HOUSTON - Brian Sell, the 2005 USA 25 km champion, leads the U.S. contingent at this weekend's USA Men's Half Marathon Championship in Houston, Texas. The championship, hosted by the Aramco Houston Half Marathon this Sunday, also marks the start of the 2006 USA Running Circuit (USARC).
The top U.S. finisher at last summer's IAAF World Championships Marathon, Sell leads a field that includes Hansons-Brooks Distance Project and World Championship teammates, Clint Verran and Chad Johnson.
The field also includes 2005 runner-up Matt Gabrielson, along with his Team USA Minnesota teammate Jason Lehmkuhle, who was fourth in last year's championship. Chris Graff will be looking to add to his 2003 USA Ten Mile Championship, and Jason Hartmann, who along with Lehmkuhle was a member of last year's U.S. team at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Canada, looks to contend as well. For the latest list of US athletes visit, www.usatf.org.
"This is the deepest elite field that we have ever had," said Elite Athlete Coordinator David Chester. "Thanks to continued support from Aramco, we were able to accommodate over 60 elite athletes for the championship. And with three of the top-five finishers from last year and the addition of athletes like Sell, Hartmann and Graff we expect to see some very fast performances."
The Aramco Houston Half Marathon, which includes open athletes, offers a purse of $21,000 to the top ten U.S. athletes with $7,000 going to first place. The race also will be used to select two athletes for the 2006 IAAF World Road Running Championships to be held October 8 in Debrecen, Hungary.
The 2006 USA Men's Half-Marathon Championship kicks off USA Track & Field's 2006 USA Running Circuit (USARC), a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from 5 km to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners, including Olympians Deena Kastor, Meb Keflezighi, Colleen DeReuck and Dan Browne. The twelfth edition for the men and tenth for the women, the 2005 circuit has eight events for men and seven events for women.
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 a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6000, $4000, and $2500) for the top three men and women point scorers overall. The USARC points at the USA Marathon Championships will be doubled.
The mission of the USA Running Circuit is to showcase, support, and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $4 million dollars to U.S. distance runners.
For more information on the 2006 USA Men's Half Marathon Championship and the 2006 USARC visit www.usatf.org.