INDIANAPOLIS - Defending champions Janet Bawcom and Mo Trafeh lead strong fields chasing after $53,000 in prize money at the USA 15 km Championships hosted by the Gate River Run this Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.
The USA 15 km Championships are the second stop on the USA Running Circuit, which will conclude this fall with the .US National Road Racing Championships. The top ten finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the .US National Road Racing Championships.
On the women’s side, Olympian Janet Bawcom, eyes another USA 15 km title, after winning the 2012 title by 16 seconds in 49:41. Bawcom is one of the strongest road racers in the U.S. after winning the overall USA Running Circuit titles in 2011 and 2012.
Bawcom will have to face fellow Olympian and U.S. Olympic Trials 5,000m champion Julie Culley. This will be Culley’s second race on the USA Running Circuit after, placing fourth this past October at the USA 10 Mile Championships.
Other women to watch include 2013 USA indoor 3,000m champion Chelsea Reilly, 2011 USA 15 km champion Jen Rhines and 2012 Olympic Trials 10,000m fifth place finisher Alisha Williams.
In the men’s race, three-time winner Trafeh returns to defend his title after pulling away from the field in 2012, to win by 14 seconds in 43:23. While he is the pre-race favorite heading into Saturday’s race, he will have plenty of competition, as 2012 USA 15 km Championship runner-up Christo Landry and third place finisher Tim Ritchie return to challenge for their first USA Road Championship titles.
Other men to watch include Ben True and Ryan Vail who will compete for Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships later this month. True and Vail, who finished fifth and sixth at the USA Cross Country Championships, opened up their 2013 racing seasons in impressive fashion in St. Louis and look to carry that momentum to Jacksonville.
With nine of the top 20 finishers from the U.S. Cross Country Championships, along with athletes like Bobby Curtis and experienced veteran Shadrack Biwott, the men’s race promises to be both tightly contested and deep with talent.
Live text updates of the USA 15 km Championships will be available at www.USARunningCircuit.com
beginning at 8:20 a.m. ET. Video of the race, 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
About the USARC
The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA 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 $53,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USA 15 km Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.
The mission of the USARC is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush