Three past champs head Stockade-athon women's field
It’s been 20 years since Lori Hewig set the Gazette Stockade-athon women’s record of 51:34.
It probably won’t be broken on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean that the race hasn’t drawn another stellar women’s field.
On the contrary, after getting 10 women under the hour mark last year, the Stockade-athon will be pushing that number again on Sunday, when the 38th annual 15k is held on the city streets.
Six women who were in that group are back, and there are some newcomers who also should push the 60-minute barrier.
The 2012 champion, Maegan Krifchin, will not be back, but the rare feat of 10 women under an hour could happen for the second time since 1988, when there were 11.
The top group includes three former champions — two-time winner Emily Bryans, former Shenendehowa star Dana Bush and Laurel Leone, who won it in a time of 54:00 in 2009 as Laurel Burdick.
The other top-10 returnees are Sara Dunham, Kristina Gracey, Renee Tolan and Lori Kingsley.
Some of the interesting newcomers are former Saratoga Springs High School star Hannah Davidson, who ran for Providence College before a post-grad year at Tennessee, Alexandra Varanka and Katie O’Regan.
Saratoga Central Catholic High graduate and former George Washington All-American Megan Hogan, who would have been the favorite based on her fast times this year, is entered, but said in an email that she’s injured and doesn’t expect to race “all out,” if she runs at all.
Still, “The field is just unbelievable,” race director Vince Juliano said.
Leone is a member of the elite Stotan Racing team based in Syracuse who brought several top runners to the Stockade-athon last year.
She’s coming off a victory in the Bread for Schools Half Marathon in Fabius with a time of 1:17:47 on Sept. 22.
Davidson, who ran a 16:20 5k personal record in 2012 for the Volunteers, has also joined Stotan Racing. This will be her 15k debut.
Bush (nee Ostrander) won the Stockade-athon in 2000 and finished fourth last year in her first appearance at the race in 12 years.
She a ran sub-36:00 10k at the Saratoga Great Pumpkin Run.
Dunham, of Peru, has finished third in the Stockade-athon the last two years, and Varanka, a New Hampshire runner, was the fourth-place American and sixth overall with a time of 79:50 at the Hartford Half Marathon.
O’Regan, of Pennsylvania, won the Berwick Run for Diamonds nine-miler two years ago and was second last year with a faster time.
Bryans has been on a tear in the masters division this year, running a career-best 17:02 for 5k in March, winning the USATF Memorial Mile Grand Prix in 5:08 in May and the USATF Grand Prix 5k in 17:45 in June.
Gracey, who has won the Troy Turkey Trot the last two years, and Tolan were 1-2, respectively, in the Team Workforce Challenge last year.
Kingsley is the masters record holder (56:10) at the Stockade-athon and is still in 56-minute shape, having run 56:54 at the USA 15k Masters Championship in Tulsa, Okla., in October.
Besides the elite field, the Stockade-athon has gradually attracted more women overall to the point where it’s almost a 50-50 split with the number of men.
“We’ve never had more women than men,” Juliano said. “I thought we were going to do it last year, but after the no-shows, it wound up 51-49 men-to-women.”
As race organizers did last year, there will be a divided start for the first 40 yards of the course to allow the women to get away cleanly before the field merges.
Juliano said that he has assurances from the city that the Stockade-athon course will be usable in the sections of heavy construction on both sides of Erie Boulevard along State Street.
Runners should be warned that the surface might be uneven and gravel-covered in spots. . . .
The absolute last chance to sign up for the 15k race will take place from 4-7 tonight at FleetFeet Sports off Wolf Road in Colonie.