by USATF Communications
December 2, 2018
SACRAMENTO, California – Emma Bates ran away from her competition early Sunday morning in Sacramento, while Brogan Austin surprised the field with a furious finish, as the duo won the women’s and men’s title at the USATF Marathon Championships.
The 2018 USATF Marathon Championships, hosted by the California International Marathon, are the tenth and final stop of the USATF Running Circuit season. Results and post-race interviews are available on USATF.TV, while on-demand race videos can be viewed on USATF.TV with a USATF.TV +PLUS account.
From the early miles Sunday, Bates set her pace and every other runner in the field decided to let the former NCAA champion go ahead.
Behind Bates, it was a four woman battle much of the way. Veteran Stephanie Bruce, Samantha Roecker, Sarah Crouch and Maegan Krifchin teamed up from the gun, keeping Bates somewhat in sight while pushing the early miles.
Through the first 10 km, Bates established a 20 second lead, well ahead of the pack, while Bruce, Crouch, Krifchin and Lauren Masterson all ran together, 30 seconds up on the second chase pack.
By 20 km, Bates had over a minute lead, while Krifchin, Bruce and Crouch dropped Masterson and Roecker and Hilary Dionne were working together to catch the trio, 15 seconds back.
As the 25 km mark approached, Bates led by a minute and a half, with Roecker pushing the pace to catch Crouch and Bruce, while Krifchin dropping off. The race was on during the most difficult stretch of the race.
Bates continue to rattle off even splits, with a smooth stride and a relaxed posture, she cruised down the streets of Sacramento, making a statement in her marathon debut that she will be a serious contender for years to come in the event and proving that her move back to Boise from earlier in the year was the right one for her.
Bates strode into the finish stretch, arms raised, crossing the finish line in an impressive 2:28:18, making her the seventh fastest American ever to debut over the distance, five seconds behind Molly Huddle’s 2:28:13 debut from 2016.
Behind Bates, Roecker would continue to drive the pace after catching the lead chase pack, extending her lead to 10 seconds, but Bruce wasn’t about to concede second place just yet. Using her course expertise, Bruce was able to catch Roecker and pass her, building a ten second lead from 30 km to 35 km and earning a position she would never lose the rest of the way.
As Bruce crossed the line in second she flashed a bright smile. Not only did she claim second on the day, but her mark was a 15 second best, a performance she was able to achieve a mere 28 days after she finished 11th at the TCS New York City Marathon.
With her victory, Bates passed Sara Hall for the lead of the USATF Running Circuit overall standings. Adding a whopping 37.5 points to her point total, Bates easily claimed the overall circuit title with 96.5 points, while Bruce’s effort added another 30 points to her total, giving her 60 points, moving her into third place overall.
Roecker would hang on to place third with a great time of 2:30:23, while Michele Lee nearly caught Roecker over the final mile to finish fourth in 2:30:29. Atlanta Track Club’s Bridget Lyons claimed fifth in 2:30:59.
Rounding out the top ten, USATF Running Circuit veteran Bethany Sachtleben finished sixth in 2:31:19, while the early pace challenge Krifchin over the final 15 km of the race, still finishing seventh in 2:32:47.
Dionne and Masterson would maintain form from their early moves to take home eighth and ninth place finishes in 2:33:01 and 2:33:25, while Anna Long nearly broke the 2:34 barrier herself with a 2:34:07 time.
Similar to Bates, Matt Llano would push the pace early on the men’s side, building a tremendous lead that looked at one point to be insurmountable. In the first 20 km, Llano built up a nearly one minute lead over the field, while looking strong and in control. Veteran Sergio Reyes and Wilkerson Given would give chase, putting themselves up 30 seconds on the large chase pack, which consisted of 20 men.
Over the next 5 km, Llano’s lead would continue to grow. Given and Reyes maintained their 2-3 positions, while the chase pack started to shake out a bit but still held more than 10 men in the pack.
By 35 km, Llano had a minute lead over Reyes, who dropped Given and the chase pack of ten men followed a minute behind him. With such little real estate left in the race, it seemed as though Llano was going to run away to a big win with a great time.
But then things started to shift. Llano started to slow and the large chase pack started to drive to the finish. Austin shot to the front of the group and hammered his way up to Reyes. Once he caught Reyes, his sight was set on Llano, a surprise to those watching along the streets of Sacramento and at home on USATF.TV.
With only a half mile to go, Austin continued to charge. Stride by stride Llano would lose his lead and Brogan could sense time was running out, one last push had to be made.
Shifting into one final gear, Austin passed Llano, and frantically ran through the line, crossing the finish victoriously in one of the finest finishes of the year for an American distance runner. The former Drake University runner finished in 2:12:38, while Llano had to settle for second in 2:12:59, having made the race and taken a calculated risk early that nearly paid off.
The chase pack continued to roll behind Austin and Llano, as a large group of runners worked together much of the way. ZAP Fitness Reebok teammates Josh Izewski and Joseph Stilin placed third and fourth in fantastic times of 2:13:14 and 2:13:19, putting a gap on fifth place Brendan Gregg of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project over the final mile. Gregg would finish fifth in 2:13:26.
Brian Shrader took home sixth in 2:13:38, while 2017 fourth place finisher Anthony Costales earned another top ten performance in seventh with a mark of 2:13:28. Mick Iacofano finished eighth in 2:13:46, while Martin Hehir and Jarrett LeBlanc placed ninth and tenth, each crossing the finish in 2:13:49.
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 $127, 000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Marathon Championships.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Marathon Championships, scoring is set as 37.5 for first, 30 for second, 25 for third, 17.5, 15, 12.5, 10, 7.5, 5 and 2.5, 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
Women’s Top 10
1. Emma Bates 2:28:18
2. Stephanie Bruce 2:29:20
3. Samantha Roecker 2:30:23
4. Michele Lee 2:30:29
5. Bridget Lyons 2:30:59
6. Bethany Sachtleben 2:31:19
7. Maegan Krifchin 2:32:47
8. Hilary Dionne 2:33:01
9. Lauren Masterson 2:33:25
10. Anna Long 2:34:07
Men’s Top 10
1. Brogan Austin 2:12:38
2. Matt Llano 2:12:59
3. Josh Izewski 2:13:14
4. Joe Stillin 2:13:19
5. Bredan Gregg 2:13:26
6. Brian Shrader 2:13:38
7. Anthony Costales 2:13:28
8. Mick Iacofano 2:13:46
9. Martin Hehir 2:13:49
10. Jarrett LeBlanc 2:13:49