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Chelimo, Infeld headline impressive fields at USATF 15 km Championships

3/10/2017
 

JACKSONVILLE, Florida -- Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo and World Championship bronze medalist Emily Infeld lead strong men’s and women’s contingents into the USATF 15 km Championships Saturday morning in Jacksonville, Florida, hosted by the Gate River Run.

 

The USATF 15 km Championships are the second stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit. Race videos, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race in cooperation with RunnerSpace.com. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #USARC.

 

It’s been an impressive start to the 2017 season for Chelimo. Coming off a career year in 2016, which saw him win a silver medal in the 5000m in Rio, Chelimo is undefeated so far this season, having won the 3000m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in late January, then coming back last weekend to win the 3000m title at the USATF Indoor Championships by ten seconds.

 

While Chelimo will enter as the favorite, he should receive plenty of competition up front as he’s not as experienced over the longer 15 km distance as some of his competition.

 

Fellow Olympian Leonard Korir is having a terrific start to his season, too. Korir won the Great Edinburgh XCountry Meet in early January, besting a very strong field, then won the USATF Cross Country Championship title a month later. As he gears up to compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Korir clearly has the strength to challenge for the win.

 

Reigning USATF 15 km champion Stanley Kebenei is entered and looking to repeat his performance from a year ago. He enters having finished second to Korir in Bend at the USATF Cross Country Championships.

 

Third and fourth place finisher at those same USATF Cross Country Championships, Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir and Sam Chelanga are also entered and certainly capable of earning the victory on Saturday. Kipchirchir has never finished lower than third in a USATF Running Circuit contest, including a runner-up finish at the USATF 15 km Championships last year, while Chelanga has never finished lower than fourth and won the USATF 10 Mile Championship title last October.   

 

A trio of former University of Oregon athletes will push for top five finishes. Trevor Dunbar enters Saturday’s contest coming off of a sixth place finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships last month. He’s joined by U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials fourth place finisher Luke Puskedra and fellow former All-American Parker Stinson.

 

Abbabiya Simbassa is another runner to watch, coming off a big win at the NACAC Cross Country Championships last weekend. Simbassa also placed fifth in Jacksonville last year and has high hopes to challenge for a top five finish once again.

 

Other notable entries include USATF Cross Country Championship tenth place finisher Augustus Maiyo, former Stanford All-Americans Joe and Jim Rosa, who are competing for the Atlanta Track Club, along with teammate Kirubel Erassa. Two-time top three finisher Tim Ritchie is also entered.

 

In the women’s race, there’s a strong mix of successful track talents squaring off against experience road race veterans. Infeld leads the way having a World Championship medal to her name, while placing 11th in the 10,000m in Rio last summer. Infeld has never raced longer than 12 km, so Saturday’s contest will provide a new challenge for the Bowerman Track Club star.

 

While Infeld brings plenty of speed to the race, it’s Aliphine Tuliamuk who should set the early pace. Tuliamuk won multiple USATF Running Circuit races in 2016, her first season running as an American citizen. She kicked off her 2017 season with a big win at the USATF Cross Country Championships, earning her first chance to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, while dominating a strong field with a 47 second victory.

 

Entering with equal momentum is Jordan Hasay. Fresh off of a fourth place showing at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, where she ran one of the finest half marathon debuts in U.S. history with her 1:08:40 finish and beat Tuliamuk by over a minute, Hasay is clearly in good shape and challenge for the victory.

 

Two-time Olympian Kim Conley and Laura Thweatt are two other veterans capable of challenging for the win. Conley is back on the roads after a challenging TCS New York City Marathon debut in November. She has six top three finishes in USATF Running Circuit action over her career, with another top three finish Saturday certainly a possibility.

 

For Thweatt, who placed second behind Tuliamuk at the USATF Cross Country Championships last month, she’s focused on training for the Boston Marathon next month, but Saturday’s race offers her a chance to test her fitness, as well as improve upon her runner-up finish from last year.

 

Natosha Rogers and Neely Gracey are two others ready to challenge for top five finishes. Former NCAA champion Rogers earned a top ten finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships last month, while Gracey easily won the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon last month. Both are showing fine form and gaining experience on the roads in their young professional careers.

 

Boston Athletic Association teammate Elaina Balouris and Katie Matthews are also in the field. Balouris looks to build off her sixth place finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships last month as she prepares to compete for Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships later this month, while Matthews seeks to show similar form to her fifth place finish in Jacksonville last year.

 

About the USATF Running Circuit

 

The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF road series featuring USATF championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $58,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 15 km Championships

 

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 15 km Championships, scoring is set as 22.5 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 10.5, 9, 7.5, 6, 4.5, 3 and 2, with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.

 

The mission of the USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.

 

Contributed by Scott Bush


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