INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Six 2004 U.S. Olympians, four of whom are past USA 15 km champions, will line up this Saturday, March 10, to compete for the national titles at the 2007 USA 15 km Championships in Jacksonville, Fla. This marks the 14th year that the USA 15 km Championships has been hosted by the Gate River Run.
The field for the men's race will see a much-anticipated rematch between Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.), the defending USA 15 km champion, and Ryan Hall (Big Bear Lake, Calif.), the 2007 USA Half-Marathon champion and American record holder at that distance. Though Hall is a relative newcomer to the road scene, he has taken the road running world by storm, winning the 2006 USA 20 km Championships in his debut at the distance. He followed that with an 11th place finish at the 2006 IAAF World Road Running Championships while setting a U.S. 20 km record last October in Debrecen, Hungary, and earlier this year he won the 2007 Half Marathon Championships in Houston in an astounding U.S. record of 59:43, crushing a field that included Keflezighi..
Keflezighi and Hall will be joined in Jacksonville by 2007 USA Half-Marathon Championships runner-up Fasil Bizuneh (Flagstaff, Ariz.), and 2005 champion Ryan Shay (East Jordan, Mich.).
The women's field features 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.). A four-time USA 15 km champion, Kastor will return to Jacksonville for the first time since 2003, when she set the current American and USA championship record of 47:15. She will face-off against defending champion Blake Russell (Marina, Calif.) and 2004 Olympic Marathon teammate and 1998 USA 15 km champion Jen Rhines (Ardmore, Pa.). The trio also will see challenges for the title by 2007 USA Half-Marathon champion Elva Dryer (Gunnison, Colo.) and 2006 USA 10 km Champion Katie McGregor (Minneapolis, Minn.).
Additional contenders for the men's and women's titles will include 2004 Olympian and 2000 USA 15 km Champion Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.), 2003 USA 10-mile champ Chris Graff (Arlington, Va.), 2005 World Championships marathon team member Turena Johnson-Lane (Palmetto Bay, Fla.) and 2004 Olympian Kate O'Neill (Palo Alto, Calif.). Athletes will compete for a total prize purse of $58,000, with the men's and women's USA Champion earning $12,000 each.
This year's race will once again feature the Equalizer Bonus, awarding $5,000 to the first male or female to cross the finish line, with the top-seeded women beginning 5 minutes before the men. The 5 minute "head start" is based on the time differential of the U.S. 15 km records: 42:22 for the men (Todd Williams, 1995) and 47:15 for the women (Deena Drossin, 2003), both set on the Gate River Run course. In 2006, Keflezighi overtook Russell to win the bonus.
Additional bonuses of $10,000 will be offered for a World record (41:29 - men; 46:57 - women); $5,000 for a U.S. record (42:22 - men; 47:15 - women); and $3,000 for a course record (42:22 - men; 47:15 - women).
USA Running Circuit
The 2006 USA 15 km Championship is the second event of the 2007 edition of USA Track & Field's 2006 USA Running Circuit (USARC). The 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 thirteenth edition for the men and twelfth for the women, the 2007 USARC has nine 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 2007 USA 15 km Championships and the 2007 USARC, visit www.usatf.org.