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November 30, 2017

USATF Marathon Championships: The Men’s Preview

Greetings, Scott Olberding here, and the time has come to do the dang thing. Tapers have been deployed and athletes are scrambling to find enough water bottles for each fuel table along the course.

That’s right — it’s marathon time, baby.

Ahead of the USATF Men’s Marathon Championships, here are some names to keep in mind:

Nick Arciniaga (2:11:30): A notorious Star Wars fan, Mr. Arciniaga comes into the race with the fastest personal best, which he ran at Houston in 2011. Later that year, Nick represented the U.S. in the World Championships. A long-time resident of Flagstaff, Ariz. (before it was cool), Mr. Arciniaga now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. His Wikipedia page lists him at 5 feet, 11 inches tall. Look for Nick to utilize his experience to thwart the hopes and dreams of his fellow competitors.

Fernando Cabada (2:11:36): One specific memory that I have of Fernando is him absolutely decimating the field at the 2014 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. He ran 62:00 that day. Also, a fun fact — Fernando has run six marathons under 2:16 and finished 14 in total. It’s safe to say that he is well-acquainted with the distance.

Danny Tapia (2:12:28): If you are looking to project a winner based on a triangulation of recent races, then Mr. Tapia is your man. With a 2:12:28 from last year’s CIM and a recent win and PR at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon, Danny seems to have a hot hand recently, on top of already qualifying for a World Championships marathon team. He now trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., which I’m led to believe by multiple sources is at a high elevation. Certain people think that this may be an advantage.

Craig Leon (2:13:52): Leon brings a resume of strong performances at U.S. major marathons. He finished 13th at the 2013 Chicago Marathon (2:13:52), 12th at the 2014 Boston Marathon (2:14:28) and eighth at the 2015 New York City Marathon (2:15:16). By my count, he has run 17 marathons. Craig now trains in Eugene, Ore. with Team Run Eugene.  

Tim Young (2:14:40): Tim may be considered by some as a fringe contender, but with a personal best south of 2:15, I suspect he can hang with the lead crew for the majority of the race. And with high school PR’s of just 4:25/9:50/16:30, it’s hard not to want the underdog to stick his neck in it.

Tim Ritchie (2:14:50): Ritchie enters CIM with a personal best from the 2013 Twin Cities Marathon, which was won by…Nick Arciniaga. He won the 2015 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with a scintillating 1:01:23, which is likely his most recognizable result. Based on what I gather, Ritchie is a New England legend and certified Junkyard Dog after racing and graduating from Boston College and now training for the Saucony Freedom Track Club under the tutelage of Tim Broe.

George-Byron Alex (62:54 half marathon): Kicking off some possible contenders who are making their marathon debut, we start with George-Byron Alex. Aside from having two first names, which is objectively cool, he brings an impressive track pedigree: 13:29 in the 5,000 meters and 28:28 in the 10,000 meters. Mr. Alex also ran well at the Houston Half, breaking 63 minutes. He also won the Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon this year, so look for G.B.A. to get out there and assert himself against some of the more experienced dudes.

Parker Stinson (63:17 half marathon): Parker, at 25 years of age, is the youngest athlete featured herein. He comes from the University of Oregon where he had a decorated track and field career. He broke 28 minutes in the 10,000 meters in 2015, a top-10 time in the U.S. that year, and minted his 63:17 half marathon best just this past spring. Stinson has been training in Boulder, Colo. with Hudson Elite, and I suspect that this young fella will be looking to go for the “W” in his debut at the distance.

After all that examination, it’s time to race. It looks like weather conditions on race day will be near-perfect. Marathons are a beautiful thing and these dudes are ready to throw down. We’ll see you at the start line.

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