In my opinion, the half marathon is tougher to predict than the marathon. You cannot hide fitness during a full marathon, and the gaps that separate competition is usually pretty clear. However, with the half marathon, the margin for error is lower and there are just a lot more competitors to sort through. This year seems to be the year of local runners as I was unable to identify very many out-of-state runners coming for the race:
Bridget Easley (LRC): Bridget has been one of the mainstay runners in the Lincoln Half Marathon race for the past few years, including back-to-back titles in 2013 (1:21:38) and 2014 (1:19:16). Bridget has already been running strong this year including a 36:54.53 10k at Leprechaun Chase in March, a 29:23 8k at the Shamrock Shuffle at the end of March and a 37:34 10k in April at a tough Novartis Run. Bridget should have the opportunity to defend her title, and to extend her strong racing into May 3rd.
Shannon Suing (TN): Shannon ran extremely well at the State Farm 10 mile in late March, winning the women’s race in 1:02:52 (82 pace). Any results since then could not be found, so it seems as though Shannon will be fresh and ready to compete with some of the state’s best this weekend! Shannon was third overall in last year’s marathon, finishing in 2:55:29.
Michelle Paxton (LRC): The Lincoln Marathon’s experience with Michelle is that she is very consistent. Over the past three years, she has ran times of 1:25:14, 1:23:18 and 1:25:13, respectively. Like teammate Bridget, Michelle has been racing well this year with a 37:11.8 10k at Leprechaun Chase, a 29:26 at Shamrock Shuffle and a 37:53 10k at Novartis. Barring any injury, Michelle should be looking to improve upon last year’s finish.
Hayley Sutter (LRC): Hayley follows the model set in front of her by both Bridget and Michelle, having ran Leprechaun Chase in 38:56.68, Shamrock in 30:10 and Novartis in 38:17. She finished the Lincoln Half Marathon in 1:24:07 in both 2013 and 2014, placing 8th and 4th, respectively. She holds a PR of 1:20:34 in the half marathon and will be ready to compete, especially over the second half of the race.
Megan Zavorka Thomas (TN): Megan is an extremely talented runner who ran a 1:21:50 half marathon in Lincoln in 2013, followed by a 1:23:38 half marathon at Lincoln last year. Megan ran a 30:35 8k at Shamrock Shuffle and then a 38:45 10k at Novartis Run. Megan has a lot more half and full marathon experience than many of the runners mentioned today, and I’m sure will be ready to compete the moment the gun goes off!
Ashley Tollakson (IA): Ashley has a unique story. She ran a 1:18:31 half marathon in 2011 and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the marathon. She now has two kids and has worked to overcome a sciatic nerve problem. Ashley has ambitions to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the marathon and thinks she can run even faster. Here’s a good article on her from the Des Moines Register.
Jane Cullis (NY): I couldn’t find a whole lot of results on Jane, especially recently. There was a Jane Cullis who ran a 1:16:43.5 half marathon in Toronto in 2011, and if this is the same woman, could throw a wrench into my top 10 predictions.
Briana Adams (NE): Briana Adams is definitely a wild card. After running at the University of Nebraska – Kearney for three years, and accumulating many accomplishments, including a 37:55 10k and 17:58 5k in the 2014 track season, I couldn’t find any road race results for Briana. I would take a guess that this will be her first half marathon, and it wouldn’t be fair for me to put expectations on her when she might not even know what to expect!
Erica Doering (LRC): I believe this will be Erica’s first foray into the half marathon distance. She ran well in the State Farm 5k, running 18:38 to win the race, and the Novartis 10k (38:53), and has her experience as a former Nebraska runner to draw on. I would not want to be around Erica with two or three miles to go!
Breelan Kear (TN): Breelan Kear has been neck and neck with Erica so far this year, finishing the State Farm 5k in 18:52 and the Novartis 10k in 39:03. I don’t expect that trend to change come Sunday.
Amber Sargent (NRGE): Amber is coming off of running a sub 3:00 marathon on a tough day in Boston just two weeks ago. As with many of the individuals who are doubling off Boston to run Lincoln (including several I mentioned yesterday), recovery is going to play the biggest part. However, it should be easier for Amber to recover and run a solid half than a full. With that said, Amber ran a fresh 1:25:44 half marathon at last year’s race.
Angie Voight (MN): Angie has already ran 1:25:44 half marathon in early January of this year, and she also ran a 1:05:22 10 mile race in March (85 pace). Assuming nothing has change over the past two months, Angie should have a pack of women to run with that will propel her to a top 10 finish.
Top 10 Predictions:
1. Bridget Easley (LRC)
2. Ashley Tollakson (IA)
3. Shannon Suing (TN)
4. Hayley Sutter (LRC)
5. Michelle Paxton (LRC)
6. Megan Zavorka Thomas (TN)
7. Erica Doering (LRC)
8. Breelan Kear (TN)
9. Angie Voight (MN)
10. Amber Sargent (NRGE)
Other Women to Watch – Briana Adams (NE), Jane Cullis (NY), Shelby Tucker (LRC)
Overall Master’s Winner – Lynette Ivanov (NE)