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Hall, Ritchie win big at USATF Marathon Championships


SACRAMENTO, California – Sara Hall dominated the women’s race from the start, while Timothy Ritchie used a conservative first half of the race to run away from the field in the second half, as both runners claimed victory at the USATF Marathon Championships Sunday morning in Sacramento, hosted by the California International Marathon.


The USATF Marathon Championships are the final stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit, as Aliphine Tuliamuk and Leonard Korir won the overall circuit titles in impressive fashion. Tuliamuk edged runner-up Hall, 123-87, while Korir’s consistency throughout the season led to his 112-80 win total over second place Sam Chelanga.


Parker Stinson shot to the lead as the gun sounded and built a lead of well over a minute very early on and for a time it seemed as though Stinson, who was making his marathon debut, would simply run away from the field and cruise to victory.


Stinson passed through the halfway point in 1:04:41, 1:22 ahead of second place Jonathan Grey, who broke free of the chase pack and worked hard to bridge the gap with Stinson. The question remained though, would Stinson be able to hold pace and fend off an experienced group of runners behind him?


While the chase pack started to pick up steam with six miles to go, Grey began to slow and within a minute, Ritchie, Tyler McCandless and Kiya Dandena passed by, refocusing their sights on Stinson in the lead.


Shortly after mile 23, as the chase trio neared, Stinson seemed to get a cramp, his early pace starting to sink in. As Stinson struggled to maintain form, McCandless, Ritchie and Dandena caught and passed the Boulder-based runner with relative ease. Stinson, who simply dominated from the gun, looked defeated, slowed to a walk, began jogging again, but simply couldn’t regain form.


Now firmly established in the lead, Ritchie and McCandless continued to push, with Dandena unable to maintain pace. As the 28-year old dropped off, it was now a two-man race to the finish with two miles to go.


With a mile and a half left in the race, Ritchie put in one more surge, a move McCandless ultimately couldn’t handle and it was now off to the races for Ritchie. The 30-year old, USATF Running Circuit veteran, looked strong, running with confidence and building his lead stride by stride.


Into the homestretch, Ritchie powered home, swinging a sharp right hook into the finish tape as he crossed the line, owning a new personal best of 2:11:56. McCandless never let go of second, running to a 2:12:28 finish. Dandena finished strong as well, holding onto third place in 2:12:56.


The race continued to be close as runners came in fast and furious. Anthony Costales and Samuel Kosgei finished fourth and fifth respectively, running 2:13:12 and 2:13:25, while Malcolm Richards, Craig Leon and Christopher Zablocki all finished under 2:14, as well, in 2:13:28, 2:13:41 and 2:13:45 in 6-7-8.


Finishing up the top ten, Tim Young ran to a ninth place finish in 2:14:14, while Nathan Martin took tenth in 2:14:33.


In the women’s race, Sara Hall and Carrie Dimoff quickly jumped to the lead in Sacramento, establishing a pace no one else in the field wanted to challenge. As the duo hit the first mile, Dimoff fell off and let Hall run alone at the front.


Passing through mile two, Hall already has established a 50 meter lead over Dimoff, who herself was more than 100 meters ahead of third place and the rest of the field.


As the race carried on, Hall maintained her pace, running mile after mile in 5:40 and on pace to challenge her personal best of 2:27:21, which she ran at the Frankfurt Marathon only five weeks ago.


Dimoff eventually slipped back to the chase pack, with a group of four women including Dimoff, Kaitlin Gregg Goodman, Samantha Bluske and Roberta Groner working together to move throughout the streets of Sacramento.


Passing halfway, Hall had more than a two minute lead, still running PR pace as she came through in 1:13:38. The California native’s pace never slowed, building her lead to nearly three and a half minutes by 20 miles.


Behind Hall, Dimoff, Groner and Bluske pulled away from Gregg Goodman, while Dimoff and Groner eventually set on a pace that Bluske couldn’t handle, as the two experienced runners battled it out over the final miles, making the runner-up finish a race to watch.


As the finish came into sight for Hall, she cracked a wide smile, running 2:28:10. Hall’s margin of victory, which ended up being a lead of 2:27, cemented just how impressive her performance was Sunday morning and giving her 37.5 points towards her USATF Running Circuit total, moving her into second place overall in the standings with 85 points.


Coming in second, the 39-year old Groner closed strong, holding off Dimoff and Bluske for an impressive 2:30:37. Dimoff was also able to slip under 2:31 with a third place finish of 2:30:52, while Bluske and Gregg Goodman rounded out the top five in 2:31:55 and 2:32:08.


Finishing the top ten results, Kelsey Bruce ran strong over the final few miles to hold off Olympian Janet Bawcom for sixth, 2:34:03-2:35:19. Madeline Duhon took eighth in 2:35:27, while Lauren Totten and Dawn Grunnagle placed ninth and tenth in 2:35:33 and 2:35:42.


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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