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Talented Fields Ready to Race the Streets of Sacramento at the USATF Marathon Championships


SACRAMENTO, California – With more than $100,000 of prize money on the line, a fast race course and ideal racing conditions, nearly 200 of the nation’s best distance runners converge on Sacramento Sunday morning at the USATF Marathon Championships.


The USATF Marathon Championships, hosted by the California International Marathon, are the tenth and final stop on the 2018 USATF Running Circuit. The race will be streamed live on USATF.TV beginning at 6:50am PT / 9:50am ET and can be viewed with a USATF.TV +PLUS account.


While both the men’s race and women’s race are filled with a mix of veterans of the 26.2 mile distance and young debutants of the event, the men’s race returns a number of top contenders who have experience on the course.


Anthony Costales, who placed fourth at the USATF Marathon Championships in 2017, returns and is poised to not only challenge his 2:13:12 personal best, but also for the victory.


Costales is joined by 2017 top ten finishers Samuel Kosgei, Malcolm Richards and Nathan Martin. Kosgei, who finished fifth in 2017 in 2:13:25, is eyeing big points towards his USATF Running Circuit total. Currently sitting eighth with 26.5 points, a top three finish could propel him into the top three of the overall standings. Richards placed sixth in 2:13:28 and Martin tenth in 2:14:33 in 2017.


Of similar note, Haron Lagat and Martin Hehir, both making their marathon debuts Sunday, are seeking to take over the second position in the USATF Running Circuit overall standings. While neither will catch standings leader Leonard Korir, who has a whopping 95.5 points, Lagat and Hehir are tied for fifth with 31.5 points, 24 points behind second place Sam Chelanga.


Lagat is running exceptionally well this season, having earned a top five finish in the 3000m steeplechase at the USATF Outdoor Championships, as well as runner-up finishes at the USATF 20 km and 10 km Championships. For Hehir, the former Syracuse standout looks to be build on his third place effort at the USATF 15 km Championships.


Matt Llano, who’s currently being coached by marathon legend Ryan Hall, seeks to get back to being considered one of the best marathoners in the United States. Llano, who placed second at the USATF Marathon Championships in 2015 and was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials hasn’t had the easiest past two years, but a new training environment could lead to a top three finish in Sacramento.


Joining the list of athletes debuting Sunday, ZAP Fitness teammates Andrew Colley, who placed third at the USATF Half Marathon Championships earlier in the year, along with Joe Stalin and Matt McClintock could very well run sub-2:15 times.


Other notable entries include Nick Arciniaga, who enters with the best personal best in the field of 2:11:30 and was tenth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, as well as Daniel Tapia, who earned a fourth place finish in 2015 and holds a best of 2:12:28, tied for second best among all entries with Llano.


Dan Vassallo, who finished tenth at the Boston Marathon earlier this year, is entered, as are notable veterans Sergio Reyes, Mike Morgan and Luke Humphrey.


In the women’s race, the battle for victory will be fascinating to watch, as well as the fight to win the USATF Running Circuit.


Stephanie Bruce enters Sunday’s competition with the fastest personal best of all runners in the field. Bruce’s 2:29:35 puts her ten seconds faster than her closest competitor in Janet Bawcom. In addition, the HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite athlete has experience on the course, having finished second at the 2016 California International Marathon. Bruce is coming off an 11th place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon earlier this fall, but a win Sunday would give Bruce the overall USATF Running Circuit win.


Emma Bates is another runner fully capable of victory Sunday. With three top three finishes in the USATF Running Circuit this season, Bates is in prime form, and while this marks her debut at the marathon distance, her recent third place effort at the USATF 10 Mile Championships, where she finished only four seconds off winner Sara Hall and three seconds off runner-up Molly Huddle, should give her plenty of confidence to run at sub-2:30 pace early on and challenge up front.


For Bates, Sunday also offers a chance to win the overall USATF Running Circuit title. Bates currently sits second behind Hall, with a point differential of only eight, 67-59. A top seven finish in Sacramento would crown Bates the 2018 USATF Running Circuit champion. However, Bruce also has a chance to claim the win. If Bruce wins and Bates fails to finish outside of the top seven, Bruce will win.


Similar to Bruce, Sarah Crouch is coming off a terrific marathon performance earlier this fall. Crouch placed sixth at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2:32:37, setting a new personal best. While it remains to be seen what type of shape she’ll be in pushing for her second marathon finish in less than two months, she’s having a tremendous 2018 season, which includes a third place effort at the USATF 25 km Championships and runner-up finish at the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth.


2012 Olympian Janet Bawcom is another top competitor heading into Sunday’s race. As the top returnee, placing seventh at the 2017 USATF Marathon Championships, owning the second fastest personal best of 2:29:45 and having placed fifth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, Bawcom could very well win in Sacramento. Her quiet start to 2018, picked up with a fifth place effort at the USATF 20 km Championships, but her 13th place finish in 2:52:30 at the Hefei Marathon in China earlier this month, shows she’s looking for a much stronger performance this weekend.


Other key veterans entered in the women’s field include Esther Atkins, Maegan Krifchin and Dot McMahan. Atkins claimed victory at the 2014 USATF Marathon Championships, was 11th at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and enters with a 2:33:15 best. Krifchin placed seventh at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials while having a 2:33:14 best and McMahan ranks third fastest in the field with a 2:31:48 personal best.


Madeline Duhon is another top returnee to keep an eye on. After finishing eighth at last year’s championship, Duhon will eye a top five finish this time around. Similarly, Kimi Reed, who placed eighth at the Boston Marathon this past spring, looks to build on that momentum with another fine performance in Sacramento.


Rounding out the list of top competitors, Meghan Peyton and Sarah Cumming, who placed eighth and ninth at the 2015 USATF Marathon Championships are entered and cannot be overlooked. Similarly, USATF Running Circuit veteran Maddie Van Beek is making her marathon debut, while Pasca Myers, who placed seventh at the USATF 10 Mile Championships earlier this season, enters with a 2:33:42 best and can certainly push for a top five finish.


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.


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 $127, 000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Marathon Championships.


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Marathon Championships, scoring is set as 37.5 for first, 30 for second, 25 for third, 17.5, 15, 12.5, 10, 7.5, 5 and 2.5, 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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