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Athletes to Watch at the .US Champs

With the .US National Road Racing Championships, and the conclusion of the 2013 USA Running Circuit, taking place this Sunday, here’s a quick look at the top contenders in both the men’s and women’s races. With $100,000 of prize money on the line in Virgina, not to mention the overall USARC prize money, the best of the best line-up one more time this season for end of season bragging rights.


Matt Tegenkamp – Teg owns the USARC lead by a mere eight points over second place Shadrack Biwott. A first place finish clinches the win and means a massive pay day for the veteran. He’s shown exceptional road racing talent, including USA 10 km and 20 km Championship wins and two third place efforts over 25 km and 5 km. While he’s coming off a marathon debut at the Chicago Marathon in October, he’ll certainly be ready to race, vie for the win and hope his effort is enough to take home the circuit title.

Shadrack Biwott – Biwott has quietly gone about assembling one of the better racing seasons in USARC history. While he hasn’t won a race, he’s finished second at the USA 20 km Championships and third at the USA Half Marathon, USA 10 km and USA Marathon Championships. Similar to Tegenkamp, Biwott is coming off of a marathon performance, but all indications are that he’s ready to race. With only eight points separating he and USARC first placer Teg, Biwott needs to either pull off the victory or finish a few spots ahead to wrap up a win.

Abdi Abdirahman – The savvy veteran didn’t run a fall marathon and has had over two months to focus in on this race. Assuming he’s completely healthy, you simply cannot discount Abdi. The Tucson-based runner finished an impressive second to Tegenkamp at the USA 10 km Championships earlier this season and finished a strong third at the USA 20 km Championships. He’s still got it and with a few more weeks of solid training, he could easily upset the field and take home another national title.

Aaron Braun – Despite co-winning the USARC last year, Braun is still seeking his first national title. That seems strange to say after so much success the past few seasons. Braun is gearing up for this weekend’s race in similar fashion as Abdirahman. He passed on running a fall marathon, instead peaking for this race (and the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving morning). Braun finished second at the USA 5km Championships and third at the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k and seems ready to roll.

Josphat Boit – He may not have the same leg speed as some of the other top runners in the field, but Boit is only ten points out of the USARC lead. He’ll be hard pressed to overtake both Tegenkamp and Biwott, but never say never. He finished runner-up at the USA Marathon Championships in early October and earned runner-up status at the USA 25 km Championships, too. He’s a road racing pro and knows what it takes to position himself for the win.

Chris Solinsky – It’s been an up and down season for Solinsky, as he eyes finishing his season on a high note. Two weeks ago in New York, Solinsky finished a disappointing 14th at the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k. He’s obviously fit, having paced teammate Tegenkamp through the half way point at the Chicago Marathon, but he’s lacking that final gear to really blaze. The 12 km race on Sunday should fit his current fitness a bit better and you can bet he’s looking for a little redemption. 

Timothy Ritchie – The quiet man of the group, Ritchie is one of the best road racers in the United States. Every season he shows up, runs incredibly well and positions himself for a top five USARC finish. Same goes for this year. He finished fourth at the USA 5 km Championships back in late September, while finishing fourth at the USA Half Marathon Championships and sixth at the USA Marathon Championships. He’s got good leg speed, strong instincts and should challenge for top five again on Sunday.


Mattie Suver – The current leader of the USARC with 47 points, the Colorado standout has a comfortable 17 point lead over her next closest competitor, Annie Bersagel. Rival Janet Bawcom withdrew, so Suver is now in control of her own destiny. She is going toe-to-toe with plenty of talent, but if she finishes in the top five, a series win is likely. Suver has shown range, with runner-up finishes at the USA 20 km and USA 25 km Championships, a fourth place finish at the USA 10 km Championships and fifth place at the USA Half Marathon Championships.

Molly Huddle – The Providence-based Olympian is on a roll this fall, winning the USA 5 km Championship title, following that up with a recent win at the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k over an incredible field of talent. Huddle always seems to be in great race shape and should certainly still be ready to go in Alexandria. She tends to run tactical, under control, then use a furious kick to edge her competition. Can she do it again? The odds are on her side…not to mention a race win could mean a USARC overall win.

Emily Infeld -  It’s been a fun back half of the season for Infeld. She finished second twice to Huddle, both by a second (or less), finishing runner-up at the USA 5 km Championships and NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k. You can bet the young gun is ready to prove she can overtake Huddle in the 5k distance and has spent the past two weeks fine tuning her talent to have that one final gear to pull away from victory. Up four points on Huddle, a triple point victory could very well mean the USARC title is her’s too. That’d be a nice paycheck for a relatively new pro.

Shalane Flanagan – At the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k two weeks ago, Flanagan hung with Huddle and Infeld, but simply didn’t have the wheels to finish, finishing third overall and well out of the top two spots. While Flanagan isn’t 5k race sharp right now, a 12k distance is sure to be to her liking. Flanagan seems unbeatable in the U.S. at any distance 10k and up, so even if she’s racing at 80% (after taking time off after the track season), she can control the early pace and grind down her competition. Never discount an Olympic medalist!

Sara Hall – Hall just announced she’s running the Dallas Marathon on December 8, which means she’s getting tuned up for a race, but in marathon training mode. Hall is a consistent force no matter the race she’s running. She has tremendous range, including a runner-up finish at the USA 1 Mile Championships and fifth place performance at the USA 10 km Championships. If she’s on, look out, and don’t be surprised if she shocks the field, winning the race and the overall USARC title.

Kim Conley – You can never discount an Olympian, no matter what. Conley finished outside the top five at the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k two weeks back, but she’s a veteran racer who’ll put herself in position on Sunday to be very competitive over the 12k distance.

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