GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Amway River Bank Run’s race within the race is getting tighter this year.
This is the fifth year for the race within the race, which gives elite 25K runners even more incentive to push their pace. Whoever crosses the finish line first takes home an extra $2,500 on top of the $10,000 first-place prize.
The group of elite women start the race before the group of elite men. For 25 kilometers, the men will close the gap and try to catch up to the top female contenders.
After three consecutive years of victory for the elite women, organizers have whittled down the start time margin to 11 minutes based on the average difference of finishing times between the elite men and elite women. Last year, the elite women got an 11 minute and 15 second head start over the elite men in the race within the race.
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Despite the narrowing time window, the elite men aren’t calling the race just yet.
“I was thinking we had a pretty good shot until these late entries showed up. Uh, yeah. No, I didn’t think it was going to be easy and then Sara and Emma showed up. And they don’t really, I know they’re a little banged up but they don’t mess around,” said 27-year-old Parker Stinson of Boulder, Colorado, who finished third in the 25K race in 2017.
For the past three years, Aliphine Tuliamuk has captured the race within the race title. However as of Friday, she had not signed up to run this year’s 25K.
“The Flagstaff contingent uh convinced Aliphine not to come so we’re feeling pretty good about this,” said elite runner Scott Smith.
“You guys don’t have a chance,” responded elite runner Emma Bates, who finished second to Tuliamuk last year.
Also missing from this year’s lineup is Sam Chelenga of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who was the first man to cross the 25K finish line last year.
Stinson will look to top Chelenga’s 2018 performance with guidance from his coach, former River Bank Run champion Dathan Ritzenhein.