INDIANAPOLIS – With a record $818,700 in guaranteed prize money, the richest USA Running Circuit in history is set for 2004. The USARC, a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from 5 km to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners, including Olympians Deena Drossin, Meb Keflezighi, Elva Dryer and Bob Kennedy.
The tenth edition for the men and ninth for the women, the 2004 circuit has nine events for men and seven events for women. Every 2003 USARC race has returned to host a national championship.
The 2004 Olympic Team Trials – Men’s Marathon, hosted by the Mercedes Marathon on February 7 in Birmingham, Ala., kicks off the Men’s USARC. At the Olympic Marathon Trials, qualified U.S. men will vie for three Olympic team spots and an Olympic Trials record purse of $271,500.
The Gate River Run 15K, a long-standing national championship, opens the Women’s USARC (also a Men’s event) on March 13. The 2004 circuit offers over $790,000 in national championship prize money plus a $25,000 grand prix purse. The River Bank Run 25K, CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K and Tufts 10K also have Open prize money.
The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 points for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6000, $4000 and $2500) for the top three men and women point scorers overall. The USARC points at the USA Marathon Championships will be doubled.
The 2003 USARC was perhaps the best ever, featuring three U.S. records and five national championships records. While $425,000 was earned by U.S. athletes, fast times and exciting and deep competition were the rule.
With consistent performances, rising star Ryan Shay and veteran Colleen De Reuck won the overall 2003 USARC Grand Prix titles with 68 and 73 points, respectively, and the accompanying $6000. De Reuck also defended her GP crown, while Shay won two U.S. titles – marathon and half-marathon. The other GP prize money winners were Meb Keflezighi and Marla Runyan (second) and Phillimon Hanneck and Sara Wells (third).
U.S. road records at 15 km (47:15) and 20 km (58:57 and 1:05:52) by Drossin, Keflezighi and Runyan respectively highlighted the 2003 USARC. The three U.S. records were the most set in one USARC season; the previous record was one (1995 and 2002).
Overall, 54 U.S. men and 49 U.S. women scored USARC points in 2003, and U.S. athletes took home $412,350 in prize money plus a $25,000 Grand Prix purse for the top three GP scorers.
The USA Running Circuit mission is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners, and since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $4.2 million dollars to U.S. distance runners. Past USARC Grand Prix champions include Olympians Keith Brantly (’95), Mark Coogan (’96), Rod DeHaven (’98/’00), Colleen De Reuck (’02-03), Libbie Hickman (’99-00), Anne Marie Lauck (’96), Shelly Steely (’98) and Todd Williams (’99).
Below is the 2004 USARC schedule:
1) Olympic Team Trials – Men’s Marathon*, Birmingham, AL $271,500 Feb 7
2) Gate River Run 15K, Jacksonville, FL $23,500 March 13
3) New York Road Runners 8000, New York, NY $20,000 March 27
4) Papa John’s 10 Miler, Louisville, KY $26,500 April 10
5) Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, Grand Rapids, MI $10,600 May 8
6) Carondelet Hospital Hill Half-Marathon, Kansas City, MO $10,100 June 5
7) New Haven Savings Bank 20K, New Haven, CT $17,000 Sept 6
8) CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K, Providence, RI $12,000 Sep 12
9) Food World Senior Bowl Charity Run 10K, Mobile, AL $25,000 Nov 6
USARC Grand Prix $12,500
1) Gate River Run 15K, Jacksonville, FL $23,500 March 13
2) Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon*, St. Louis, MO $250,000 April 3
3) Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, Grand Rapids, MI $10,600 May 8
4) Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K, Albany, NY $28,600 June 5
5) Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon, Duluth, MN $27,500 June 19
6) New Haven Savings Bank 20K, New Haven, CT $17,000 Sept 6
7) Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women, Boston, MA $20,300 Oct 11
USARC Grand Prix $12,500
*USARC points will be doubled at the USA Marathon Championships
USARC Grand Prix Champions (1995-2003)
1995 Keith Brantly not contested
1996 Mark Coogan Anne Marie Lauck
1997 John Sence Kim Jones
1998 Rod DeHaven Shelly Steely
1999 Todd Williams Libbie Hickman
2000 Rod DeHaven Libbie Hickman
2001 Dan Browne/Scott Larson Milena Glusac
2002 Dan Browne Colleen De Reuck
2003 Ryan Shay Colleen De Reuck
For more information on the USARC, go to: www.usatf.org