© Copyright – 2012 – Athletics Illustrated

Mo Trafeh is the defending two-time (consecutive) champion of the Gate River 15k. He is back for a third consecutive attempt on Saturday, March 10th. During the 2010 and 2011 races Trafeh, won in the identical time of 42:58. The  course record of 42:22 was set by Todd William in 1995. Williams won five times in six years. Trafeh, 26 has spent parts of the previous three years training in Flagstaff, Arizona as well as Morocco.

The Gate River 15k has attracted some of the best runners over the years. At the inaugural race in 1976, Bil Rogers won, since then some of the first place finishers have been Bob Hodge, Grete Waitz (twice), Joan Benoit, Lynn Jennings, Meb Keflezighi (five times), Deena Drossin (Kastor) (four consecutive), Anthony Famiglietti and Arturo Barrios (twice), to name a few.

Trafeh’s Personal bests

10km – 28:18

15km – 42:51

20km – 57:46

Half Marathon – 60:39

The Interview

Christopher Kelsall: Are you racing the Gate River 15k again this year?

Mo Trafeh: Yes I am.

CK: I know you have been asked this before, but is this the time for you to now take the course record of 42:22, will it happen this year?

MT: 42:22 is no joke on this course. It’s a tough record to break considering the course includes two huge bridges. I will see how I feel on race day and go from there.

CK: You have said that you like to go in as the underdog. I guess you aren’t referring to the Gate River 15k, being the two-time defending champ?

MT: Yes I like being the underdog, but winning twice makes me one of the favorites. It’s a race and there will only be one winner. I’m going out there to enjoy the race and let my legs do the talking.

CK: Can you compare the difference between the Gate River 15k and the New York 15k courses.

MT: They’re both beautiful courses and both have a nice atmosphere. They’re not that different except the two hills in Jacksonville are long. The course in New York on the other hand has rolling hills, but they can both be fast.

CK: In regards to the rolling versus long hills of the two courses, how would you tackle the two different types of hills? For you is it as simple as just run X pace throughout or are you tactical about it?

MT: I try to always have courage and mental toughness approaching hills of any type. When racing in rolling courses, I push hard up the hills and focus on keeping a good form, which is different when going up long hills. I just try to be as conservative as possible because they can take a toll on the body. So the closer I get to the top, the faster I go just to be on the safe side.

CK: You seem to have your best performances over 15k, to the half marathon. Are you going to continue to focus on these distances, going forward?

MT: I Agree that I have been successful racing these distances, but the best of Mo is yet to come on the track before heading back up to the marathon. I have only raced a handful of track races. It would be exciting to get back to the 1500m-5000m.

CK: The list of past winners is a whose who of American distance running. There are some big names who have won including the inaugural year when Bill Rogers won. What is it about the event that attracts this caliber of athlete?

MT: It’s a big honor adding my name to the list of well accomplished runners such as Meb and Bill Rogers. Richard Fannin always does his best to bring in the best. It’s a perfect distance for the athletes to test their fitness and doesn’t matter about their specialty.