USATF – INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — In the final stop of the USATF Running Circuit presented by Toyota, Futsum Zeinasellassie and Paige Stoner ran to impressive victories in Sacramento on Sunday morning at the USATF Marathon Road Championships presented by Toyota.
On-demand race highlights and coverage of the USATF Marathon Road Championships, hosted by the California International Marathon, are available and can be viewed with a +PLUS subscription on USATF.TV.
As the horn sounded to start the race Sunday, 2021 California International Marathon race winner Brendan Gregg immediately jumped to the lead of the men’s race, setting the pace early, as the rest of the field settled into their own paces for the long race ahead.
Gregg opened up an immediate lead, owning an eight second lead over the main chase pack by 5k and 20 seconds by the 10k mark. Behind Gregg, Daniel Mesfun led a sizeable chase pack that included Jacob Thomson, Noah Droddy, Joel Reichow, John Raneri, Zeinasellassie, and others.
As Gregg passed through the halfway point in 1:04:52, he had a 43 second lead over the chase pack, which had dwindled down to Zeinasellassie, Reichow, Mesfun and Thomson, who came through 13.1 miles in 1:05:35.
Just past mile 19, the quartet of Reichow, Thomson, Zeinasellassie, and Mesfun swallowed up Gregg, having closed nearly a 40 second lead quickly within a mere two miles. As the quartet took over, Gregg simply couldn’t match the pace and dropped off the pack.
With the new leaders in place, Thomson jumped to the lead and kept pushing the pace. The four runners stayed together until 5k to go, just past the 23-mile mark, when Zeinasellassie put in an incredible change of pace that the other three simply couldn’t match.
Zeinasellassie, running his debut effort over the marathon distance, continued to hammer the pace over the final miles, extending his lead with every stride. With the finish line in sight, Zeinasellassie managed to hold his form despite having stomach issues, crossing the finish victoriously in 2:11:01, 51 seconds ahead of his nearest competition.
Thomson outlasted the rest of the chase group, running a terrific runner-up performance of 2:11:52. Reichow placed third in 2:12:11, Raneri closed the race extremely well to place fourth overall in 2:12:33, while Mesfun hung on over the final miles to place fifth in 2:12:47.
Zeinasellassie’s performance earned him another 30 points towards the USATF Running Circuit standings, elevating him to second place in the final standings with 86.5 points, finishing only behind Leonard Korir and his 104-point total. Thomson’s runner-up performance moved him up in the final standings, too, finishing with 47 points in fifth place.
Behind the top five, Eddie Owens ran well over the back half of the race to claim sixth in 2:13:25. Matthew McClintock took seventh place in 2:14:00, while Joseph Whelan (2:14:41), Matthew Llano (2:14:56), and Louis Serafini (2:14:59) rounded out the top ten.
As the race got underway on the women’s side, veteran road runners Stoner, Elaina Tabb, Molly Bookmyer, and triathlete turned road racer Lauren Hurley led the women’s field early on, setting the pace.
The quartet would stay together through 10k, passing through in 34:10, well ahead of the rest of the field. Over the next 5k, Hurley and Stoner would pull away from Bookmyer and Tabb, putting more than 10 seconds on the chasing duo.
By the halfway point, Hurley and Stoner were clear in the lead, passing through 13.1 miles in 1:12:20, 31 seconds ahead of Bookmyer and 40 seconds ahead of Tabb.
Just like in the men’s race, mile 19 proved to be a crucial one. Hurley overtook Stoner as the duo passed the 19-mile sign, but Stoner quickly took back over the lead and put in a surge, breaking Hurley ever so slightly, but just enough to gain momentum, which allowed her to start putting a gap on Hurley.
Over the next 10k, Stoner continued to extend her lead, running through the streets of Sacramento strong and confident. As Stoner came into view of the finish line, she cracked a smile, raised her hands in the air, breaking the tape with a decisive win in her third marathon in 2:26:02.
Hurley, despite being dropped by Stoner, held on over the final stages of Sunday’s race to claim second in 2:27:41. She edged Tabb, who ran a terrific final half of the race, much of it by herself, taking home third in 2:28:04.
Bria Wetsch and Katja Goldring placed fourth and fifth in 2:28:35 and 2:29:01, while Kate Sanborn, Maegan Krifchin, and Gabriella Rooker also broke the 2:30 barrier with Sanborn placing sixth in 2:29:19, Krifchin seventh in 2:29:21, and Rooker eighth in 2:29:44. Veterans Neely Gracey and Julie Griffey claimed ninth and tenth in 2:30:29 and 2:30:35, respectively.
Stoner’s winning effort, her first USATF title, earned her 30 points toward the USATF Running Circuit overall standings, finishing the season with 36 total points, good enough for sixth place overall. Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato finished the season tied atop the standings with 55.5 points each.
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 $90,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Marathon Road Championships
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Marathon Road Championships, scoring is set as 30 for first, 24 for second, 20 for third, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2, 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.
Contributed by Scott Bush