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Huddle, Ward Look for USATF Running Circuit Titles at .US National 12K

11/13/2015
 

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- The 2015 USATF Running Circuit concludes this Sunday, November 15, at the .US National 12K in Alexandria, Virginia, as standings leaders Molly Huddle and Jared Ward seek to cement their overall leads and capture part of the $100,000 prize purse.

 

For Huddle, the Providence-based Olympian looks to capture her third consecutive USATF Running Circuit overall title, while winning her fifth-straight race on the circuit. Huddle has been on a tear since her fourth place finish at the IAAF World Championships, taking home top prize in dominant fashion at the USATF 20 km, 5 km, 10 mile and women’s 10 km championship events. She beat a strong inaugural field in 2013 and 2014 in Alexandria and seems poised to challenge for the win once again.

 

While Huddle owns pre-race favorite status, she’ll have to keep a close eye on Brianne Nelson, who currently sits second in the overall standings, a mere nine points behind (75-66). Nelson lines up Sunday coming off a fourth place showing at the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships last month, while owning three other top three finishes this season.

 

Kim Conley is another top contender eyeing a top three overall circuit finish, as well as challenging Huddle for the .US National 12K title. Conley placed third in Boston at the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships in October and looks to improve upon her third place finish in Alexandria last year.

 

For Sara Hall, who sits sixth in the overall standings, the experienced veteran enters Sunday’s race after her 2:31:14 performance at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last month. The versatile star placed second at the USATF 25 km Championships earlier in the season and has the versatility to handle the tough 12 km distance.

 

B.A.A. High Performance teammates Jen Rhines, Emma Bates and Juliet Bottorff all expect to contend for top ten this weekend. The 41-year old Rhines owns two top-five finishes on the USATF Running Circuit this season and continues to put herself in contention for top finishes time and time again.

 

As for Bottorff and Bates, both young pros look to make their mark against a strong field. Bottorff finished seventh at the 2014 .US National 12K and is rounding into form after injury knocked her out of summer competition, while Bates is coming off an 11th place performance at the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships, her pro road racing debut.

 

Three other experienced pros, in Alexi Pappas, Mattie Suver and Alisha Williams are each fully capable to finish in the top three. Suver currently sits seventh overall in the USATF Running Circuit standings and hopes to improve upon her tenth place showing at the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships. Pappas finished eighth last year and has run well on the roads this season and Williams finished fifth at the USATF Women’s 10 km Championships a month ago.

 

The list of top competitors rounds out with the entries of recent Mayors Cup champion Liz Costello, veteran Dot McMahan, Katie Matthews, Marci Gage and Meghan Peyton. Matthews and Peyton each earned multiple top ten finishes during the 2015 USATF Running Circuit season, while Gage placed an impressive fourth at the USATF 25 km Championships.

 

On the men’s side, while Ward enters Sunday’s competition eyeing the overall circuit title, there are a number of men who will run for top prize in the race itself. Defending champion Brian Shrader, who’s had a very quiet 2015 season, is entered, along with the 2-5 finishers in 2015. The competition will be fierce at the top, as runners vie for their shot at the $20,000 first prize.

 

Ward owns three 2015 national titles to his name. His winning performance at the USATF Marathon Championships early in the year make him one of the favorites as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon nears, and USATF 25 km and 20 km victories show his versatility over shorter distances.

 

New American citizen Sam Chelanga is another pre-race favorite, having won his first national title at the USATF 10 Mile Championships in early October. Chelanga has the fastest 10,000m track personal best in the field and could very well jump up to the second spot in the USATF Running Circuit standings, where he currently sits 8.5 points behind Dathan Ritzenhein.

 

2014 circuit champion Christo Landry, who finished second at the USATF 15 km and 25 km Championships, and Girma Mecheso, who placed third at the USATF Half Marathon and 15 km Championships, should vie for top three finishes both in the race and the overall standings. Landry placed eighth in Alexandria last year, while Mecheso finished fifth.

 

Reigning USATF Half Marathon champion Diego Estrada and USATF 10 Mile runner-up Tyler Pennel are two others to keep a close eye on. While both start their preparation for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon this February, Sunday’s race gives them one more chance to test their speed on the roads. Estrada finished a narrow second to Shrader in 2014.

 

Olympic steeplechase runner Donn Cabral makes a rare appearance on the roads. While he did finish fourth at the USATF 15 km Championships earlier this year, he’s known more for his work on the track. Having finished third in the 3,000m steeplechase at the USATF Outdoor Championships and tenth in the event at the IAAF World Championships, Cabral certainly has speed his competition cannot overlook.

 

Similarly, Shadrack Kipchirchir readies to race on the roads. Kipchirchir finished fourth in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, earning a spot on Team USA for the first time, then finished sixteenth overall at the IAAF World Championships.

 

USATF 5 km Championship fifth place finisher Jason Witt, 2013 .US National 12K champion Aaron Braun, USATF 10 Mile Championship fourth place finisher Jim Spisak, USATF 5 km Championship eighth place finisher German Fernandez and USATF 1 Mile Championship third place finisher Trevor Dunbar round out the list of top competitors.

 

Live Coverage

The .US National 12K will be broadcast live beginning at 7:40 am ET at USATF.tv. Race video, 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 #dotUS2015.

 

About the USATF Running Circuit

The USATF Running Circuit is a USA Track & Field 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 $100,000 in prize money will be awarded at the .US National 12K.

 

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the .US National 12K, scoring is set as 30 for first, 24 for second, 20 for third, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 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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