Fiona O'Keeffe pulled away from the pack about halfway through the speed-filled Twin Cities 10 Mile race on Sunday and eased across the finish line with a course record, the USA Track and Field title at this distance and a $10,000 equalizer bonus.
She had plenty of time to get draped in an American flag — like winners do — and turn around and wait for the first-place men's finisher Hillary Bor, who also set a course record despite taking a spill around the fourth mile.
Because the women started almost six minutes before the men, O'Keeffe, 24, spent much of the race alone with no idea what was happening on the course behind her — which was unsettling to her.
"It's easier to be the hunter than the hunted," she said.
O'Keeffe finished in 51 minutes, 42 seconds — topping Molly Huddle's 2015 record by 2 seconds.
"I knew I was ready for a strong race," she said. "I just didn't know what that would translate to."
O'Keeffe is based in Concord, Mass., but has been in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., for altitude training, toward a half-marathon in Tokyo later this month. She said she took a single run along the course before the race — but ended up sightseeing.
"I got distracted by the houses on Summit," she said and laughed.
Runner-up Annie Frisbie, of Hopkins, said she has learned a lot about the mental side of running in the past year.
"I'm getting better with not being in the zone and being patient," she said. She finished in 52:10 and her next stop is New York City Marathon.
Bor, 32, was clipped by another runner in the first half of the race. He went down hard in the "matter of a second," then asked a teammate to assess his bloody head. He spent a few miles settling down and making sure he felt OK, he said, then forged on.
Bor finished in 46:06, smashing Shadrack Kipchirchir's 2018 record by 26 seconds. The Colorado-based runner won the USATF 3,000-meter steeplechase title earlier this year.
Sam Chelanga of Colorado Springs finished second in the men's race in 46:14. He was happy with the way the race played out on the course.
"Overall, it was a really good championship race," he said. "I feel like we sit and watch each other so much. This was more honest."
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter finished in 1:18:59 in his first half-marathon, after running his first full marathon in 2021. He's typically been more of a sprinter, he said, and didn't do much training this year. These two races are the longest he has run.
He took a lesson last from last year into Sunday's race.
"I took off my headphones and listened to the crowd," he said.
Top wheelchair racer
Wyatt Willand, 18, won the men's wheelchair marathon in 1:41:27. The freshman at the University of Arizona was one of nine competitors in the division.
"I'm usually by myself," he said. "I gave it my all."
Hannah Babalola, one of two women competing in the wheelchair division, won in 2:34:18.
Twin Cities Marathon has had a nonbinary division since 2019, but this is the first year with prize money in the category for participants who don't identify as men or women. Jonah Grant of Madison, Wis., won $500.