McCandless graduated from Northampton High School where he was a District 11 Champion and record holder in the 3200 meter run with a time of 9:13.01, as well as a PIAA State Medalist in cross country and track and field. After graduating, McCandless ran one year for the University of Maryland before transferring to Penn State University. At Penn State, he flourished under Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan, steadily progressing to a 29:15 personal best in the 10,000 meters and an All-American performance in that event in the spring of 2010.
McCandless quickly showed promise as a professional road racer with a 46:04 performance at the Utica Boilermaker 15K, claiming top American honors. He was also the top American finisher at the Buffalo Subaru Chase 4-Miler, and he won the San Francisco Half Marathon and set a course record with a time of 1:05:02. In his debut marathon, McCandless finished 6th at the 2010 California International Marathon in 2:17:22, qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon.
In 2011, he ran 1:05:38 at the USA Half Marathon Championships and 45:17 at the USA 15K Championships. He also won and broke the course record in Denver, Colorado at the 2011 RRCA Colorado State Championships 10 mile in a time of 52:08 at 5,280 ft elevation. He finished 8th overall and top American at the 2011 Indianapolis Mini-Marathon with a time of 1:05:09 and followed that with a 2:17:09 marathon personal best at Grandma’s Marathon to finish 11th overall. McCandless, 24, is coached by Brad Hudson and is sponsored by Mizuno and Honey Milk.
“It is a great honor to be chosen as a 2011 RRCA Roads Scholar, and I am very proud to follow in the footsteps of many great athletes who have been previously awarded this prestigious scholarship,” he said. “I am very thankful to the RRCA and all of the donors who make this award possible. I’m very fortunate to have an amazing support system of family and friends that make professional running not only possible, but a dream come true.”