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Leonard Korir Wins Great Edinburgh XC, Team USA Men Dominate

Leonard Korir Wins Great Edinburgh XC, Team USA Men Dominate
Photo: @scotathletics
2016 Olympian Leonard Korir won the Great Edinburgh Cross Country men's 8K race in 24:03. The U.S. Army athlete battled Great Britain's Callum Hawkins with a thrilling finish.

Hawkins took the early lead with Americans Morgan Pearson and defending champion Garrett Heath close behind. The trio went through 1K in 2:51 before Pearson faded back, leaving Hawkins and Heath to continue setting the fast pace. 

Korir joined the two leaders shortly after 3K and seemed to respond to every move Hawkins threw at him, while Heath fell off the quickening pace. The Holyrood Park course is full of hills, twists, turns, and water jumps, and Hawkins, who set PBs in the half marathon (60:24) and marathon (2:10) in 2016, did not make the race easy for Korir.

The two men fought through the final straightaway with Korir emerging victorious in 24:03 to Hawkins 24:04.


The U.S. men dominated the team battle, with Sam Chelanga, Stanley Kebenei and Garrett Heath finishing 4-5-6, and Hillary Bor (10th), Thomas Curtin (11th) and Martin Hehir (13th) pacing Team USA.

Mo Farah finished seventh in 24:49. Though he certainly went out more conservatively than Hawkins and Heath, he struggled to close the gap between himself and the leaders and finished 46 seconds behind winner Korir.

This is the fifth year in a row that an American man has won the 8K race here in Edinburgh. Heath, Chris Derrick (x2) and Bobby Mack have won victories here since 2013.

Turkish athlete Yasemin Can won the women's senior 6K in 20:36. Can, the 2016 European gold medalist in the 5K, 10K and cross country, was also sixth and seventh in the Olympic 5K and 10K, respectively.​ 

The former Kenyan athlete established the lead early on with teammate Meryem Akdag. ​Fionnuala McCormack of Ireland went with the two Turkish teammates early on before finding herself in no woman's land for much of the race, only to battle back and pass Akdag around the 20:00 mark. 

McCormack took runner-up honors in 20:57, with Akdag taking third in 21:02.

It was a surprise fourth-place finish for the Bosten Athletic Association's Emily Lipari, who qualified for Team USA after finishing fifth at Club Nationals on December 10. The former Villanova NCAA mile champion was just 13th at Club Nationals in 2015, and earned the top American honors today in 21:17.

BAA teammate Sarah Pagano was ninth, Furman All-American Allie Buchalski 10th, Elaina Balouris 13th, Olympian Marielle Hall 17th, and Amy Van Alstine rounded out the scoring in 19th.​

Team USA won the overall meet title with 149 points. In the junior races, Syracuse commit Noah Affolder won the men's 6K in 19:29, while Stanford commit Nevada Mareno paced Team USA in the women's 4K to finish third in 14:08.

Great Britain won the 4x1km relay in 11:10, while the U.S. team of Lianne Farber, Kyle Merber, Will Leer, and Heather Kampf finished second in 11:17.

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