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Team USA Heading To Birmingham For World Half Marathon Championships With Good Chance Of Having Best Ever Finishes

LetsRun.com
October 9, 2009

Heading to Birmingham to compete in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, Team USA men and women are led by Oregon-based Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Amy Yoder Begley. Ritzenhein and Begley are surrounded by excellent supporting casts and there is a chance both teams could eclipse their previous best finishes in the team standings on Sunday. The best ever finish for the women came last year when they finished 4th. The men have finished no higher than 6th as a team in the traditionally more deeply talented men's field. The team scoring format counts the top-3 finishers from each nation out of a maximum of five team entrants.

No American individual has ever medaled at the World Half Marathon Championships. Kenya by contrast have won the most medals with 56. This year a medal for a US individual is at least remotely possible as Begley was 6th in the Berlin 10,000m world championship final in 31:13 while Ritzenhein - also 6th in the Berlin 10000m - is the new American record-holder at 5000m in 12:56 and has the ability to race well at a wide range of distances. Ritzenhein's coach, Alberto Salazar, said in an interview with USA Today's Dick Patrick that "I wouldn't be surprised (If he broke an hour)," when talking about Ritzenhein's current fitness. Ritzenhein's task will be very difficult as Kenya send four entrants with personal bests under 59:10 including 22 year old road terror Sammy Kitwara. Eritrea's Zersenay Tadesse is one of the best 10000m and half-marathon runners in the history of the sport. On the women's side the field is more wide open with Mary Keitany of Kenya the prohibitive favorite given her world best time of 67:00 this year and silver medal at the 2007 World Half Marathon Championships.

Below we list the US team members with their 10000m track and road half-marathon personal bests. We found some surprising conclusions including the fact that Heidi Westerling has the best half-marathon PR of the US women at 71:35, run this year in New Bedford, MA. Elva Dryer was a close second in terms of lifetime bests with her 71:40. Three of the five men running for the US have run under 27:50 on the track (Ritzenhein, Scott Bauhs of Mammoth Training Group and James Carney who trains in Colorado) and the other two members, Andrew Carlson and Brett Gotcher of McMillan elite, are more road specialists and both have held US road titles at various distances.

Hanson's Brooks ace Desiree Davila had to pull out of the event after an injury to her ilio-tibial band. Davila finished 11th at the World Marathon Championships in Berlin less than two months ago in a giant PR 2:27.

The race will be shown live at 4:00am Eastern time Sunday morning on Universal Sports.

Men's Team And 10000m Track And Half Marathon PRs
Dathan Ritzenhein - 27:22, 61:25
Andrew Carlson - 28:25, 62:21
Scott Bauhs - 27:48, 63:04
James Carney - 27:43, 62:21
Brett Gotcher - 28:27, 62:09

Women's Team And 10000m Track And Half Marathon PRs
Amy Yoder-Begley 31:13, 73:39
Serena Burla  - 32:47, 72:22
Amy Hastings - 32:18
Elva Dryer - 31:21, 71:40
Heidi Westerling - 34:23, 71:35

 

            
  

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