NAZ Elite runners are taking a break from racing following a busy weekend that saw five of the team's athletes compete in three different races and bring home four top-10 finishes.
Despite not being in that top-10 group, Aaron Braun's 14th-place finish in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday was nothing to balk at. He ran a 2:13:16 for his second-best time ever in the distance, coming up not too short of his PR of 2:12:54. He was the third American to cross the finish line.
The only Americans to run a better race than Braun were Galen Rupp, who was fifth overall, and Elkanah Kibet, who ended up 13th.
For Braun, who clocked a 2:13:41 in last year's Chicago Marathon, the finish meant more than just a solid result in a world major.
During the spring season, Braun dropped out of the Rotterdam Marathon about halfway through it. It was the first time he’d experienced something like that. It confused the team, and they never quite figured out just what happened that day in April.
“I think we can firmly say that was an outlier and we know that he’s back in the game,” NAZ Elite head coach Ben Rosario said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Rosario hopes his rookie's third-place finish at the Reebok Boston 10K for Women on Monday was not an outlier.
Erin Clark made her debut for the team with a bronze and a time of 32:19 in a race that was cut short by about 300 meters. According to Rosario, the lead car turned off the course early and the race ended prematurely.
Rosario said the race went just about how they wanted.
With veterans Emily Sisson and Buze Diriba taking first and second place, respectively, a race within a race took place for the third slot, which was the last spot for prize money as well.
“For her to come out on top in that way shows she has what it takes, because those other ladies really wanted it and she had the measure," Rosario said. "You want to bridge the gap when you come out of college with the top runners as soon as you can. She beat everyone else trying to bridge that gap, so she’s a little closer, I think, than some of her competitors, at least in that race. In our minds, she’s going to be one of the top runners.”
Sisson had a time of 30:39 and fourth-place finisher Dylan Hassett hit 32:38.
RUNNING THE GAMUT
On Sunday, Futsum Zienasellassie took eighth at the USA Track and Field 10 Mile Championships, the Twin Cities 10, in Minnesota, crossing the line in 47:28 to improve upon last year's results.
Last year, Zienasellassie had a 10th-place finish in 48:23.
Ben Bruce provided his team a third top-10 on Sunday courtesy of a 1:07:07 performance at the BAA Half Marathon in Boston.
Like Bruce, teammate Kellyn Taylor has been using races to build toward a bigger goal.
Taylor, who ran her fifth race in about a two-month span on Sunday, ran a 54:16 in the 10-mile champ race on the women's side.
Her focus is on a distant goal of doing well in the Olympic Trials in 2020. She's using the bulked-up racing schedule for a few reasons.
Rosario said the more she races, the more excited she will be for the larger, more important races, and that she'll gain a lot of experience while competing.
“You have to be able to beat people," Rosario said about the Olympic Trials, "and to do that you have to have some racing instincts."