GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the third consecutive year, Aliphine Tuliamuk is the winner of the women’s Fifth Third River Bank Run and the race within the race.
Tuliamuk, 29 broke away from the pack of elite women runners just past the 10-mile mark, crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 25 minutes and 34 seconds. She held off the elite male athletes by 31 seconds, clinching the $2,500 purse for the race within the race.
Her victory comes fresh off winning a half-marathon race in Pittsburgh on May 6.
“Today’s race was a lot different from the last couple of races I’ve done here because I ran a half marathon six days ago, and so the goal today was to win my race first and then if I had a chance in the end, win the race within the race,” she told 24 Hour News 8.
Tuliamuk came into the race with a strategy: stick together.
“The goal today was to run with the women as long as I could,” she said.
“I just wanted to wait until most of the hills were out of the way,” she added.
Tuliamuk and the rest of the elite women runners started the race 11 minutes and 15 seconds ahead of the elite male runners. Mile after mile, the top men closed in on Tuliamuk, but she held on.
“I thought the guys were going to catch me,” said Tuliamuk.
Tuliamuk won her first national championship race here, and keeps coming back.
“I never thought when I was a young kid I would have opportunities like this so I’m just so grateful and this race it’s like I have a special place in my heart for this race,” she said.
River Bank Run newcomer Sam Chelanga, 33, of Colorado Springs, Colorado was the first man to cross the 25K finish line with a time of 1 hour 14 minutes and 51 seconds – just 33 seconds off the record.
Chelanga fought Scott Fauble for the lead during much of the race, breaking away only within the last mile of the 25K.
“He just gave it all. And I’m very fortunate and blessed that I won today. I thank God for that,” said Chelanga
Both Fauble and Tuliamuk trained at the same facility in Flagstaff, Arizona.
“I consider myself like a veteran in long distance running, so when I see young guys like Scott pushing like that, I just feel like I’ve done my part,” said Chelanga. “They’re the future of American distance running and I’m really proud of what they’re doing.”
Chelanga and Tuliamuk both take home $10,000 for winning the men’s and women’s 25K, respectively.
This was the fourth year for the race within the race, which the women have one three times, thanks to Tuliamuk.