ASICS Greenville Track Club ELITE's Mark Leininger ran to victory in the Run Nona 10K in Lake Nona, FL on a warm (73 degrees) Saturday afternoon. Following the 4:45 pm start the lead pack of five passed 5K in 14:56. Superior, Colorado's Stephen Piper then broke away and held a four second lead over Leininger (24:19) at five miles. With less than a kilometer remaining Leininger caught the pre-race favorite Pifer and won by a margin of seven seconds with a time of 30:18. He averaged 4:52.4 per mile.
Pifer, a three-time All American at the University of Colorado, has excellent range including a 3:56 mile and a 1:04:13 half marathon and is also a three-time USA Olympic Trials Qualifier (2008, '12 & '16). His Nona 10K runner-up time was 30:25
Orlando's Ty McCormack was third in 30:30. Like Pifer, Leininger and McCormack were also qualifiers for the 2016 USA Olympic Trials marathon. They earned $4,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively, for their Nona 10K placings.
ASICS GTC-ELITE's Dylan Hassett ran within a trio of women's leaders for the first four miles, passing the first mile in a brisk 5:08 and 5K in 17:02. After passing 5 miles in 27:43, she finished second with a time of 34:29 to earn $2,500 for the second consecutive year at this venue. Last year she placed second in the event over a 15K course. This year's time averaged 5:32.9 per mile and was a personal best on the roads, besting her 34:33 in the Newport 10K in May.
Boulder, Colorado's Mara Olsen won this year's Nona 10K with a time of 34:05 and Portland, Oregon's Tara Welling was third in 35:01. Olsen, who runs for the Roots Running Project in Boulder, was a three-time All American at Butler University and has a 10K best of 33:03. Welling was a six-time All American at Loyola Marymount University before joining the Oregon Project following graduation. She now competes for Sketchers Elite.
Leininger's teammate, Austin Steagall ran a personal road best for 10K in finishing seventh with a time of 30:55 (4:58.5 per mile). He was only one second behind former University of Oregon standout Jeramy Elkaim's 30:54 in sixth.
ASICS GTC-ELITE's Kimberly Ruck placed 6th among the women with a time of 35:59. The former Clemson All American passed 5K in 17:25 and averaged 5:47 per mile for 10K.
GTC-ELITE produced four qualifiers for the 2016 USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles and is sponsored by ASICS, the 44-year-old Greenville Track Club, Performance Therapy, Greenville Health System, ScanSource, Soleus Running Watches, Boston Bill Sunglasses, Roll Recovery, FinalSurge, Joy Real Estate, The TD Bank Foundation, The Kroc Center, Carolina Spine and Rehab, The ATI Running Academy, ElliptiGO, the Bare Minimum Track Club and generous individual contributors.