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Korir Eyes USATF Running Circuit Lead at USATF 20 km Championships


NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – In 2017, Olympian Leonard Korir finished second at the USATF 20 km Championships in New Haven, Connecticut. This year, the reigning USATF Running Circuit overall champion looks to come away victorious, leading another strong contingent of American runners Labor Day morning.


The USATF 20 km Championships, hosted by the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race, are the seventh stop on the 2018 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.


In the men’s field, seven of the top ten finishers from 2017 are back and ready to contend for the title. Last year, Korir finished one second behind race champion Galen Rupp, but with no Rupp entered, Korir will seek to earn his second USATF 20 km title after winning the race in 2016.


In addition to vying for the victory, Korir seeks to take over the lead in the USATF Running Circuit. He currently sits four points behind leader Sam Chelanga, 55-51, and Chelanga is not racing.


Korir will be running both with and against his U.S. Army teammates in New Haven. In what’s become a familiar sight in the USATF Running Circuit, Korir is joined by a trio of other U.S. Army teammates and fans can expect them to run a large portion of the race together up front.


Elkanah Kibet, Samuel Kosgei and Haron Lagat are each having terrific 2018 seasons. Kibet, who is preparing for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, placed fourth at the USATF 20 km Championships in 2016, while earning a fifth place finish at the USATF 25 km Championships earlier this season and a third place finish in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships.


For Kosgei, Monday’s race is another chance to move up the USATF Running Circuit standings. Currently sitting sixth overall, Kosgei finished sixth at the USATF 20 km Championships in 2017. Using that experience, along with the momentum built from fifth place finishes at the USATF Half Marathon Championships and USATF 25 km Championships earlier this season, Kosgei should be in the top three as the race enters the closing stages.


For Lagat, he’s stepping up in distance. The experience steeplechase runner on the track finished sixth in the event this summer at the USATF Outdoor Championships, while earning a runner-up finish at the USATF 10 km Championships. If he can hold form with his teammates until the final stages of the race, his superior speed could prove crucial to earning a top three placing.


Not to be overlooked, Martin Hehir, who recently joined former Syracuse teammate Justyn Knight and coach Chris Fox in a new Reebok-sponsored training group, enters Monday’s race sitting fourth in the USATF Running Circuit standings, only 1.5 points behind third place Scott Fauble. Hehir showed success earlier in the season at the USATF 15 km Championships, where he placed third, and is ready to challenge for another big finish.


Other notable returnees include USATF Running Circuit veterans Christo Landry and Tim Ritchie. Landry placed fourth at the 2017 USATF 20 km Championships, which came off a third place finish in 2016. Ritchie captured fifth place in both the 2017 and 2016 editions. Both runners haven proven expertise on the course and if fully healthy could very well push for another top five finish.


Similar to others in the field, Aaron Braun is using Monday’s race as a tune-up to the Chicago Marathon, as are Kiya Dandena and Jonas Hampton, who finished seventh and eighth at the USATF 20 km Championships in 2017.


Ahmed Osman, who placed tenth in 2017, Olympian Donn Cabral, USATF Running Circuit veteran Fernando Cabada, Oregon Track Club runner Luke Puskedra and Braun’s HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite teammate Futsum Zienasellassie also have a chance to vie for top five finishes.


On the women’s side, Sara Hall, who was third in 2017, already has a runner-up finish at the USATF Half Marathon Championships and third at the USATF 10 km Championships this season. Hall has proven versatility over countless distances on the road and should challenge for the win in New Haven.


Hall is joined up front by Emma Bates. Bates, who is training in Boise this season after spending the past few seasons training and living in Boston, heads back east to race. Bates currently sits fourth in the USATF Running Circuit standings, only four points behind second place Seidel and one point behind third place Stephanie Bruce. She enters Monday’s competition coming off a sixth place finish at the USATF 10 km Championships.


Allie Kiefer and Sarah Crouch are two other highly experienced runners who should challenge for top three finishes. Crouch, who’s in her build-up to the Chicago Marathon next month, currently sits eighth in the USATF Running Circuit standings, after placing third at the USATF 25 km Championships earlier in the season, finishing only behind Aliphine Tuliamuk and Bates.


Meanwhile, Kieffer hits the roads of New Haven hoping to build off her sixth place showing in 2017. With that experience, and a fourth place effort at the USATF 10 km Championships in July, she’s clearly in fine racing form.


2011 champion and 2015 runner-up Janet Bawcom is entered and hoping to get back to her competitive ways. For years, Bawcom was a fixture on the USATF Running Circuit, but the past two seasons have been filled with the ups and downs of dealing with injury. A healthy and fit Bawcom though makes her an instant contender.


2013 champion Meghan Peyton, USATF Running Circuit veterans Lindsey Scherf and Maddie Van Beek, along with Chicago-bound Katie Matthews and the always competitive Kaitlin Goodman add even more depth and talent to the women’s field.


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 $36,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 20 km Championships


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 20 km 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 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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