The USATF Marathon Championships are the third stop on the 2015 USATF Running Circuit, which concludes with the .US National 12K in historic Alexandria, Virginia. The top 15 finishers at each race on the circuit qualify to compete in the .US National 12K.
For Hall, Sunday’s race offers a chance to climb back atop of the U.S. marathon scene. After struggling to a 20th place finish at the Boston Marathon last spring, Hall sat out the fall marathon season, shifting attention to 2015 and racing in Los Angeles. While it remains to be seen if he can capture the success he showed as the top American marathoners for years, his runner-up finish at the Tempe Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon earlier this year is a good indication he’s fit and ready to race.
A few young marathoners, including Jared Wardand Matthew Llano, look to challenge Hall up top for the win. Ward comes off a runner-up effort at the USATF Marathon Championships this past fall, where he ran 2:14:00, as well as a runner-up finish at the USATF Half Marathon Championships this past January. Similarly for Llano, he comes off a fine fifth place finish at the USATF Half Marathon Championships and looks to improve upon his 2:17:43 performance at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this past fall.
Llano’s teammate, Scott Smith, has high hopes to improve upon his third place performance this past fall at the USATF Marathon Championships. Smith debuted over the 26.2 mile distance in 2:14:40.
A trio of marathon veterans should push for top three finishes, as well. Mike Morgan, Patrick Rizzoand Sergio Reyeseach have a wealth of experience on their road racing resumes. Morgan ran two sub-2:15 efforts last year in Boston and Chicago, while both Rizzo and Reyes own four sub-2:16 performances to their names. A composed first half to Sunday’s race could open the door for any of these three to pull off a surprise finish.
Other notable runners in the field include trail and ultra running stars Max Kingand Sage Canaday, along with sub-2:16 marathoner Craig Curley, Scott Bauhs, 2013 Boston Marathon top ten finisher Daniel Tapia, Morgan’s Hansons-Brooks teammate Luke Humphrey, Juan Carlos Trujilo, Stephan Shayand Joe Moore.
While Hall headlines the men’s race, Cherobon-Bawcom is set to run her first marathon since the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. For the past handful of years, Cherobon-Bawcom has dominated the USATF Running Circuit when healthy and she enters Sunday’s race coming off a third place performance at the USATF Half Marathon Championships in January. She’s run sub-72:00 nine times over the half marathon distance and owns a 2:29:45 marathon best from 2012.
Despite her road racing success, Cherobon-Bawcom is no lock, as she’ll face stiff competition from Sara Hall, Brianne Nelson, Heather Liebergand a host of other talented marathon standouts.
Hall enters the USATF Marathon Championships coming off a fourth place finish at the USATF Half Marathon Championships. She makes her debut over the marathon distance, adding to her diversity over the roads of racing every distance from a mile to the marathon.
For Nelson, a runner-up effort at the USATF Half Marathon Championships in January and a third place effort at the USATF Marathon Championships this past fall give her plenty of momentum. Nelson had a bit of a hiccup at the USATF Cross Country Championships last month where she finished twelfth, but she’s showing strength this season and seems poised to challenge for the win Sunday.
One athlete of note, not to be overlooked, is Heather Lieberg. The elementary school teacher continues to make strides and finds herself in prime position to take home her first national title. Lieberg finished third earlier this season at the Gasparilla Half Marathon in a tune-up for this weekend’s race and looks to take a step forward after her runner-up 2:34:09 effort at the USATF Marathon Championships in 2014.
Young pros Lauren Jimisonand Becky Wadeare two others to watch. Jimison, who trains with Deena Kastor and the Mammoth Track Club, finished ninth at the USATF Half Marathon Championships in her build-up to Sunday’s race. The 24 year old ran to a 2:34:38 finish at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this past fall. For Wade, she looks to find the magic she found at the California International Marathon in 2013, when she won in 2:30:41. She recently finished eleventh at the USATF Half Marathon Championships and is ready to test herself in Los Angeles.
On the flip side, experienced veterans Melissa Johnson-Whiteand Olympian Blake Russelllook to challenge for top five finishes, as well. Russell, who owns a 2:29:10 best from 2005 ran 72:03 for the half marathon last summer and looks to prove herself over the marathon distance once again. Johnson-White had another fine performance in Chicago this past fall with a 2:34:19 effort.
The top finisher at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2014 was Sarah Crouch. The ZAP Fitness runner finished seventh in Chicago with an impressive mark of 2:32:44. She continues to show signs of challenging the 2:30 barrier and could surprise the field this weekend.
Sub-2:35 marathon Sarah Cummings, top ten 2014 finisher Meghan Peytonand Kathleen DiCamilloround out the top list of contenders, as the USATF Marathon Championships women’s field could very well produce some surprising top five finishes.
The USATF Marathon Championships will be broadcast live beginning at 6:45 am PT atUSATF.tv. Race video, 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 USATF Running Circuit
The USATF Running Circuit is a USA Track & Field 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 $150,000 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 30 for first, 24 for second, 20 for third, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2, 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.