GRAND RAPIDS — Now that Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado has run her first 25K road race, the 26-year-old says she wouldn’t mind scheduling a couple more 15 1/2-mile events down the road.
Dado easily overcame the cold and wind that greeted Saturday morning’s Fifth Third River Bank Run to shatter the long-standing 25K American record held by Joan Benoit-Samuelson.
Dado conquered the course in 1 hour, 23 minutes, 45 seconds to eclipse the 1:24:43 set by Samuelson in 1986.
“I did not think I would set a record, but I am not surprised I set a record,” Dado said through an interpreter. “My (form) was good, so I didn’t want to waste time because of the weather. It was cold (and) windy, but I just stayed with my pace, which was very good.
“I think I like this 25K distance.”
Dado broke away from the field midway through the race and never looked back.
She didn’t have to, since defending champion Genovena Kigen, 29, of Kenya, was a distant second with a 1:24:52.
Former University of Michigan standout and 2007 River Run women’s champion Katie McGregor, 32, won the USA Track & Field 25K crown with a time of 1:26:23, good for third overall. She was followed by Rochester’s Dot McMahan (1:30:07) and Kelly Jaske (1:30:46) of Portland, Ore.
McGregor was not surprised by Dado’s dominating effort.
“She didn’t really surprise me,” McGregor said. “She’s run a couple of major marathons, and she’s run a 2:25 for a marathon and 1:09 for a half (marathon). I knew she was going to go out and get after it.
“Once she took off, I was hoping to just have a decent race and go for the U.S. championship. I didn’t want to go out too fast and then die toward the end, because there were still some good U.S. people here.
“I didn’t run as fast as I did the last time I was here (1:25:53 in ’07), but I was pretty happy with my overall race. (Dado) simply ran a great race.”
Dado was coming off a first-place finish at the Rome Marathon.
McGregor added that the weather conditions had nothing to do with her third-place finish.
“Actually, the weather wasn’t as bad as we all thought it was going to be,” McGregor said. “The wind wasn’t as big a factor. We lucked out. It could have been a lot worse around here.”