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Keflezighi and Rhines compete in USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

SAN DIEGO -- Masters runners from across the country will compete for overall and age-group titles at the 2015 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships, held in conjunction with the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon of San Diego on Sunday, May 31.

Meb Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, California), a new masters addition after turning 40 on May 5, and Jen Rhines (Mammoth Lakes, California), who celebrated her 40th birthday less than a year go, are the favorites heading into the race and are expected to also be in contention for titles in the open Division.

There is only one runner on the men’s side who can reasonably compete with Meb and that is the famed Masters runner, Kevin Castille (Lafayette, Louisiana), who is the defending champion. Last year on a tough course in Melbourne, Florida, on an extremely humid day, Castille took the title in a time of 1:07:55. With a favorable course and better weather, Castille should lower that mark in the race on Sunday. Both Keflezighi and Castille ran in the Beach to Beacon 10K last summer, and Castille prevailed over San Diego’s favorite son by three seconds.

The 10 km is arguably Castille’s best distance whereas the Half Marathon is closer to Keflezighi’s best distance, the Marathon. In fact Keflezighi ran a 1:02:18 last January to take fourth place at the USATF Half Marathon in Houston. If Keflezighi’s half marathon fitness is anywhere close to what it was in January, he will run away with the Masters crown. However, Castille’s presence guarantees it will be a real race.

On the women’s side, Rhines will likely run with the open elites and Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, California) will be appear in the event but will be pacing herself.

In addition to the race for the overall Masters crowns, there are a number of exciting races to follow within the age groups. 

There are three close contenders in the women’s 45-49 group. Jaymee Marty (Sacramento, California) ran a 1:23:03 to take the Women’s overall masters crown in the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon in San Francisco earlier this year. At about the same time, across the country, the defending USATF W45 Half Marathon champion, Terri Rejimbal (Tampa, Florida), was winning her age group at the Gasparilla Half Marathon in 1:24:30. And in March, Celestine Arambulo (San Diego, California) took the women’s masters’ title at the San Diego Half Marathon in 1:23:41.

The same is true of the Men’s 45-49 age group. Chris Knorzer (Rocklin, California) appears to be the favorite with the fastest recent time, a 1:12:36 in the Humboldt Redwoods Half Marathon earlier this year. But he has two sub 1:16 challengers in Rob Arsenault, who clocked 1:14:32 a couple of years ago in the Surf City USA Half Marathon, and Rob Decot, who ran 1:15:45 in the Grandma’s Half Marathon last year.

The Men’s 50-54 group features a rematch between Spyros Barres (Mystic, Connecticut) and Ricardo Maldonado (Scottsdale, Arizona) who battled for first and second in the age group competition at the USATF Marathon Championship last year in the Twin Cities. In that contest, Barres edged Maldonado by a mere 15 seconds, 2:38:48 to 2:39:01. Maldonado ran a 1:13:32 at the PF Chang Rock ‘n R Half Marathon in March, as well as David Olds (Los Angeles, California) who mostly runs shorter races. Nonetheless, in October of 2011 Olds ran 1:14:02 in the Rock ‘n Roll L.A. Half Marathon and could make things interesting for Barres and Maldonado.

Masters Runner of the Year in 2013, Brian Pilcher (Ross, California) should lead the way in the M55-59 category. Earlier this year Pilcher ran a 1:14:50 at the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon in San Francisco. Fred Zalokar (Reno, Nevada) should give Pilcher all he can handle, as Zalokar ran a 1:14:54 at the PF Chang Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in January and then a 1:15:13 on May 3 in Vancouver, Canada. Joe Sheeran (Ellensburg, Washington), who ran a 1:15:23 at the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon a couple of years back, is also one to watch.

Other top age-group runners include M70 Jan Frisby (Grand Junction, Colorado), W60 Honor Fetherston (Los Gatos, California), W65 Jo Anne Rowland (Concorde, California), and W70 Norma Thomas (Moreno Valley, California). Frisby will be looking for his fourth straight national championship this year and Fetherston will be looking to add a gold medal to the silver she won at the USATF 8 km Championship in Brea, California. Rowland and Thomas are both looking for their second national championships of the year as they each were top of their age groups at the 8 km championship in Brea.

Click here for additional information on the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships.

Contributed by:
Paul Carlin
National Media Coordinator
USA Track & Field-Masters Long Distance Running

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