INDIANAPOLIS – Coming off her American 5,000m record of 14:42.64 a week ago in Monaco, Molly Huddle looks to take home another national championship Saturday at the USA 7 Mile Championships in Davenport, Iowa, hosted by the Quad-City Times Bix 7.
The USA 7 Mile Championships are the eighth stop on the 2014 USA Running Circuit, which concludes 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.
Huddle leads the women’s field, while having a career year. The 2012 Olympian set personal bests on the track this season over the mile, 5,000m and 10,000m distances, while running sub-1:10 in the half marathon back in March. Her consistency, front running tenacity and growing confidence makes Huddle the favorite heading into Saturday’s race.
Fellow Olympian and training mate Amy Hastings enters having won the USA 10 km Championships earlier in July. Hastings took home the title in Atlanta, winning by 12 seconds, her performance coming a week after she finished third at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships over 10,000m. Huddle and Hastings look to battle one another from the gun and should run stride for stride for much of the race.
Just behind Huddle and Hastings, Sara Hall and Mattie Suver go head-to-head, with the winner of the two taking over the USARC standings lead. Currently, the two are tied at 34 points apiece. Hall owns three top ten finishes this season, including a strong runner-up finish to Hastings at the recent USA 10 km Championships, while Suver owns two third place performances at the USA Cross Country Championships and USA 25 km Championships in 2014.
Rising star Rachel Ward looks to build off her third place performance at the USA 10 km Championships and fifth place finish at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000m. Ward is joined by Brianne Nelson, who owns two top five finishes in the USA Running Circuit, having placed fourth at the USA 25 km Championships and fifth at the USA 10 Mile Championships this season.
Experienced marathoners Clara Santucci and Serena Burla, who won the USA Half Marathon Championships earlier this season, both test their talents over the seven mile distance. Their strength should help them over the challenging second half of the course in Davenport.
USA Half Marathon Championship runner-up Lauren Kleppin, USARC veteran Lindsey Scherf, Iowa native and Olympian Lisa Uhl, first year pro Jennifer Bergman, Wendy Thomas, Sarah Pease and Uhl’s former Iowa State teammate Semehar Tesfaye round out the field.
On the men’s side, Christo Landry seeks his fourth title of the year. Despite not winning a national title coming into the season, Landry is on fire in 2014, taking home USA 10 Mile, 25 km and 10 km titles. Landry currently owns a massive 25-point edge in the USARC standings and hopes to expand his lead with five races left to go in the USARC season.
On Landry’s heels, Olympic medalist and 2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi seeks his third title in Davenport, having won in 2002 and 2009. Having raced sparingly since his historic win in Boston, it remains to be seen what type of racing shape he is in, but the veteran always puts him into position to finish well. A strong finish by Keflezighi may very well propel him from his current seventh place tie in the USARC standings into the top three.
The two athletes with the most momentum coming in to Saturday’s race besides Landry are Sean Quigley and Stephen Pifer. Quigley, who recently finished fourth at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships over 10,000m, owns an impressive mix of speed, strength and experience. Meanwhile, Pifer enters off a six place finish at the USA 10 km Championships earlier this month.
Team USA Minnesota teammates Eric Finan and Jonathan Peterson earned top ten finishes at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000m event, as well. Both continue to have career years, with personal bests over the mile, 3,000m and 5,000m distances on the track.
Another group, Northern Arizona Elite, bring two athletes more than capable of challenging for top three finishes. Matt Llano finished fifth at the USA Half Marathon Championships and USA 15 km Championships earlier in the season. A small injury knocked him out of the recent USA 10 km Championships, but he’s healthy and raring to go. Teammate Eric Fernandez, who’s coming into his own as the season progresses, could surprise with a big performance, too.
USARC veteran Josphat Boit looks to get back in the routine of challenging for top five, having sat out much of the season thus far. He’s joined by 13:15 5,000m runner Diego Estrada, former University of Wisconsin All-Americans Elliot Krause and Maverick Darling, as well as Patrick Rizzo and Ben Sathre, all hoping for fast finishes.
Live text updates of the USA 7 Mile Championships will be available at www.USARunningCircuit.com beginning at 8:00 am CT. Video of the race, 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.
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 $50,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USA 7 Mile 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