Coaching Athletics Quarterly
Thursday, 31 August 2017 20:42

Defending champions Korir, Tuliamuk eye repeat at USATF 20 km Championships

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INDIANAPOLIS – Olympian Leonard Korir and standout Aliphine Tuliamuk seek to repeat their victories from a year ago at the USATF 20 km Championships Monday. While the defending champions enter as the pre-race favorites, strong fields bring plenty of challengers for each to tussle with on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut.

The USATF 20 km Championships, hosted by the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race, are the eighth stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit. Race videos, 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.

In 2016, Korir and Sam Chelanga battled all the way to the finish, with Korir coming out slightly ahead, finishing a mere second ahead of his rival. The two square off again in New Haven. Korir heads into competition coming off a 13th place finish at the IAAF World Championships in the 10,000m, while seeking his fifth USATF Running Circuit victory of the season.

Meanwhile, Chelanga seeks to improve upon his runner-up finishes at the USATF 20 km Championships, finishing second not just in 2016, but also 2015. Chelanga finished second to Korir at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, but hopes to build on the momentum he brings in from his USATF 7 Mile Championship victory in July.

Their chief competition in New Haven should come from Olympic medalist Galen Rupp. While Rupp has raced sparingly in 2016, his inspired runner-up finish at the Boston Marathon once again showed he’s ready to take on all comers on the roads. While he had a shortened track season, which admittedly was a struggle at times, Rupp is back to full training and readying to race the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.

{UNIVERSAL}Other top three challengers are USATF Running Circuit regulars Christo Landry and Tim Ritchie. Both have experience on the New Haven course, as Landry finished third at the 2016 USATF 20 km Championships, while Ritchie was fifth in 2016.

Landry finished second at the USATF 25 km Championships earlier in the season, finishing behind multi-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. Ritchie placed fourth in the same race and owns two top five finishes on the USATF Running Circuit season.

Adding to the depth of the field, USATF Running Circuit veterans Craig Curley and Ahmed Osman look to challenge for top five finishes, while a host of New England-based runners seek to earn top ten finishes.

For Korir and Chelanga, who finishes ahead of the other matters even more as the end of the USATF Running Circuit season nears. Korir currently holds a 75-65 lead over Chelanga atop of the standings. Landry currently sits fourth with 33 points and a strong finish could move him into the top three ahead of current third place Shadrack Kipchirchir.

In the women’s race, Tuliamuk finds plenty of competition from a variety of entries, including reigning USATF Half Marathon champion Natosha Rogers and reigning USATF 15 km champion Jordan Hasay. Tuliamuk will look to hold off all comers understanding the course from past experience while eyeing her fifth title of the USATF Running Circuit season.

Both Hasay and Rogers enter Monday’s race seeking their second national title of the season. Hasay placed third at the USATF 10 km Championships earlier in the season and eyes success in a longer road race once again. For Rogers, her impressive finish at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, where she beat Tuliamuk, should give the former Texas A&M star a new level of confidence to race with.

Emily Sisson is another key entry who cannot be overlooked. Sisson was second behind Tuliamuk in New Haven in 2016 and while she’s raced sparingly this season, did become the fifth fastest half marathon runner in U.S. history with her 68:21 finish in New York City in March.

 Jessica Tonn, who earned a top five finish at the USATF 10 km Championships, Stephanie Bruce, who finished sixth at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, and USATF Running Circuit regular Sara Hall are three others to watch. Hall took home a third place finish at the USATF 7 Mile Championships in July, finishing only behind Tuliamuk and Olympian Marielle Hall.

Other notable entries include 2016 fourth place finisher Lindsey Scherf, USATF 25 km fourth place finisher Katie Matthews, USATF 7 Mile fourth place finisher Becky Wade and veteran Janet Bawcom, who returns to action in New Haven after a runner-up finish in 2015.

A win by Tuliamuk would strengthen her lead to almost uncatchable proportions in the USATF Running Circuit standings. Currently holding a 90-54 lead over second place Neely Gracey, who is not competing in New Haven, a win would double up her lead over Gracey with only three events to go. Sitting in a third place tie, Hasay and Rogers each own 32.5 points on the season, making Monday’s race all the more intriguing.

About the USATF Running Circuit

The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF 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 $32,200 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 20 km Championships.

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 20 km Championships, scoring is set as 22.5 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 10.5, 9, 7.5, 6, 4.5, 3.5 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.

Contributed by Scott Bush

Read 1047 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 August 2017 21:06