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Chelanga, Tuliamuk take on challengers at USATF 7 Mile Championships

Date: 
07/27/2017 - 13:26

tulia.jpgDAVENPORT, Iowa – USATF Running Circuit women’s standings leader Aliphine Tuliamuk seeks her fourth USATF title of the season, while Sam Chelanga seeks his first title of the season after finishing in the top three in three separate USATF Running Circuit races on Saturday at the USATF 7 Mile Championships in Davenport, Iowa.

The USATF 7 Mile Championships, hosted by the Quad-City Times Bix 7, are the seventh 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.

For Tuliamuk, Saturday’s race is another chance to extend her lead atop of the USATF Running Circuit standings, where she currently holds a 75-54 lead over second place Neely Gracey. After winning the USATF Cross Country title early on in the season, Tuliamuk has won the previous two USATF Running Circuit races, taking top prize at the USATF 25 km and 10 Mile Championships.

Tuliamuk has plenty of competition to fend off in Davenport, including fellow road race veteran Sara Hall. Hall enters coming off a fine victory at the Gold Coast ASICS Half Marathon early on in the month, running the second fastest time of her career with a 1:10:32 effort, which currently ranks her as the fourth fastest American in 2017. With a previous runner-up finish at the USATF 7 Mile Championships, she’ll lean on her course expertise to challenge for the win.

{Marielle Hall is another top runner to watch. The former University of Texas standout is having a strong season, placing fifth over 5000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, while earning a fifth place finish at the USATF 10 km Championships back on the July 4. While still relatively inexperienced on the roads, Hall clearly is in shape to run well.

Fellow USATF Running Circuit veterans Tara Welling and Lindsey Scherf are entered and look to push for top three finishes. Welling is coming off a third place showing at the USATF 25 km Championships back in mid-May, while Scherf placed fifth at the USATF 7 Mile Championships the last time they were held in 2014.

Young talent is ready to prove themselves on the roads as well, with former Stanford standout Jessica Tonn coming off a fourth place finish at the USATF 10 km Championships earlier in the month. She’s joined by Chelsea Blaase and Joanna Thompson, both of whom competed at the USATF Outdoor Championships in the 10,000m.

Add in Obsie Birru, who finished fifth at the USATF 25 km Championships, and crowd favorite Becky Wade, and the women’s field should have a number of runners vying for top five finishes on Saturday.

On the men’s side, Chelanga seeks his first USATF title of the season, as well as closing the gap on currently USATF Running Circuit leader Leonard Korir. Chelanga finished second at the USATF Half Marathon Championships earlier in the season, while having third place finishes at the 5 km and 10 km championship events, but sits well behind Korir 75-50 in the overall standings. A win on Saturday would put him only ten points behind Korir and back in contention for the overall standings title.

While Chelanga is the heavy favorite, the field holds plenty of challengers. Leading the initial charge are young pros Reid Buchanan and Matt McClintock. The duo are coming off strong showings at the USATF Outdoor Championships, as Buchanan placed eighth in the 5,000m, while McClintock took home a 10th place finish in the 10,000m. Both are inexperienced on the roads, but have the speed to mix it up up front.

USATF Running Circuit regulars Jonathan Grey and Kirubel Erassa are also entered. Erassa earned a sixth place showing at the USATF 15 km Championships early on in the season, while Grey is having a good year on the roads, owning three top eight finishes to his name this season on the USATF Running Circuit.

The wild cards in the field are Luke Puskedra and Scott Fauble. Puskedra, who placed fourth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016, has been relatively quiet this season, racing seldom. If he’s healthy, he’ll challenge for a top five finish.

For Fauble, he’s focused a bit more on the roads this season after placing fourth in the 10,000m at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials last summer. A 12th place finish at the BolderBOULDER, one minute behind Chelanga, who placed third, shows there’s room for improvement, but it remains to be seen if two months was enough time to make that jump in fitness. Similar to Puskedra, if Fauble is healthy and training well, a top five finish is very realistic.

Rounding out the field, U.S. Army teammates Haron Lagat and Emmanuel Bor are ready to contend. Lagat earned a fifth place finish in the 3000m steeplechase at the USATF Outdoor Championships last month, while Bor finished 10th in the 5,000m. Both add depth and top-level talent to the men’s field, adding that much more intrigue to Saturday’s contest.

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 $50,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF 7 Mile Championships.

The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF 7 Mile Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, 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

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