(02-Dec) -- Sunday's USATF Half-Marathon Championships, hosted by the Mortgage Network Half-Marathon in Hardeeville, S.C., features very deep fields. Spurred by a $40,000 prize money purse ($7,000 for the winners), 49 women and 62 men have registered for the championships division of the race. The competition is the final event of the 2021 USATF Running Circuit.
The women's field is led by 2:22 marathoner Keira D'Amato of Midlothian, Va. D'Amato, 37, has a half-marathon best of 1:08:57 set one year ago at the Michigan Pro Ekiden, and she is coming off of an excellent performance at the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, Conn., last Thursday where she broke the course record but finished second. Manchester, where the distance is just short of five miles, was D'Amato's first race back after finishing fourth at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 10.
"Coming back from Chicago and being able to move my legs this quick is a positive," D'Amato told Race Results Weekly. "I broke the course record but, unfortunately, someone broke it before me."
Also in the women's field is 2016 Olympic Triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen of Boulder, Colo. (1:10:58 PB); reigning USA 20-K champion Erika Kemp of Brookline, Mass. (1:10:25); reigning USA 25-K champion Makena Morley of Bozeman, Mont. (1:10:23); and 2020 USATF cross country champion Natosha Rogers of Denver, Colo. (1:10:45).
On the men's side, the leading entrant is actually one of the least experienced half-marathoners in the field. Two-time NCAA cross country champion Conner Mantz of Brigham Young University has entered the race. Last July after he finished second in the NCAA Championships 10,000m and fifth at the USA Olympic Trials 10,000m, Mantz ran the high altitude --but severely downhill-- Deseret News Half-Marathon in Salt Lake City, clocking 1:02:59. He recently told LetsRun.com on their podcast that he'd like to try for a fast time on Sunday. He might even be targeting Ryan Hall's 2007 national record of 59:43.
"Super shoes weren't a thing when Ryan Hall was running," Mantz said. "I think the half-marathon might be, just how my training's been going and everything, that might be my best distance, like as of right now. And so I was thinking about it and I was like man... why not just go for it. I think it might be the easiest American record to break right now with super shoes being a thing."
Other top entrants include 2018 USATF marathon champion Brogan Austin of Boulder, Colo. (1:01:52); 2016 Olympian Leonard Korir of Colorado Springs, Colo. (59:52); 2020 USATF 15-K champion Frank Lara of Boulder, Colo. (1:01:00); Olympic triathlete Morgan Pearson (1:02:15); and 2019 USATF 10-Mile champion Futsum Zienasellassie (1:01:44).
The course records for this event are 1:03:19 for men (Ben Flanagan, CAN, 2020), and 1:12:21 for women (Emily Kearney, GBR, 2020). The championships records are 59:43 (Ryan Hall, Houston, 2007) and 1:09:41 (Shalane Flanagan, Houston, 2010).
Race director Larry Kimball not only has had the full 21.0975-kilometer distance certified, but also key intermediate points.
"The course was certified for 5-K, 10-K, 15-K, 20-K and finish and will have live race results at those points," Kimball told Race Results Weekly. "Because of the potential record attempt, USATF has asked us to certify for 10 miles also. That will be done Saturday morning."
The full fields are listed here.