Sunday's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis serves as the USA Marathon Championship for women, and 45 year-old four-time Olympian, Colleen De Reuck, may well come home first. If she does, she would be the oldest-ever USA marathon champion, male or female, according to Ken Young of the independent Association of Road Racing Statisticians.
Young reports that Johnny Kelly was the oldest-ever USA marathon champion when he won the national title back in 1950 at age 42.
A De Reuck victory, however, would not be an upset. At the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race 20-K on Sept. 7, the USA championship for that distance, De Reuck was the overall women's winner in 1:07:21. She beat second place Serena Burla, 19 years her junior, by 17 seconds, setting a world 45-49 masters record.
"I just tried to relax," De Reuck said at the time, adding, "I was just hanging on at the end."
For Sunday's race the former South African, who has two children including a two year-old, will be challenged by Sally Meyerhoff (2:35:52 PB), Robyn Friedman (2:35:02), and Mary Akor (2:33:50) amongst others. The race is also hosting the USA Masters Marathon Championship, so an overall victory by De Reuck would actually net her two titles.
De Reuck set her career best time for the marathon back in 1996 when she ran 2:26:36 to win the Berlin Marathon. In the last two years she's run 2:32:25 at Chicago in 2008 (6th overall), and 2:35:37 at Boston this year (8th overall), both excellent times for a women in her mid-40's. A combined overall and masters victory for De Reuck would be worth at least $35,500 in prize money, and possibly more in open and masters time incentives.
In typically modest fashion, De Reuck played down her chances in the race. "I'm hoping for a top-5 finish in the open and I'm going for a win in the master's race," De Reuck told race organizers earlier this week.