Americans Tyler McCandless, Fernando Cabada, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and Maegan Krifchin amongst top entrants.
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The 2013/2014 Professional Road Racing Organization’s season opens on Sunday with the 36th running of the Utica Boilermaker 15K in Upstate New York. The annual event, which is one of America’s largest 15K races, recorded 11,359 finishers last year.
The PRRO series is made up of five events in two countries which offer a total of $433,000 in prize money and bonuses. After the season opens Sunday in Utica, the sequence of events will be as follows: the World’s Best 10K in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on February 23, 2014; the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 2014; the Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K in Spokane, Wash., on May 4, 2014; and the PRRO Championships at the AJC Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4.
In addition to the prize money offered at each event, athletes can also earn a season-ending bonus by winning one PRRO event during the season, then winning the season finale at the Peachtree. That bonus was reset to $15,000 by PRRO officials after last season’s $10,000 bonus went unclaimed on both the male and female sides. Neither Peachtree champion –Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew nor Kenya’s Lineth Chepkurui– had won a 2012/2013 PRRO event going into the finale.
“With the stellar field Peachtree had this year, it’s not surprising that none of the four (eligible) runners was able to capture the victory and the bonus,” commented PRRO President Don Kardong through a statement. “The good news is that the pot is sweetened for next year’s PRRO Championship, which kicks off this weekend at the Boilermaker.”
Sunday’s Boilermaker features both recently-crowned Peachtree champions, Geremew and Chepkurui, according to Dick Mattia who coordinates the elite runners for the event. Also in the international field will be reigning Ethiopian 5000m/10,000m champion Belete Assefa (second at Peachtree), 2009 Boston Marathon champion Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, 2008 African Championships silver medalist Meskerem Assefa (also of Ethiopia), and 2013 Allstate Life Insurance Miami Beach 13.1 Marathon champion Risper Gesabwa of Kenya. The top Americans entered include 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon champion Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, 2012 USA Half Marathon Championships runner-up Maegan Krifchin (who lives in nearby Dewitt, N.Y.), American 25K record holder Fernando Cabada, and 2013 Pensacola Double Bridge Run 15K champion Tyler McCandless.
The Boilermaker’s winners will receive $7,000 each, the masters champions will receive $2,000 each, and the top Americans will also earn $2,000 each. The event records are 42:40 by the late Joseph Kimani of Kenya in 1996, and 47:57 by Edna Kiplagat, also of Kenya, in 2010. Reigning Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa has the record for the current course (the course was changed in 1997): 42:46.