INDIANAPOLIS – As the second half of the USA Running Circuit season gets underway Friday at the USA 10 km Championships
in Atlanta, hosted by the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the push for the lead of the USARC standings heats up, as current leaders Christo Landry
and Mattie Suver
set the tone in the star-studded fields.
The annual Fourth of July showcase offers a prize purse of $100,000 this year. Olympians Desiree Linden
and Amy Hastings
enter as two of the pre-race favorites, along with Suver, to take home the top spot and a big pay day.
Suver, looking to extender her narrow lead of 29 points in the USARC standings despite running a half marathon two weeks ago, finished fourth in last year’s race. She’s a consistent top three threat in any race she runs, proven by her third place finishes at the USA Cross Country Championships and USA 25 km Championships this season.
“I am feeling fully recovered and ready to go heading into the USA 10 km champs,” says Suver. “I am looking forward to getting back to the road racing circuit again and am excited for a great race this weekend at Peachtree!”
Hastings enters the race coming off a third place 10,000m showing at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this past week, which come off of a sixth place effort at the New York Mini 10k a few weeks earlier. Hastings is race sharp and perfectly suited for the 10k distance.
Linden enters off of a terrific tenth place Boston Marathon performance in the spring. Despite a difficult race, where she finished twenty-second at the New York Mini 10k, Linden is poised to test her speed against the talented field in Atlanta.
Two other notable favorites are Sara Hall
and Kellyn Johnson
. Hall enters having placed second at the USA 10 Mile Championships and third at the USA 1 Mile Road Championships earlier in the season. Johnson, who won her first national title at the USA 25 km Championships in May, finished fifth in the 5,000m at the USA Outdoors Track and Field Championships. Both women are more than capable of bringing home top prize Friday and look to improve their current fourth (23 points) and fifth (22 points) USARC places.
USA Half Marathon champion Serena Burla
returns to action, along with reigning USA 20 km champion Meghan Peyton
. While neither is known as well for their speed as they are their strength, both are capable of challenging for top five.
The youngest athlete in the field, recent Duke University graduate and All-American Juliet Bottorff
, makes her professional road racing debut coming off a tremendous fourth place effort at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000m. Bottorff continues to prove she’s a rising star in the sport and Friday she’ll have another chance to compete against many of the best pros in the United States.
Other notable contenders include Rachel Ward
, Linden’s teammate Katie Kellner
and Kara Foster
, who finished fifth, eighth and tenth place over 10,000m at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Savvy veteran Lauren Fleshman
and young pro Caitlin Comfort
also could surprise with top five showings.
On the men’s side, Landry seeks to continue his winning ways. After winning the USA 10 Mile Championship title earlier in the season, the Ann Arbor-based runner won the USA 25 km Championships and tied the American record. On the roads once again, Landry is ready to challenge for title number three on the season.
“Since I tied the 25k American Record at the (Fifth-Third) River Bank Run,” says Landry. “I've taken a two week down period leading into my fall marathon campaign and have returned to workouts in the past few weeks.”
Olympians Ryan Hall
and Abdi Abdirahman
may not have the seasonal success of Landry just yet, but both know how to turn it on when they race. For Hall, it’s a chance to test his speed over a shorter distance. As for Abdirahman, he’s looking for a good race after struggling with injury off and on much of the past year.
Another notable challenge should come from Aaron Braun
, who recently finished fifth in the 10,000m at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Braun won the inaugural .US National Road Racing Championship in 2013, while finishing a strong second at the USA Half Marathon Championships at the start of the 2014 racing season. He’s race sharp and is experienced on the roads, meaning he can’t be discounted.
USARC veterans Shadrack Biwott
and Josphat Boit
are both fully capable of big finishes. Biwott, who placed third in Atlanta in 2013, enters off of a runner-up finish at the USA 25 km Championships in May. Boit placed third earlier in the season at the USA Half Marathon Championships and looks to improve his tenth place showing a year ago.
Not to be overlooked, some of the best young talent in American distance running is ready to challenge. Tyler Pennel,
who place seventh in 2013, is running at a whole new level this season, while Northern Arizona Elite’s Matt Llano
seeks his first top three finish of the season after finishing fifth at both the USA Cross Country Championships and USA 15 km Championships.
Additional top ten contenders include 2013 seventh place finisher Brenden Gregg
, USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships sixth place 10,000m finisher Bobby Curtis
, USA 25 km Championship fourth place finisher Tyler McCandless
, USA 10 Mile Championship runner-up Girma Mecheso
, marathon ace Craig Leon, Elliot Krause
and former NCAA cross country champion Josh McDougal
As for the USARC standings, Landry holds a ten point lead (37 points total) over Chris Derrick
at the moment and the closest individual in the field is fourth place Biwott, who’s 20 points away. No matter the outcome Friday, Landry retains his lead, but other notable standouts may earn big points and move into the top five.
“I am excited to return to Peachtree and race against the perennial strong field for another USA Championship,” exclaims Landry.
Live text updates of the USA 10 km Championships will be available at www.USARunningCircuit.com
beginning at 7:15 am ET. Video of the race, 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.
About the USARC
The USARC is a USA Track & Field
road series featuring USA 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 $100,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USA 10 km Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.
The mission of the USARC is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.
Contributed by Scott Bush