Camel City Elite Preview: Leo Manzano, Will Leer & Shannon Rowbury Headline

Manzano and Leer will take on Riley MastersMatt Elliott and Cory Leslie in the men’s mile while Rowbury faces Stephanie GarciaHeather Kampf and Morgan Uceny in the women’s mile. 2013 Team USA member Brandon Johnson features in the men’s 800 against Harun Abda and Ryan Martin.

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By LetsRun.com
January 30, 2015

We already previewed one of this weekend’s big indoor meets — the Armory Track Invitational in New York. Now it’s time to tackle the other meet featuring major U.S. pros such as Shannon RowburyLeo Manzano and Will Leer — Saturday’s Camel City Elite races at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Earlier this week, we caught up with Manzano and 800 man Brandon Johnson, both of whom will be competing here on Saturday. So if you missed either of those conversations, be sure to check them out. Manzano and Johnson reflected on their 2014 seasons and offered insight on their recent training. Below, we run through a few story lines ahead of Saturday’s races.

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What: Camel City Elite races

Where: JDL Fast Track, Winston-Salem, N.C.

When: 2 p.m. ET

How to watch: Live stream here (requires RunnerSpace+ membership)

*Schedule *Elite fields

Will Leer Wins 2014 Wanamaker Mile

Leer enjoyed a great 2014 indoor season, including a win in the Wanamaker Mile

The men’s mile is wide-open

There are six distance events in the meet (men’s and women’s 800, mile and 3,000) but the miles are where the best action will be (Well there is a also is a great 60mh with David Oliver and Jason Richardson but will leave that for our soon to be launched sister site – letssprint.com). That’s only logical as the prize money for the mile races ($7,500 total each race, with $4,000 to the winner) dwarfs that of the 800/3,000 ($2,500 total each race, with $2,000 to the winner).

In the men’s race, Manzano is obviously the best guy at his peak, but he told us he hasn’t been on the track much recently. Manzano can never be counted out, but it might be safer to bet on Leer, who was in great shape last year indoors (3:52.47 to win the Wanamaker Mile; second at USA indoors). Then there’s Cory Leslie, who set the facility record here in 2013 at 3:57.81 to win the inaugural edition of the meet. He ran a 1:47.63 800 last weekend, a tremendous indoor time that’s actually faster than his outdoor best. He enters the meet in the best form, and his PB (3:53.44) is also very good. Manzano and Leer can’t afford to ease into their 2015 seasons (this will be an indoor opener for each of them); if they’re not in good shape, Leslie could take this handily. Riley Masters and Matt Elliott round out the pro field and there are also six collegians entered.

Rowbury is the clear favorite in the women’s mile

The women’s race appears to be more simple. Rowbury is clearly the top woman in this field and she showed she’s in shape with a comfortable 2:40/4:27 1K/mile double in Seattle two weeks ago, winning both races. A facility record is worth an extra $1,000 and that shouldn’t be a problem for Rowbury considering the time to beat is just 4:35.07. It should be a competitive race for second with Stephanie Garcia (indoor PB of 4:35.24 last week), Heather Kampf (4:30.14 PB) and Morgan Uceny (4:30.57 indoor PB), but Rowbury is simply on a different level than the rest of the field.

Where is Brandon Johnson’s fitness at?

One of the reasons we chose to speak to Brandon Johnson this week was to see where he’s at right now after a miserable 2014 season. Mentally, it’s clear he’s doing great with new coach Joaquim Cruz, but now he gets his first physical test. Johnson, at 1:43.84, has by far the best PB in the field, but he won’t be in that kind of shape on Saturday. The California-based Johnson rarely runs indoor races, and this race’s biggest purpose for him is a fitness check. The time isn’t terribly important (Nick Symmonds only ran 1:48.64 to win this race last year), but competing for the win will be.

He’ll have some competition in this one as Harun Abda (1:45.55 outdoors last year, U.S. #4) and Ryan Martin (1:45.65, U.S. #5) are among the top 800 runners in the U.S.. Abda might be the bigger threat solely because of indoor experience (we believe this is Martin’s first-ever indoor 800), though if you go by that metric, Tyler Mulder is actually the biggest threat as he was top four at the past two U.S. indoor champs and won indoor NCAAs at Northern Iowa in 2008.

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