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Can Tegenkamp Hold On To His USARC Lead?

With three races left in the USA Racing Circuit, end-of-season excitement is starting to brew, as many of the best distance runners in the United States eye big prize purses and USARC series money. As the USA 5km Championships approach, followed quickly by the USA Marathon Championships and .US National Road Racing Championships, we ask (and answer) five of the most burning questions. Check back each day this week as we break it all down.

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Question #1: Can Matt Tegenkamp hold on to his lead in the USARC standings, despite not running the USA 5 km and USA Marathon Championships?

You might think a 17-point lead with three races left would mean Matt Tegenkamp is well on his way to winning his first USARC title, however, with double points being awarded at the USA Marathon Championships next month in Minneapolis and triple points awarded at the .US National Road Racing Championships in Alexandria, Virginia in November, the Portland-based standout's lead is far from safe. Assessing his chief competition, those athletes sitting in second through sixth in the most recent standings, at least on paper, seem to have a chance to run their way into first. Those athletes include Mo Trafeh (33 points), Shadrack Biwott (32), Abdi Abdirahman (27), Josphat Boit (26) and Ben True (21). 

The easiest way for Tegenkamp to retain the lead and ultimately win the $25,000 series grand prize is for him to go out at the innagural .US National Road Racing Championships, which is 12k in distance, and win. One must remember that Tegenkamp won't be participating at the USA 5km Championships, nor the USA Marathon Championships, as he ramps up his training and focus for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, however, he'll have over a month to rest, recover and get in a few workouts before the .US National Road Racing Championships. Depending on what happens at the USA 5 km and USA Marathon Championships, Tegenkamp may or may not be in position to simply run away with the title, but regardless, he'll certainly have a shot to win.

Early on in the season, Trafeh was considered the favorite to win the USARC title. After setting the U.S. record with his victory at the USA 25 km Championships, Trafeh came back a month later to upset Olympian Meb Keflizighi at the USA Half-Marathon Championships, taking home the win yet again. Along with a top ten finish at the USA 15 km Championships, Trafeh seemed poised to strongly challenge at least for the USA 20 km Championship title, but was absent from both the 10 km and 20 km events. Will he return for the 5k or Marathon races? That remains to be seen, but if he can come back and challenge for the marathon win and be competitive in the 12k, Trafeh has a good as shot as anyone to overtake Tegenkamp.

Coming quickly behind Trafeh are Biwott and Abdirahman. Both Biwott and Abdirahman have shown tremendous range this summer, placing third and sixth in the USA Half-Marathon Championships, third and second at the USA 10 km Championships and a mere second apart in second and third at the USA 20 km Championships. While both certainly have the range to finish top five at the USA 5 km Championships, where either or both athletes can really earn points is in Minneapolis.

At this time, Abdirahman has stated he's holding out of committing to a fall marathon, as he desperately wants to run the ING New York City Marathon, but has yet to agree on terms with the event. Biwott, who has not shown his fall racing plan cards quiet yet, could certainly jump in a marathon and challenge for top five, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, both athletes have the opportunity to be sitting in very good positions heading into the .US National Road Racing Championships and giving Tegenkamp a run for the money.

Boit, who sits 24 points out of first, might seem out of his league to try and win the USARC title. However, the former University of Arkansas runner has the ability to go in and win the USA Marathon Championships (not confirmed he'll be racing in Minnesota yet), which again is double points for the top ten finishers, while showing he can certainly challenge for a top five finish at the .US National Road Racing Championships. Boit was fifth at the USA Half-Marathon Championships, and an impressive fourth at the USA 20 km Championships, and while a 12 km race might be a bit short for him, he has the range to at least contend.

Finally, True is the real man to watch. As the USA 5 km Championship defending champion, True could very well throw himself up into second place after the 2013 USA 5 km Championships. Coming off a U.S. top ten all-time 3k performance in Europe this past weekend, True is showing his early season form, which saw him place sixth at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and run away from a strong field at the USA 15 km Championships. If he comes up big in Providence at the 5 km race later this month, it could very easily come down to a two-man race at the .US National Road Racing Championships.

Obviously there are many questions left to answer over the coming weeks, but for now Tegenkamp is holding a strong position over the rest of the field, but a lock on the USARC title is not yet certain.

Check back tomorrow as we discuss whether or not Mattie Suver, who currently leads the USARC women's standing by two points over Janet Bawcom, can maintain her lead. 

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4 comment(s)  
Scott Bush

Chris Nickinson, on , said:

I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he told me that he's had a hamstring issue. I'm not sure he's at with that now, though.


I can confirm that Mo is not going to be racing at the USA Marathon Championships. A shame for sure, but you can bet he'll be back sooner rather than later.
Chris Nickinson

Scott Bush, on , said:

I'll raise my hand and say yes to that one. I am working on getting the tentative start lists, so hopefully we'll see soon. It is strange how quiet he's been the past few USARC races.


I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he told me that he's had a hamstring issue. I'm not sure he's at with that now, though.
Scott Bush

Kevin, on , said:

Anyone think Mo shows up to Twin Cities?


I'll raise my hand and say yes to that one. I am working on getting the tentative start lists, so hopefully we'll see soon. It is strange how quiet he's been the past few USARC races.
Kevin
Anyone think Mo shows up to Twin Cities?
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