Randy Angel

Redondo’s Kirsten Leetch runs to USATF National Cross Country Championship

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Redondo Beach’s Kirsten Leetch displays a plaque after winning the USATF Cross Country National Championship with The Janes Elite Racing Team (50+ age division) members (left to right): Mary Lynch, Kathleen Cushing-Murray, Tania Fischer and Shannon (Striker) Teslow. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Leetch

by Randy Angel

Redondo Beach’s Kirsten Leetch capped off a productive year of running, winning a National Championship in the USATF Club Cross Country Nationals on Saturday.

Her first place finish paced her team, The Janes Elite Racing, to a 1-2-3 finish and team title in 23 degree weather at Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane, Wash.

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Leetch was followed by teammates Tania Fischer and Shannon Teslow to take the top three spots, scoring a perfect 6 points. Not far behind were teammates Kathleen Cushing-Murray and Mary Lynch.

Leetch, who struggled with a foot injury recently, kept her focus and her cross training paid off. In April, she set an American Record in the 50-and-over division in the 10,000 meter race and ran a leg on her team’s record 4×800 relay performance in June.

“I feel lucky to have had the year I have had,” Leetch said. “I was looking forward to having a great cross country season as well with a goal of capturing the individual and team title in Spokane. I did not have a perfect buildup to Nationals after developing an injury to my leg in late October, but I kept the faith, cross trained like crazy and kept my focus on making it to that starting line. It all paid off.

“I feel honored to be a part of this tough, amazing and fun group of special women. They inspire me to do my best and give me a reason to step on the line year in and year out. I enjoy being a role model to all young and old athletes who have a competitive soul in this amazing sport of running or any sport they do. I want them to know that it is possible to attain goals that they set. I also love being a role model to my young children who are setting their own path in the world right now and hope they are seeing that whatever they do in life, they work hard at what they do, because, to quote an often heard quote, ‘hard work pays off’ and to have fun in the process.”

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