Mizuno’s Serena Burla Dominates USA Half Marathon Championships
HOUSTON—Serena Burla, the 31-year-old mother who resides in Falls Church, Virginia, has twice finished runner up in the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston.
On Sunday, Mizuno’s Burla avenged those second-place finishes with a runaway victory in the USA Half Champs which also was good for her first national championship.
Burla defeated a deep field of the top road runners in the US to win in 1:10:48. It wasn’t quite a PR, but Burla, a University of Missouri graduate, was elated nonetheless.
“I didn’t feel like the favorite going in,” said Burla, a 2:28 marathoner. “Actually, I thought anyone could win today.”
Burla wasted little time on a clear, beautiful morning with temperatures in the mid-50s and little wind. By the 5-kilometer mark, Burla had moved to the front of the 10-women lead pack and quickly asserted her dominance.
“When I took the lead,” said Burla, “I knew this was my chance. I wanted to execute my race plan and run my race, not focus on anybody else.”
By the 10-kilometer mark, the race was all but over as Burla forged a lead of 15 seconds and then extended it in the last three miles to more than a minute back to the finish.
“My plan was to see how the race went over the first few miles,” said Burla after claiming the national championship, “and then make a move and if someone wanted to go with me, then charge ahead. I had to go on faith and couldn’t worry about who was behind me. I was confident in my ability and knew it was going to hurt, but I never second-guessed myself so I just went with it and focused what was up ahead and never looked back.”
Did she ever.
None of the other women running in the USA Champs could even mount a challenge as Burla won by nearly 1 ½ minutes on the flat Houston course over Laura Kleppin in second. Burla’s victory vaulted her to the top of the USAARC standings and earned her $13,500.
Other Mizuno runners in the USA Women’s Champs, included Clara Santucci in 5th in 1:12:58 and Renee Baillie in 20th in 1:14:55. In the men’s Champs, Mizuno newcomer Elliott Krause of Madison, Wisconsin placed 16th in 1:03:15, followed by Craig Curley in 18th in 1:03:27. Daniel Tapia was 26th in 1:04:32 and Craig Leon was 27th in 1:04:34.