ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ The defending champion of the 5K Freihofer's Run for Women has pulled out of Saturday's national championship race because of injuries sustained while filming a commercial for Nike.

Elva Dryer, the reigning U.S. 3,000-meter champion, was tripped while running with a group of extras last week in Los Angeles as they were filming a commercial featuring Nike-sponsored runners including Michael Johnson and Uta Pippig.

``Better me than Michael Johnson,'' joked Dryer.

``It's just a freak thing. Accidents happen,'' Dryer said in a phone interview from her Albuquerque home. ``It happened so fast,'' Dryer said, adding that she mostly had scrapes and bruises. ``I felt some feet.

``It's just the timing was bad ... just right smack in the middle of my season.'' she said.

Dryer, 26, said she decided to pull out on Wednesday to prevent any further damage and to be ready for the track and field outdoor nationals on June 19.

``I was just sick,'' Libbie Hickman, also featured in the Nike spot, said about Dryer's accident. Hickman, who will compete in Saturday's race, said the shoot was a tough workout.

The Nike commercial focuses on a jogger who imagines himself competing against a group of elite runners, Hickman said. A spokesman for the company did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Hickman said it was a shame Dryer could not come back to defend her title at the all-female race that draws a host of world class runners and Olympians. The Friehofer's race will be held simultaneously with the USA Masters Championship, which will feature Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Dryer was clocked last year in 15 minutes, 29 seconds last year, upsetting Lynn Jennings, a seven-time winner, by only one second. Cheri Goddard-Kenah placed third at 15:32.

Jennings and Goddard-Kenah will compete again this year for $35,000 in prizes, but they face a strong challenge from Hickman, the U.S. 5000 champion.