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Landry, Welling seek to defend titles at USATF Half Marathon Championships

4/28/2017
 

INDIANAPOLIS – At the USATF Half Marathon Championships Saturday morning in Columbus, Ohio, defending champions Christo Landry and Tara Welling look to repeat the magic of their performances from 2016, but they will find plenty of competition from strong fields across the board.

 

The USATF Half Marathon Championships, hosted by the Capital City Half Marathon, are the fourth stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit. The race will be shown live via USATF.TV in partnership with local Columbus network 10TV. Race videos, 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 #USARC.

 

While Landry brings a wealth of experience to this USATF Running Circuit race, it’s Olympian Leonard Korir who enters as the pre-race favorite. Having won the USATF 15 km title earlier this season, as well as the USATF Cross Country Championships, Korir is simply running at a different level this season.

 

Building off his twentieth place showing at the IAAF Cross Country Championships, as well as an incredible win at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon back in January, Korir is clearly in shape and ready to race.

 

Korir’s closest competition should come from Sam Chelanga. After leading Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, where he placed eleventh, Chelanga seeks to build off his third place showing at the USATF 15 km Championships last month. Coming off a big win at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in New York City earlier this month, Chelanga can certainly pull off the win.

 

For defending champion Landry, he’s off to a relatively quiet start to his season compared to some of his competition. He did finish eighth overall at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile at the start of the month, finishing as the top American. A win Saturday would be a perfect birthday present, as the reigning USATF Running Circuit overall champion turns 31.

 

HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite’s Scott Fauble looks to gain more experience on the roads. After a sixteenth place finish at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon earlier this year, as well as his 36th place showing at the IAAF Cross Country Championships, Fauble seems poised for a big race and hopes to improve upon his runner-up finish at the USATF Half Marathon Championships last year.

 

Veterans Timothy Ritchie, Robert Curtis, Aaron Braun and Fernando Cabada are also entered. All four have seen incredible success on the roads in years past, especially on the USATF Running Circuit.

 

Rounding out the men’s field, last year’s fifth place finisher Phillip Reid is once again entered and seeking a top finish, while Fauble’s Northern Arizona Elite teammate Martin Hehir looks to make his mark on the roads once again some fine performances in 2016.

 

Similar to the men’s race, where the defending champion is in the field but not considered the favorite, Aliphine Tuliamuk is set to race Saturday and will sport the proverbial pre-race favorite badge, while Welling will seek to defend her title.

 

Tuliamuk dominated the USATF Running Circuit in 2016, winning three national titles. She continued her winning ways at the beginning of this season, running to another title at the USATF Cross Country Championships. She then followed up her performance in Bend with a fifteenth place showing at the IAAF Cross Country Championships, finishing as Team USA’s top runner.

 

While Tuliamuk struggled to a sixth place finish at the USATF 15 km Championships last month, she will undoubtedly start the race running hard and pushing the pace for the rest of the field.

 

Team USA teammates joining Tuliamuk in Columbus are Stephanie Bruce and Natosha Rogers. Bruce is having a fine 2017 season thus far, earning a trip to Uganda and then placing 22nd overall as the second best American. Bruce ran to a 31:59 10,000m effort on the track and the Stanford Invitational earlier this season, while also winning the Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon in February.

 

Meanwhile, Rogers placed a spot behind Bruce at the IAAF Cross Country Championships in 23rd, while finishing a spot ahead of Tuliamuk at the USATF 15 km Championships in fifth overall. The former Texas A&M standout recently placed seventh as the top American at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in New York, showing she’s in prime shape and ready to make her debut in the half marathon distance.

 

Sara Hall and Neely Gracey are also entered in Saturday’s event. Hall enters Columbus coming off a sixth place finish at the Tokyo Marathon in late-February. Her 2:28:26 was a personal best and assuming she bounces back well from the grind of the marathon distance, she’ll be in contention.

 

For Gracey, she enters with as much momentum as anyone else in the field. Her big half marathon win at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon earlier in the year was uncontested, but she still ran 71:02. She followed that up with a third place finish behind only Jordan Hasay and Emily Infeld at the USATF 15 km Championships, finishing well ahead of both Rogers and Tuliamuk.

 

Not to be overlooked, Welling has had a slow start to her season. She’s raced sparingly, but earlier this month did compete at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, where she took home a seventh place finish and finished as the top American. She’s clearly in shape and will want to go after a repeat victory Saturday.

 

Rounding out the field, Mara Olson, Allison Grace Morgan and last year’s seventh place finisher Semehar Tesfaye round out the lead field of contenders.

 

 

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 $84,600 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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