By John Schumacher
Olympian Kim Conley, who runs for the Sacramento Running Association’s Elite Team, earned a spot in the World Cross Country Championships with a second-place finish Saturday in the U.S. Cross Country Championships in St. Louis.
Conley, a former UC Davis standout, ran with winner Shalane Flanagan for six kilometers in the 8k race before Flanagan pulled ahead in the final 2,000 meters. Flanagan finished in 25 minutes and 49 seconds, with Conley crossing the line in 26:06 and Deena Kastor grabbing third in 26:41.
“It was very fun to race Shalane for as long as I did as she is someone I have looked up to for many years,” said Conley, who joins the U.S. team heading to Bydgoszcz, Poland for the world championships on March 24.
“I laid everything I had out there but she was stronger over the final 2,000 meters. I’m thrilled to be a part of a great team going to Poland for the world championships.”
Conley, who used a training grant from the Sacramento Running Association to earn a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the women’s 5,000 meters, said she’s focused on becoming a world-class runner.
“Making the (Olympic) team had changed my mental approach,” she said. “It’s a different approach in my training now that I know that I’ve made an Olympic team and it’s not a lofty dream to make a world championship team. I believe that I can be at that level instead of hoping I can be at that level.”
Conley was recently honored as the Athlete of the Year at the Sacramento Running Association’s Hall of Fame and Annual Achievement Awards dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.