh, who lives and trains for part of the year near Los Angeles, said he knew the pressure was on him as the defending U.S. 15K national champion.
"This race, I felt it. All these guys are looking for me," he said. "They're probably just waiting to see what I'm going to do."
Jennifer Rhines, 36, easily won her third women's title at the 9.3-mile River Run, taking command after the fifth mile and finishing in 49:31.
"It was good for me to come in as the favorite and execute," said Rhines, who earned her first professional victory at the 1998 River Run and won again in 2005. She won $12,000 for her victory Saturday.
"I won Houston at the start of the year, and my training has only continued to get better."
Rhines and the rest of the elite women had a six-minute head start on the men's field. Trafeh ran them all down, passing Rhines just over the crest of the Hart Bridge to claim the $5,000 equalizer bonus on top of the $12,000 men's prize.
With Trafeh sprinting to the title, the real race was for second place. Ben True and Aaron Braun led a pack of three men stalking Trafeh most of the race. By the seventh mile, True and Braun were the only men within 100 yards of the leader. True said he realized then that no one was catching Trafeh on Saturday.
"Coming up that final hill, I was making sure I was going to conserve as much energy as possible, because I knew it was going to come down to a kick," True said.
True beat Braun by one second in a sprint to the finish. True finished in43:25 -- 27 seconds behind Trafeh.
Nan Kennard took second in the women's race, 25 seconds behind Rhines, and just one second ahead of third-place finisher Megan Hogan. Colleen De Reuck, a former River Run women's champion, won the masters title in 52:47. Tracy Lokken won his second men's masters title in 47:40.
No one was fast enough to stop Trafeh and Rhines from continuing their dominance in U.S. championship races this year. The runners, both drug tested by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after the race, also claimed the men's and women's titles at the Houston Half Marathon Championships in January.
"You can't get any better than this. It gives me a lot of confidence for London," Trafeh said.
Trafeh plans to run the London Marathon on April 17 in his first attempt at the distance. He said he would be satisfied with a time below 2 hours, 10 minutes, in his attempt to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
At the 34th annual River Run, Trafeh didn't expect to push a strong early pace, and he had doubts when he made his move after the first mile.
"I was like, 'what am I doing? What am I doing? This is too early,' " Trafeh said.
After the victory, there was no doubt he made the right moves again.