By David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Some of America's top distance runners will descend on New Haven, Conn., tomorrow for the 33rd running of the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race which will host the USA 20-K championships for both men and women.  Organizers are expecting ideal racing conditions now that Hurricane Earl, which only delivered a glancing blow to the Connecticut coast last Friday, has weakened and moved out to sea.

"We're very excited about having the country's top runners compete in New Haven," said John Tolbert, who coordinates the elite fields for the race.  "We have very deep men's and women's race fields.  "With a cool day the men's and women's 20-K American records could be in jeopardy."

The key athletes chasing their share of the $40,000 prize money purse include defending women's champion, and four-time Olympian, Colleen De Reuck, 46, of Boulder, Colo.  De Reuck first won at New Haven in 1998 in a then world record of 1:05:11.  She won again in in 2002, taking the national title (she was formerly a South African citizen), and again last year at 45 years-old, setting a world W45 record of 1:07:21.

"I just tried to relax," De Reuck told Race Results Weekly after last year's victory.  "At 10-K along the water I slipped a bit to 5:30 (3:25/km pace).  I was just hanging on at the end."

De Reuck will face Olympian Magdalena Lewy Boulet, who will be using the New Haven race as a tune-up for her first appearance at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 10.  Lewy Boulet, 37, who lives in Oakland and is part of the Bay Area Track Club, finished third in New Haven last year in 1:08:11.

Other contenders for the podium on the women's side include Amy Hastings of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Tera Moody of Boulder, Colo., and Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz of Brookfield, Colo.

All eyes will be on marathoner Brett Gotcher in the men's race, the defending champion.  Gotcher, 26, of Flagstaff, Ariz., earned his first ever USA title in New Haven last year, winning in a long three-way sprint against Mo Trafeh and Jason Lehmkuhle in 58:57.  Trafeh, 25 of Duarte, Calif., will be competing again and has already won the USA 15-K title this year.  Other key contenders include Patrick Smyth, 24, of Salt Lake City, Utah; Sean Quigley, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Jason Hartmann, 29, of Portland, Ore.; and James Carney, 32, of Longmont, Colo.

The New Haven course is mostly flat, but is exposed to the winds which come off of the Long Island Sound near the half-way point.  Fast times are possible.  The course records are 57:37 by Khalid Khannouchi in 1998 and De Reuck's 1:05:11 from the same year.  The American 20-K records are 56:48 by Dathan Ritzenhein set en route to his bronze medal finish at last October's IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Birmingham, England, and 1:04:07 by Deena Kastor set en route to her victory at the Vattenfall Berlin Halbmarathon in 2006.




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