Rancocas Valley’s Erika Kemp races into all-time U.S. top-30 with a MASSIVE 10,000 PR

Rancocas Valley graduate Erika Kemp ran a massive 10,000 breakthrough of 31:35.63 at the Track Meet late Saturday night outside Los Angeles.

Her time is No. 28 in U.S. history.

Kemp easily surpassed the qualifying time of 32:25 for the Olympic Trials, which have been rescheduled for June of 2021. She fell 10 seconds short of the Olympic standard of 31:25.00 for next year’s Tokyo Games.

Kemp’s previous 10,000 PR was a 33:13.44 in the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., on April 3, 2015. So she lowered her PR by more than a minute and a half.

The meet was put together for athletes to chase Olympic qualifying standards in fast conditions on the first day the Olympic qualifying window re-opened. 

The location was kept secret before the meet to avoid spectators showing up. It was held at Junipero Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, south of Los Angeles.

Kemp ran with the leaders much of the race and took the lead at one point just before the midpoint of the 25-lap race. She came through 5,000 meters in about 15:45 and was still within striking distance of the Olympic standard when she hit 8,000 meters at 25:10.25, which put her on pace to run 31:27. 

But she split 78.3 and 79.7 on her 23rd and 24th laps before closing in 76.8.

Kemp, racing for Boston Athletic Association, placed ninth. The top eight finishers met the Olympic standard.

Despite falling a few seconds short of the standard, the performance is a huge breakthrough for Kemps, whose time is No. 21 in the world this year.

It’s also No. 2 all-time by a New Jersey (or Burlington Ccounty) woman, behind a 31:05.71 by Mount Laurel native and Haddonfield graduate Marielle Hall in the finals of last year’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in September. 

Rachel Schneider won the race in 31:09.79, leading six women under 31:20. The race produced eight of the top 28 times in U.S. history (one of the runners ahead of Kemp wasn’t from the U.S.):

30:13.17 … Molly Huddle, 2016
30:22.22 … Shalene Flanagan, 2008
30:49.57 … Emily Sisson, 2019
30:50.32 … Deena Kastor, 2002
30:55.16 … Kara Goucher, 2008
31:05.71 … Marielle Hall, 2019
31:09.79 … Rachel Schneider, 2020
31:10.69 … Amy Cragg, 2012
31:10.84 … Alicia Monson, 2020
31:11.07 … Sharon Lokedi, 2020
31:12.28 … Natasha Rogers, 2020
31:12.68 … Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, 2012
31:12.80 … Lisa Uhl, 2012
31:13.78 … Amy Yoder Begley, 2009
31:15.65 … Kellyn Taylor, 2020
31:17.31 … Jennifer Rhines, 2007
31:18.96 … Amy Rudolph, 2005
31:19.89 … Lynn Jennings, 1992
31:20.45 … Emily Infield, 2017
31:21.92 … Elva Dryer, 2005
31:22.86 … Danielle Shanahan, 2020
31:24.47 … Stephanie Bruce, 2020
31:28.92 … Francie Larrieu-Smith, 1991
31:30.89 … Annette Hand-Peters, 1997
31:34.37 … Kate O’Neill, 2004
31:35.25 … Blake Phillips-Russell, 2005
31:35.3h … Mary Tabb, 1982
31:35.63 … Erika Kemp, 2020
31:35.88 … Kim Conley, 2017
31:37.14 … Desiree Davila, 2011
31:37.26 … Anne Marie Lauck, 1993
31:38.04 … Judi St. Hilaire, 1992
31:39.67 … Jordan Hasay, 2014

Before Saturday night, Kemp’s last race was the U.S. 15K road championships in Jacksonville, where she placed fifth in 50:27. Her last track race was a PR 15:14.76 5,000 at Boston University on Feb. 27. That mark moved her into the No. 17 spot in U.S. indoor history. Her last outdoor track race was the 5,000 at the U.S. Championships in Des Moines on July 28, 2019, where she ran 16:02.88. And her last track 10,000 was a 33:55.38 in Coral Gables, Fla., on May 10, 2018.

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