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

The USA Half-Marathon Championships are moving north from Houston to Duluth beginning in 2012, USA Track & Field and Grandma's Marathon-Duluth, Inc., announced yesterday.  Those championships will be run in conjunction with the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon on June 16, 2012 and June 22, 2013, and will now be part of the Grandma's Marathon weekend.

"We are excited to have Duluth play host to our USA Half-Marathon Championships in 2012 and 2013," USATF CEO Doug Logan said in prepared remarks.  "We look forward to working with Grandma's Marathon to deliver what promises to be two great events in the city that will highlight the talents of our best runners."

The men's half-marathon championship has been held in conjunction with the Aramco Houston-Half-Marathon since 2005, and the women's championship has also been held there since 2007.  The Houston event was contested in January which made it favorable for track and road running athletes, alike.  But the June dates in Duluth will be more problematic because the championships will be held during the run-up to the Olympic Trials in track and field in 2012, and just one week before the national track and field championships in 2013.  Track athletes building up for those championships would be unlikely to step off the track and compete in a half-marathon at that time of year.

Nonetheless, Duluth played host to the women's half-marathon championships in 2003 and 2004 in the same timeframe.  In 2003 Colleen De Reuck took the title over Chris Clifton, 1:10:00 to 1:11:31, and in 2004 Deena Kastor was the winner over Susannah Beck, 1:10:30 to 1:15:03.  Interestingly, Kastor moved back on the track after that victory to win the USA Olympic Trials at 10,000m in a meet record 31:09.65 before winning her Olympic bronze medal in the marathon in Athens.

"We could not be more elated to receive the bid for these events," said Scott Keenan, executive director of Grandma's Marathon through a media release.  "Our proposal was an aggressive one, as our staff and board members believe this is an opportune time to invest the resources necessary to attract these premier running races to northeastern Minnesota."

Keenan's team included $82,000 in prize money each year, including $12,000 for the male and female winners.

Although Houston will be giving up the half-marathon championships, they will play host to the men's and women's Olympic Trials marathons in January, 2012.




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