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Deep fields ready to race at USATF Marathon Championships


SACRAMENTO – Led by Olympian Janet Bawcom and Olympic Trials top ten finisher Nick Arciniaga, the USATF Marathon Championships bring together deep fields Sunday morning in Sacramento, hosted by the California International Marathon, while concluding the 2017 USATF Running Circuit season.


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The women’s race offers a number of intriguing storylines. Leading the way is Bawcom, who competed for Team USA at the 2012 Olympic Games. Bawcom, who placed fifth at the U.S Olympic Team Trials – Marathon last year, enters with a personal best of 2:29:45 over the marathon distance and while she’s struggled with injury this season, she recently won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in 1:18:12.


Looking to double back from a personal best effort at the Frankfurt Marathon five weeks ago, Sara Hall is somewhat of a surprise entry. It’s rare for marathoners to double back so quickly from a fast marathon effort, but Hall is ready to race. The reigning USATF 10 Mile champion is having a tremendous year and her fifth place effort in Frankfurt makes her the fastest in the field Sunday.


Another notable entry is Lauren Totten (nee Jimison). Owning a personal best of 2:33:22, she’s one of the fastest in the field, while also having plenty of experience running the course in Sacramento, having placed third at the California International Marathon in 2016. Additionally, Totten placed fourth at Grandma’s Marathon in 2016, while finishing tenth overall at the USATF Half Marathon Championships earlier this year.


Other top veterans entered in Sunday’s contest include Kaitlin Gregg Goodman, Meghan Peyton, Carrie Dimoff and Roberta Groner. Peyton and Gregg Goodman finished fourteenth and fifteenth at the USATF Outdoor Championships this summer in the 10,000m, while Groner owns a marathon best of 2:36:33, while Dimoff ran 2:37:30, both coming at the Boston Marathon back in April.


Debuting in the marathon Sunday, veteran USATF Running Circuit runners Katie Matthews and Gabi Anzalone add notable talent capable of finishing top five. Matthews finished fourth at the USATF 25 km Championships earlier in the season, while Anzalone ran a 1:14:51 half marathon effort back in May.


In the men’s race, the amount of tightly matched talent should lead to a bevy of runners challenging their personal bests and racing for a top five finish. Arciniaga leads the way on paper. Owning the fastest marathon best, with his 2:11:30 PR, along with a top ten finish at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon last year, the experienced pro will no doubt push himself into contention despite racing sparingly this season.


Sure to challenge for victory Sunday, Daniel Tapia, Craig Leon and Tim Ritchie are each fully capable of running for the win. Tapia enters with the fastest personal best of the three with a 2:12:28 effort, while he finished third in Sacramento last year, giving him the edge when it comes to course experience.


For Leon, he’s coming off of a 2:18:09 sixth place effort at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon back in May. Racing seldom, it remains to be seen what sort of shape Leon will enter Sunday’s contest in, but his experience alone should push him to contend for a top three finish.


Entering with the strongest 2017 resume though is Ritchie. After finishing fourth at the USATF 25 km Championships this season, as well as earning fifth place finishes at the USATF Half Marathon and 20 km Championships, Ritchie will no doubt look to improve upon his 2:14:50 personal best and showcase the fitness that earned him a nearly three minute victory at the Hartford Half Marathon, finishing in a U.S. top ten time of 1:02:41.


The trio of Tyler Andrews, Tyler McCandless and Tim Young add additional talent to the field. Andrews ran an impressive 2:16:07 effort at the Otsu Marathon in Japan earlier this season, while Young ran 2:17:29 at the Chevron Houston Marathon in January. For McCandless, he’s coming off a runner-up effort at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon in October.


Meanwhile, while Ritchie currently sits fifth overall in the USATF Running Circuit standings, Jon Grey, who currently sits sixth, will seek to pick up some big points, as well. Grey finished fourth at the USATF 7 Mile Championships in July and will seek to improve greatly upon his 2:24:09 effort at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon in 2016.


Adding to the race’s intrigue, there are a number of men debuting in the marathon distance, as well. Parker Stinson, who ran a 63:17 half marathon best at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, while placing third at the USATF 25 km Championships, is a strong contender to challenge for top three,


Another notable marathon debutant is George-Byron Alex, who placed twelfth at the USATF Outdoor Championships this summer over 10,000m and more recently won the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon.


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 $127,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Marathon Championships.


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Marathon Championships, scoring is set as 37.5 for first, 30 for second, 25 for third, 17.5, 15, 12.5, 10, 7.5, 5 and 2.5, 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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