Will three times be a charm for Mary Akor?
Could Stillwater High School alum Luke Watson make a Bob Kempainen-like marathon debut at Twin Cities?
Will the ageless Colleen DeReuck become the oldest women's champion of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon?
Those are some of the question prompted by yesterday's release of the elite startlists for next Sunday's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. The race will serve as the USA Women's Marathon Championships as well as the USA Masters Marathon Championships for men and women.
The Women's Field ... For the third-straight year, Nigerian-born American Mary Akor will toe the TCM starting line with a chance to become the first same-year women's champion of both Grandma's Marathon and Twin Cities.
Andrew Musuva of Kenya accomplished the feat in 1999 for men. Zina Semenova, who holds a share of the TCM women's course record, won the state's premier marathons back-to-back but in different years, winning Twin Cities in 2001 and Grandma's in 2002. Minnesotans Jan Ettle, Janis Klecker, and Irina Bogacheva of Kyrgyzstan have won both races non-consecutively.
Akor will face a strong field seeking not only a TCM title but also a USA Championship. Thirty women who competed in last year's Olympic Trials Marathon will race Twin Cities this year.
Olympian Colleen De Reuck, the 2004 Olympic Trials champion, is an intriguing prospect for earning the triple title of TCM, USA, and USA Masters champion in the race. The 45-year-old mother of two is coming off a victory at the USA 20K Championship earlier this month and could become TCM's oldest winner by completing the trifecta.
Other likely contenders for the women's title include: Ilsa Paulson, Samia Akbar, Robyn Friedman, and Sally Mayerhoff. Team USA Minnesota's Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle will make her marathon debut in the race.
Find the complete entry list for the USA Women's Championship HERE.
Men's Marathon ... The men's race, which is not a USA Championship this year, will feature a mix of international and domestic talent. 2004 TCM champion Augustus Kavutu Mbusya of Kenya returns. Girgoriy Andreev of Russia and Stephen Loruo of Kenya appear to be strong challengers -- both having run sub-2:12 for 26.2 miles in the last two years.
American hopes will be pinned on the debuting Watson and Jason Hartman of Concord, Massachusetts. Watson hopes to bottle some of the local magic that Bob Kempainen used when he opened his storied marathon career with a 2:12:12 runner-up finish in the 1991 TCM. Hartman finished 10th at the 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials.
As it will be for the women, the men will be chasing a $25,000 winners prize and a $145,000 prize purse.
Read TCM's media release on its elite field HERE.