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Can Mattie Suver Hold Her Lead in the USARC Standings?

With three races left in the USA Running 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 #2: Can Mattie Suver Hold Her Lead in the USARC Standings?

At the USA 20 km Championships last week, Colorado-based Mattie Suver overtook 2012 USARC overall winner Janet Bawcom at the top of the USARC women's standing, gaining a two point lead (47-45) heading into the final three races of the season. While Suver owns the slight edge as the racing season windes down, the real question now is can she maintain that lead?

Before looking into the key question, lets recap the current top seven athletes in the USARC standings. Suver (47 points), Bawcom (45), Stephanie Bruce (29), Brianne Nelson (28), Sara Hall (21), Adriana Nelson (20) and Meghan Peyton (17), at least on paper, all have a shot to win. Even better, there is still room for an athlete not in that top seven to surprise at the USA 5 km Championship, or score double points at the USA Marathon Championships and then run well (where triple points are awarded) at the .US National Road Racing Championships. 

Getting back to the question at hand, Suver is going to be hard pressed to beat out Bawcom for the top spot. Lets break it down:

- Both Suver and Bawcom are running the ING New York City Marathon on Novemer 3. While start lists have yet to be released for the USA 5 km Championships, it's safe to assume both Suver and Bawcom will pass on both the 5 km and marathon championship races, as they focus on their fall marathon opportunity. This means Suver won't put any additional space between herself and Bawcom before the final race of the season.

- While Suver finished second in two races this season, Bawcom won three, including a dominating USA 10 Mile Championship performance, where she set the single sex American women's 10 mile record. The Olympian Bawcom dominates time and again whenever she does decide to race, so seeing Suver beat Bawcom head-to-head at the .US National Road Racing Championships, while certainly not impossible, seems like a very large challenge.

- Now, where Suver could maintain her lead and ultimately win the USARC title comes from how well she and Bawcom recover from the ING New York City Marathon. Running a marathon is taxing enough on the body, but to come back two weeks later, even if it's a 12 km race, how the body responds is still a giant question mark. Staying in control of ones pace is the name of the game for both athletes, assuming they run in Alexandria, Virginia on November 17.

We know Suver's challenge heading towards the final race of the USARC, but what about the other athletes? Sara Hall is an interesting athlete to watch, too. While she won't be running the USA Marathon Championships, she certainly has the ability to win both the USA 5 km Championships and .US National Road Racing Championships. With only 21 points, she's well back, but the triple point gains from the final race of the season could propel her to the top of the standings. Hall is considered more of a mile/steeple athlete, but she's shown range throughout her career.

Adriana Nelson, who won the USA Half-Marathon Championships, would be a contender with her 20 points, but she won't compete at the USA 5 km Championships or USA Marathon Championships, as she's running the ING New York City Marathon, and she hasn't shown the speed yet this season to truly challenge over a 12 km distance. 

Then there is Meghan Peyton. The Minnesota-based runner came up huge at the USA 20 km Championships earlier this month and has both the strength and speed to do well at the USA 5 km Championships and USA Marathon Championships (if she runs either). She showed she's rounding into perhaps the best shape of her career, which could bode very well at the .US National Road Racing Championships.

So, while Suver and Bawcom are considered the favorites to come away with the USARC title, there are other athletes capable of breaking through in either the USA 5 km Championships or USA Marathon Championships, changing things up and putting pressure on both Suver and Bawcom heading into the final event of the season. Doubling back from a marathon two weeks prior is both an extreme challenge and risk, which means the door is wide open for anything to happen over the final two months of the USARC season.

Question #1: Can Matt Tegenkamp Hold On To His USARC Lead?

Check back Wednesday for the third question, as we debate the .US National Road Racing Championships and who has the best odds of taking home major points.

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The former Mattie Bridgmon (ORegon and Eastern Washington) transferred to Oregon for her sophomore season for '08-'09 and blossomed. Improved from 4:32/16:33/36:58 at East Wash. Ran 4:17/9:17/16:09/33:37 her first year at Oregon. She qualified for NC indoor in 3k and 5k and finished 7th at NCAA outdoor in the heat and humidity of Arkansas. Her senior year she was an all-American in cross (40th) and was runner-up at Pac-10 in 10k where she ran a near pr 33:38. Also 6th in 5k. Too bad she didn't have four years at Oregon. Nice to see slow development in 10k so she didn't burn out. No surprise about her success, she has a very good build for distance. Good biomechanincs. Good Luck Mattie!
Chris Nickinson
Peyton is the one to watch. She's running the 5k as her final tune up for the marathon champs and she'll have much more prep time for the 12k should she choose to run it. Assuming she can pick up a couple of points at the 5 (that's about all we should expect) and she put together something similar to the 20k at the marathon she will be in the driver's seat for the 12k. The marathon will be double points so a top 3 finish will be a big boost.

Two wildcards - Sara Hall and Delilah. Sara's in Kenya right now but should she run the 12k I would not count her out. The same with Delilah. She might not run the 5k but if she does and scores well, the triple points at the 12k will be enticing. She's become much more comfortable with the longer distances since the summer.
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