Big American Showdown On New Year’s Eve

The field at the Emerald Nuts Midnight run is chock full of talent.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permis

For the 32nd consecutive year, over 4000 runners will ring in the New Year by running the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, a four-mile road race in Central Park on Friday, Dec. 31. The race begins at the stroke of midnight, and several top professional athletes will be at the front.

Leading the men’s race will be former Villanova star, Bobby Curtis, the 2008 NCAA 5000m champion. Curtis, 26, who lives in Ardmore, Pa., and represents Reebok, will be running his first Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. He ran 27:33.38 for 10,000 meters this year, the fourth-fastest time of 2010 by an American.

Curtis will be challenged by marathoner Jason Lehmkuhle of Minneapolis, Minn., who will also be running his first Midnight Run. Lehmkuhle, 33, who represents Team USA Minnesota and Saucony, ran one of the best races of his career in Central Park. In 2007, Lehmkuhle finished fifth at the USA Olympic Team Trials in the marathon, clocking a personal best 2:12:54.

The women’s race will feature two of America’s best runners, who typically compete at opposite ends of the distance spectrum. Erin Donohue, a 2008 Olympian at 1500m from Haddonfield, N.J., who represents Nike, will be defending her title.  Donohue, 27, clocked 21:22 last year to win by 20 seconds. Under the coaching of Frank Gagliano, she’s coming off of an excellent track season where she ran career best times at 800m (1:59.99) and 1500m (4:03.49).

“For me, it’s a good thing,” Donohue said of the race in a Brief Chat with this week. “I’m fairly local. They’re nice enough, the (New York) Road Runners, to put you up in a hotel, which isn’t easy to find on New Year’s (Eve). And it kind of keeps you out of trouble, too. Instead of being out partying, I’m out running. So I feel like I can get my New Year started off right.”

Marathoner Desiree Davila, of Rochester Hills, Mich., will be Donohue’s key rival and will be making her Midnight Run debut. The 27 year-old runner, who represents Hansons-Brooks, was the fastest American female marathoner of 2010, clocking 2:26:20 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, good for fourth place. Davila has surprising speed for a marathoner; she clocked a swift 8:51.08 for 3000m during her preliminary heat at the IAAF World Indoor Championships last March.

Despite the unconventional conditions –held in the middle of the night, typically in freezing temperatures, and mostly in the dark– some excellent performances have been recorded at the Midnight Run. Previous winners include Olympians Marcus O’Sullivan of Ireland (1998), Shaun Creighton of Australia (2001), Sinead Delahunty of Ireland (2000), Amy Rudolph of Auburn, Ala. (2004), and Carmen Douma-Hussar of Canada (2007). The course records are 18:12 by Andrew Carlson and 20:54 by Douma-Hussar, both set in 2007.

“The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run is one of the best traditions on the New York Road Runners calendar,” said New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg, who usually runs the race herself. “It is a great time to see some of our sports’ top athletes line up with the great runners from our city and ring in a healthy new year!”

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