INDIANAPOLIS - Defending USA Half-Marathon champion Elva Dryer (Gunnison, Colo.) returns to defend her title at the 2008 USA Half-Marathon Championships this Sunday, January 13, while two-time men's champion (2001, 2005) Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.) leads the men's field. The championship will be hosted by the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon and is the first race of the 2008 USA Running Circuit (USARC).
Dryer, a two-time U.S. Olympian, will face the 2007 runner-up Kate O'Neill (Palo Alto, Calif.) in a rematch of last year's race where Dryer ran to a five-second win. This year however, the pair will see challenges for the title from 2005 USA 20 km champion Blake Russell (Monterey, Calif.), 2004 Olympic Trials Marathon champion Colleen DeReuck (Boulder, Colo.), and Desiree Davila (Rochester Hills, Mich.), who represented Team USA at the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Udine, Italy.
Returnees from last year's top ten also include Michelle Lilienthal (Minneapolis, Minn.), Ann Alyanak (Bellbrook, Ohio), Zoila Gomez (Alamosa, Colo.), and Kristin Price (Raleigh, N.C.).
Browne will face a field of more than 30 U.S. men featuring Jason Lehmkuhle (Minneapolis, Minn.) who, along with a fifth-place finish at the November 3, Olympic Trials Marathon, was fifth in the 2007 edition of this championship.
Making his first appearance at the USA Half Marathon Championships will be Ian Dobson (Palo Alto, Calif.) who has run 1:02:32 in his debut at the distance in 2006.
The field will also have notable contenders to the title such as Fernando Cabada (Boulder, Colo.) the American Record holder for 25 km, James Carney (Boulder, Colo.), second at the 2007 USA 20 km Championships, and Nate Jenkins (Lowell, Mass.) 7th at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
The championships will feature a total prize purse of $59,500 with $12,000 going to the respective men's and women's champions. The Aramco Houston Half Marathon will also offer a bonus of $4,000 for breaking the existing race records of 59:43 and 1:10:55 for men and women, respectively, plus an additional $5,000 for breaking the existing American records of 59:43 (men) and 1:06:57 (women).
Two of the top five U.S. male and female finishers will also qualify for the IAAF World Road Running Championships to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 12, 2008.
About the USARC
The 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, Elva Dryer and Ryan Hall. The fourteenth edition for the men and thirteenth for the women, the 2008 USARC has seven events for men and nine 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 ($6,000, $4,000, and $2,500) 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 2008 USA Half-Marathon Championships visit www.usatf.org.