Saturday, January 17, 2015

2015 US Half-Marathon Championships Predictions (Better Late than Never)

It's way late but since I just read Lets Run's half-marathon preview, I figured I need to make mine before the race so I can either look like a genius or an idiot tomorrow morning. And after reading my predictions, maybe Lets Run will hire me to do future race previews because I am a one-time prediction contest winner (it was one year of the NCAA D1 XC predictions and I didn't even win a prize or anything) and my predictions are better than that other guy's.

I'm not going to waste any time giving an in-depth preview of the race because it's late and my arms are tired from washing and polishing my car (I'm a runner, not a power lifter).  So, I'll just state my top ten predictions and see how dumb I look tomorrow. Predicting the first major race of the season is tough because you don't know how sharp someone is. If someone is only 95% "fit" instead of 100%, they could go from potential top five to being outside the top 10.  But I'll do my best here.

#1. Meb. He doesn't even need a last name.  Mainly because that's what everyone knows him by, he's pretty much a running celebrity and I'm too lazy to look up how to spell his it.  While munching on some bacon, eggs and Cracker Barrel pancakes with Chris and Kevin Barrett today, we were discussing Meb. We were talking about how the dude is old and not only is he outrunning the competition, but Father Time as well.  But Father Time always eventually wins...but not this year. He may not have the 10k wheels he had back in the day, but he ran really well last year at this race and I feel is "young" enough to pull out another win.

#2. Shadrack Biwott. This guy never runs poorly in the longer stuff.  He's also coming off a 2:12 marathon this past October (was on 2:10 pace for about 20 miles) and seems to do really well on the flat, rhythm courses.  And Houston is a flat, rhythm course.

#3. Girma Mecheso.  I almost put him at #2 but he doesn't have the half-marathon experience.  He did win a US title at the 10 mile and 20k Championships but he will be facing a much deeper field here.

#4. Josphat Boit.  I don't like putting him fourth but he was pretty quiet the second half of the year. When he's fit, he's very fast and if I missed the race tomorrow and heard that Meb didn't win, Boit would be my pick.  He even beat Bekele and Bob Kennedy in the same race when a lot of the guys fighting for a top 10 spot tomorrow were still in middle school. But it's hard to gauge his fitness when he doesn't have many recent results.

#5. Jeffrey Eggleston.  I'll be interested to see how he runs here.  He's only like six weeks or something off his Fukuoka race, so he may not be too sharp.  He did run a ton of half-marathons last year and Lets Run pegged him to be pushing for a 63 something tomorrow since he ran so many 63-64s in his half marathons.  But those guys need to do their homework because he was sneakingly racking up points in the Competitor's Grand Prix and wasn't focused on racing fast, just earning some Benjamins.  And he rabbited the marathon here last year in a low 63 first half after coming off the flu, so it won't be surprising to see him run fast tomorrow.

#6. Matt Llano. Had a heck of a 2014, minus the Chicago Marathon.  But the marathon is a tough mistress, especially when it's your first one.  That performance undoubtedly fueled his fire and his training looks pretty solid compared to where he was last year.  One of his unclaims to fame is that I believe he's the only guy I've ever beaten in my predicted top 10. Bonus points if you can figure out the race.  I just found out today while doing some results hunting.

#7. Gabe Proctor. This guy is a future current stud and is one of my dark horse picks for the 2016 Olympic Marathon team.  He spent 2014 not only running really fast but getting his feet wet in competitive races.  Maybe he finishes higher than seventh and I put him here since Lets Run used bad logic by saying he is more likely to make another big jump compared to Llano since he is two years older than Proctor.  But going back in time, Llano was probably running more slowly 2-3 years than him, so he's on a sharper improvement curve. But whatever.  They are both very tough racers and will be in the hunt for Rio.

#8. Jared Ward. He's that guy that originally lost an entire season of eligiblity for jumping in what was a glorified fun run. But the public was outraged and he got his eligibility back just in time to compete in Regionals and Nationals.  If the NCAA continued to be idiots, his team would have been outside the top 10  at Nationals instead of finishing fourth.  But anyway, this guy is quietly making big progress on the roads and should be primed for a good one here.

#9. Diego Estrada. Hasn't dabbed much in the longer races but has the second fastest 5k and 10k PR in my predicted top 10 with a 13:15 and 27:32.  But this ain't no stinking track.  Maybe in his next big race, he can run under 62:00 but it's hard to do it in your first dance.

#10. Ian Burrell.  The fastest lawyer in the United States, maybe even in the entire world.  But if I'm wrong, don't sue me. I'm not sure how much his work has impacted his training but he ran decently well at the US Marathon Championships in October as well as the 2014 Houston Marathon where he whooped me by almost four minutes the last eight miles. Like several of the guys above him, he also brings his "A" game more often than not in the big races.

*Too late to count but I forgot about Aron Rono.  I would have put him tenth.

Random Facts About the Above 10

  • Half of the guys were born outside the United States.  With Meb from Eritrea, Biwott and Boit from Kenya, Mecheso and Proctor from Ethiopia and Estrada from Mexico. 
  • All but two live at altitude with Meb and Mecheso being the outsiders.  Mecheso is also the only guy that lives east of  Colorado.  

  • I believe Burrell is the only working man
  • Biwott, Boit and Proctor all train together as part of Andrew Kastor's training group in Mammoth.  

There's also some Nashville connected flavor in the race tomorrow.  Connor Kamm is the only current Nashville resident competing and he's shooting for 65:00 tomorrow.  He was hurt most of last year, got fit really quickly, then recently got hurt playing soccer.  But if he doesn't make a solid run a at the 65 flat, I'd be very surprised.

Brock Baker is also in the field and shooting for 65:00 as well.  He grew up in Nashville and is currently in Medical School at UNC.  He also ate breakfast at my house once.

Finally, I saw Sean Keveren's name on the entrant list.  Like Brock, Sean grew up in Nashville. He ran sub 23 for 8k this past fall and sub 13:40 on the track last summer.  I also gave him a whooping for trying to take me out in a Nashville race in the 2013 Boulevard Bolt.  The guy wants a rematch, so I'm hiding out until the Marathon Trials.  He's never run anything over a 10k but with an average race, he's very easily a sub 65 guy and may even compete for a top 10 spot.  But like Andrew Bumbalough, he will never train with me when he's in town.


  1. Man....Diego pretty much decimated the field!

  2. Apparently he didn't get the message that 'this ain't no stinking track.'

  3. Yeah, I was definitely surprised. The half is a tough race, especially since it was his first competitive one. I thought he had the potential to run sub 62 in his next one but running under 61 all alone was definitely impressive. I wouldn't be surprised to see him run a low 27 on the track this year.

    Jared Ward also ran really well and I like seeing fresh faces mix it up.

  4. I don't know if that WAS his game plan, or if he was just on an adrenaline rush the whole race or what, but it looked like he could have gone 58 easy if he wanted. That seemed completely effortless for him. Pretty consistent

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