“Paul is confident that he will qualify, and his workouts give him every reason to be optimistic. He knows the Twin Cities course, having run his marathon debut there last year, and is looking forward to another outstanding performance,” says GRC Race Team Coach Jerry Alexander.
Alexander adds, “He executed his race plan at the Philly Half perfectly, running precisely 2:19 pace, and if he can settle into that rhythm again, he's got a great shot.”
If Guevara averages 5:19 pace on Sunday, he’ll be the second individual to don a GRC singlet on the starting line in Houston early next year. Karl Dusen also hopes to join this elite club next weekend with a qualifier at Chicago.
Closer to home, GRCers will go head to head with a handful of top notch African elites (including one Moses Kigen Kipkosgei who boasts a 60:38 13.1 mile personal best from last year) and some of the best runners America has to offer at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in Alexandria, VA.
Burnham, a sub-30 minute 10k star at Dartmouth, raced well at Cherry Blossom last spring, but has been rather quiet since then. This will be his first real attempt at this distance and aims for a time between 1:07 and 1:08.
“Dave is peaked for this race and this should be his best performance of the year,” said Coach Jerry, “His fitness has continued to improve and he's on the cusp of returning to the extremely high level he enjoyed during his collegiate career.”
Mercer, 30 years old, has been hitting the track hard in recent months and set a personal best in the mile (4:30) in June. After a somewhat disappointing run a few weeks ago at the ING Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, Mercer looks to better his personal best of 70:11 set in 2009.
Alexander adds, “Dickson is also looking to run his best performance of the year as he prepares for Boston next spring.”
Michelle Miller, who battled an injury earlier this summer, is back to 100% health and this is a good opportunity for her to test her fitness as she begins final preparations for her shot at qualifying for the Olympic Trails at the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
“(Michelle’s) race plan is conservative but even with a controlled early pace, she should run a solid PR,” claimed Coach Jerry.
Before her injury, Miller was in the shape of her life. With the addition of new training partners, her performances at upcoming races will only improve.
Additionally, GRCers Scott Koonce and Annie Scogin are looking forward to serving as guides for visually impaired athletes. Laura O'Hara was the first American finisher last year in this race and she decided not to defend her title this year in order to prepare for the Army 10 Miler, but she was looking forward to returning to the race as a guide. Unfortunately, she will not have the privilege of performing this duty because the athlete she was assigned was forced to withdraw due to an injury.
But first, tomorrow, Charlie Ban hopes to test himself with a hard effort on a rugged course with limited competition at the Freedom's Run Half Marathon in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
"The race gives me an opportunity to run in western Maryland in the fall," said Ban, "and while I would ideally be racing in the mountains near Cumberland (at the Great Allegany Run 15k), a hilly course through the Antietam Battlefield after a few miles on the towpath will be a challenging alternative."
This half marathon comes right on the heals of Ban's fine performance at last weekend's Great Race in Pittsburgh.
"I want to see how well I can close in the race's last three miles after an undulating seven miles prior."