Perhaps the most intriguing subplot in Monday’s Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race involves Matt Tegenkamp and Luke Puskedra.
The race, in its 35th year, is again hosting the U.S. 20K Championships for both men and women, with a prize purse of $43,000 that includes $9,000 for each winner. A $1,000 bonus is on offer for breaking the course record of 57:37, set by Khalid Khannouchi , or 1:05:11, by Colleen de Reuck. Both marks were set in 1998.
The veteran Tegenkamp, 30, will be running the longest race of his career, having never competed at a distance longer than the 12K of the U.S. Cross Country Championships. A two-time Olympian, Tegenkamp recently returned from representing the United States at 10,000 meters in the London Games, after competing at 5000 meters in 2008. He is said to be toying with the idea of running longer distances, perhaps even a marathon at some point.
"It is definitely going to be a new challenge for me,” he said in an interview here.
Puskedra, on the other hand, is widely expected to focus on the marathon distance sooner rather than later. Just 22 years old, Puskedra finished third in the 2012 Aramco Houston Half-Marathon in his debut at the distance in January while still competing for the University of Oregon, and said then that he expected to make his marathon debut in “maybe two years.” His time of 1:01:36 from that race is the fastest in the New Haven field.
Also among the favorites is Andrew Carlson, 30, who finished sixth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in his debut at the distance. The 2010 U.S. 25K champion, Carlson is among the strong American field announced earlier this week for the ING New York City Marathon on November 4.
Their rivals will include Sean Quigley, 27, the 2010 New Haven Road Race champion, and Joseph Chirlee, 32, the 2012 U.S. 25K champion.
In the women’s race, seven-time U.S. champion Katie McGregor, 35, will be challenged by Maegen Krifchin, 24, runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Half-Marathon Championships; Stephanie Rothstein, 28; runner-up in the 2010 U.S. 20K Championships; and Serena Burla, 29, who ran a marathon personal best of 2:28:27 in Seoul, South Korea, earlier this year and whose half-marathon time of 1:10:08, which ties her for ninth-fastest on the U.S. all-time list, is the fastest in the field.
Also likely to be in the mix are Renee Baillie, 30, and Lindsey Scherf, 25. Both are in the midst of successful 2012 campaigns on the roads, with Baillie finishing as the top American woman in the Beach to Beacon 10K and Scherf finishing second in the U.S. 25K Championships.
Always dangerous is the versatile Alisha Williams, 30, who in 2012 has finished second in the U.S Road Mile Championships, fifth in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at 10,000 meters, and 14th in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg