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Korir, Hall to Contend for Titles at USATF Half Marathon Championships


PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania – Olympian Leonard Korir and veteran standout Sara Hall lead strong fields in action Sunday morning at the USATF Half Marathon Championships in Pittsburgh.


The USATF Half Marathon Championships, hosted by the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, are the fourth stop on the 2019 USATF Running Circuit. Race videos, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race in cooperation with Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #USARC.


After a fifth place showing at the USATF Half Marathon Championships last year, Korir has his sights set on the win this time around. The 2016 Olympian won the event in 2017 and has a runner-up finish at the USATF 15 km Championships and third place finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships this season.


Korir has the fastest half marathon personal best in the field by over two minutes, having run 59:52 in 2017. He’ll be the focus of the lead pack early on, as he eyes yet another USATF Running Circuit victory and taking over the lead spot in the USATF Running Circuit standings, where he currently trails teammate Shadrack Kipchirchir in points, 37.5-28.


Behind Korir, there are nearly a dozen other runners fully capable of challenging for a top three finish on the day, with 10 of those athletes having personal bests of 1:03:44 or faster.


Reed Fischer has the second fastest personal best in the field, with a 1:02:06 time, which he earned a tenth place finish (top American) at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon back in January. Fischer has flown a bit under the radar over the past year, but he’s a star on the rise and finished fourth in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships last summer.


Brogan Austin and Colin Bennie are two others to keep an eye on. Austin holds a 1:02:39 personal best in the half marathon and won the USATF Marathon Championships last fall. Bennie owns a similar half marathon personal best of 1:02:45, while finishing sixth at the USATF 15 km Championships earlier this season.


Stanley Kebenei, known more for his exploits in the steeplechase and in shorter races on the roads, is entered and looking to build off his fifth place finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships and third place USATF 15 km Championship effort earlier this season. He doesn’t have as much experience in the half marathon distance as much of his competition, but he’s clearly talented enough to challenge for a very high finish.


The quintet from On ZAP Endurance, based in North Carolina, also hope to make some noise in Pittsburgh. Andrew Colley leads the way for the squad, looking to improve upon his third place showing in 2018. He’s joined by Matt McClintock, who placed sixth in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, Joe Stilin, Josh Izewski and Aaron Nelson, who’ll be making his debut in the half marathon. Colley, McClintock, Stilin and Izewski all own personal bests between 1:20:24-1:03:42.


Rounding out the men’s field, Tim Young hopes to earn another top ten finish, having two to his name already in 2016 and 2017. Eric Ashe enters Sunday’s action with a 1:03:33 PR, while Futsum Zienasellassie enters with a 1:03:10 best.


On the women’s side, Hall enters Sunday’s contest less than three weeks after a 15th place at the Boston Marathon. Hall ran 2:35:34, well off her personal best, and fans can be sure she’ll look for a little redemption in Pittsburgh.


Hall finished second at the 2018 USATF Half Marathon Championships and her 1:09:37 PR in the event is more than a minute faster than anyone else in the field. Hall has shown in the past the ability to bounce back and race quickly after a hard race effort and her versatility in race distances will help her contend for the win.


Stephanie Bruce needs to be considered an equal co-favorite in the women’s field. While Hall has the faster half marathon PR and experience on the course, Bruce has been running incredibly well over the past 18 months. The Flagstaff-based runner owns a PR of 1:10:53, while finishing second at the USATF Marathon Championships last fall and third in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships last summer.


More recently, Bruce led Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, finishing 33rd overall and as the top American.


Another notable contender entered Sunday is Bethany Sachtleben. Having placed tenth at the 2018 USATF Half Marathon Championships, Sachtleben has good experience to draw on in Pittsburgh. Her PR of 1:12:24 only ranks behind Hall and Bruce and her recent runner-up performance at the USATF 15 km Championships shows she is in fine form. A top seven finish would put her on top of the USATF Running Circuit standings, as she currently sits second to Erika Kemp, 22.5-18 points.


Katy Jermann enters with a recent eighth place performance at the USATF 15 km Championships and a personal half marathon best of 1:12:58, while Taylor Ward is another top three contender, with a PR of 1:13:27 and a top ten finish in late March at the LA Marathon.


Others to keep an eye on include former University of Colorado All-American Erin Clark, USATF Running Circuit veteran Meghan Peyton, who owns a half marathon best of 1:13:43, and Andie Cozzarelli, who has run 1:12:51 over the half marathon distance. Joanna Thompson and Katja Goldring are also top five contenders with half marathon bests of 1:14:10 and 1:14:00 respectively.


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 $85,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Half Marathon Championships.


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Half Marathon Championships, scoring is set as 22.5 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 10.5, 9, 7.5, 6, 4.5, 3 and 1.5, 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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