Friday, April 2, 2021 – Raleigh, North Carolina – On a cool and windy Thursday in April, the Raleigh Distance Project achieved its goal of setting American Records on the track at 20,000, 25,000 and 30,000 meters at the Sir Walter Twilight, surpassing the previous marks set by Maxine Johnson on October 3, 1982, where she ran 1:22:24 for 20k en route to 1:44:06 for 25k, and by Teri Gerber, who ran 2:09:23 for 30k on July 13, 1986. The event was held at Meredith College, the host site of the Sir Walter Miler.
“This was a great team effort, both in organizing and racing! The women worked well to draft in the wind. Shari (Eberhard), Rita (Beard), and Allie (Triskett) paced perfectly for 15k. And Nikki Long made that strong move at 15k to turn the event into a real race for the records. Big thanks to Sir Walter Running for developing the expertise to stage an American Record eligible event so quickly. Hopefully the first of many,” said Raleigh Distance Project Coach, Stephen Furst.
Nikki Long’s 1:18:33 for 20,000 meters was indeed the first American Record of the night. “I will never forget the first 50, or the last 25 laps I ran last night. I have so much respect for my teammates, who are all equally a part of this record as I am. Let’s keep the fire lit in the track & field community in Raleigh! I’m ready to support the next record contender,” said Long, as she continued on for the entire 30,000 meter race after setting the 20,000 meter record en route.
The next American record was set by Caity Ashley for 25,000 meters, in 1:37:07. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have a (pending) American Record on the track. It obviously hasn’t been a dream of mine for very long since we heard about this idea less than two months ago. The dream for me is working hard to become better, in running and in other pursuits, alongside people who push me. When we get to check off PRs, qualify for big races, and in this case, break an American Record, it feels incredibly validating but it’s also just icing on the cake of a lifestyle that challenges me and suits me well. And my parents are pretty stoked,” said an excited Ashley.
Finally, Gabi Séjourné was the fastest to complete the 75 laps (30,000 meters), also in an American Record time of 1:59:08. “This race was truly a team effort and I feel so grateful to have been able to work together with my teammates for these records—lap by lap yesterday night as well as in so many routine workouts during the months leading up to the event. This was the culmination of so many months of commitment to training and mental toughness so it felt really good to see it pay off! I think it also will help continue to put RDP on people’s radars as a team to watch, which is undoubtedly exactly what we are,” said Séjourné, who is the newest member of the Raleigh Distance Project.
Sir Walter Running would like to thank Meredith College for allowing us to host a safe, record eligible even, and Chris Chavez, Dave Alfano, Alex Warren, Weldon Johnson, and Geoff Burns, who helped research to make sure the footwear worn by the athletes was record eligible.
The event was planned in conjunction with the inaugural Greenway 20k, which will take place tomorrow on the Neuse River and Crabtree Creek greenways. More information can be found at greenway20k.com
Photo Credit: Lauren LaPlante
Have questions? Let us know: SirWalterRunning@gmail.com