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Korir Seeks Three-Peat at USATF 15 km Championships


JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Olympian Leonard Korir looks to continue his dominance in Jacksonville, Florida Saturday morning at the USATF 15 km Championships, hosted by the Gate River Run.


The USATF 15 km Championships are the second 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.


For Korir, who is not only the two-time defending USATF 15 km champion but also the two-time defending USATF Running Circuit overall champion, the 2016 Olympian is ready to use his experience in Jacksonville to work his way up the 2019 circuit standings, after finishing third last month at the USATF Cross Country Championships.


Along with Korir, teammates Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei have their eye on victory Saturday. The duo, along with Korir, are set to represent Team USATF at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships later this month and will use Saturday’s race to tune-up for the big event in Denmark.


Kipchirchir kicked off his season with a big-time victory at the USATF Cross Country Championships, holding off Emmanuel Bor, Korir and Hillary Bor in the final stages of the race, while Kebenei finished fifth. Both have experience in Jacksonville, as Kipchirchir finished second at the USATF 15 km Championships in 2016 and 2017, while Kebenei won the event in 2016.


The trio’s main competition should come from Nike Oregon Project’s Eric Jenkins and Martin Hehir. Jenkins, who placed third in the 1500m at the USATF Outdoor Championships last season, looks to test his early season strength on the roads, while Hehir is coming off of a tenth place at the USATF Cross Country Championships last month, but hopes to build off his third place finish in Jacksonville in 2018.


Veterans Ryan Vail, Samuel Kosgei and Kiya Dandena are also entered and should challenge for top five finishes. Vail placed sixth at last year’s event, while Kosgei and Dandena consistently challenge for high placings on the USATF Running Circuit. All three are savvy racers.


Rounding out the list of top contenders, young pros Tommy Curtin, Jerrell Mock and Futsum Zeinasellassie are ready to race. Mock is having a fine start to his 2019 campaign, having run 1:02:15 for the half marathon distance in Houston in January, while having a strong 28:33.58 10,000m effort on the track three weeks ago


In the women’s field, Chelsea Blaase is the top returnee from 2018, having placed fourth. The 24-year old is coming off a season in which she set new personal bests in the 5000m and 10,000m on the track, as well as 5 km on the roads. After such a strong season, Blaase looks to build on that momentum this weekend.


Two more top ten finishers from 2018 are entered, as Maddie Van Beek who placed seventh, and Bethany Sachtleben who placed ninth look to improve upon their results this time around. Both USATF Running Circuit regulars, Van Beek earned two top seven finishes in 2018, while Sachtleben earned a fifth place finish at the USATF Marathon Championships, while placing tenth in the overall standings.


Joining the lead ranks, Olympian Shalaya Kipp is ready to test her fitness on the roads. A consistent force in the steeplechase, including a fourth place finish in the event at the USATF Outdoor Championships last season, Kipp has continued to test herself on the roads at longer distances.


Another top contender is Rachel Schneider, who finished second in the 3000m at the NYRR Millrose Games last month. Known for her track prowess, including a runner-up finish in the 5000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships last summer, Schneider now challenges herself in one of the longest race distance she’s ever tackled.


USATF Running Circuit veterans Lindsey Scherf and Meghan Peyton are proven top ten contenders, while Katy Jermann and Kate Landau, who finished in the fourth and eighth at the Road to Gold 8 mile in Atlanta late last month are clearly in fine form and should challenge for top five. Erika Kemp, who placed second at the USATF 5 km Championships in 2018 is also entered.


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 $53,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 15 km Championships


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 15 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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