Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cabada, Ponomarenko Return to Twin Cities

Two Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon champions who braved challenging weather conditions to win Minnesota's richest marathon will return to reclaim their titles next Sunday at the 29th running of the event.

Fernando Cabada (pictured above), the U.S. 25K record-holder who weathered a torrent of rain to win Twin Cities in 2008, returns after a one-year absence. As it did in 2008, the race will serve as the USA Men's Marathon Championships this year.

Svetlana Ponomarenko (pictured below), who won the 2007 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon despite stifling heat and humidity, returns after a two-year hiatus to race from the Metrodome in Minneapolis to the state capitol in St. Paul for the $25,000 winner's prize.

In the Medtronic TC 10 Mile, which serves as the 2010 USA Women's 10 Mile Championship, five time TC 10 Mile champion Katie McGregor of Team USA Minnesota headlines a strong field that includes three-time Olympian Jen Rhines.

Twin Cities will also serve as the USA Masters Marathon Championships.

Read excerpts of Twin Cities In Motion's media release on its elite fields below ...

USA Men’s Marathon – In the marathon, all eyes will focus on former race winner Fernando Cabada to see if he can become only the fourth man in race history to win multiple Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon titles. In 2008, Cabada won Twin Cities and the USA Marathon title by battling chilling rains and sturdy competition to win in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 32 seconds.

Cabada will face a field of emerging young marathoners vying for their own USA title. Jeffrey Eggleston of New York City looks to build on the 2:14:32 debut he made at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix earlier this year. He’ll likely be joined in the lead pack by Palmdale , California ’s Sergio Reyes, who clocked 2:15:30 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last fall and Hudson , Wisconsin native Mike Reneau, who has a 2:16:20 to his credit.

Luke Watson, the Stillwater native who finished 7th at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon last fall in 2:15:29, is the local favorite as he attempts to be the first male Minnesota native to win the state’s premier marathon. Duarte , California ’s Mohamed Trafeh, a marathon debutante, has the shorter-distance credentials that could make him a winner – he’s the reigning USA 15K champion and has run 1:00:38 half marathon, the 5th-fastest ever run by an American. Team USA Minnesota’s Josh Moen, who finished runner-up in last year’s USA Men’s 10 Mile Championships, could make an impact in the marathon, despite his modest 2:23:16 personal best.

USA Masters Marathon – 45-year-old, two-time Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon champion Mbarak Hussein, whose running resume glows with a 2:08:12 marathon personal best from 2004, is the favorite to win his third USA Masters Marathon title. Despite his age, he also shouldn’t be counted out for the overall title either, as both of his previous Twin Cities wins came after he turned 40. Hussein’s masters competition is likely to come from 42-year-old Carl Rundell of Birmingham , Michigan , last year’s USA Masters runner-up, or 44-year-old Sean Wade of Houston , Texas , who brings a 2:10:59 personal best from his younger days to the starting line.

In the women’s competition, 47-year-old Susan Loken of Phoenix will seek a fourth USA Masters title. Loken won masters titles on the streets between Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2005, 2006, and 2007. 43-year-old Jill Boaz, who was the second-place finisher and the USA Champion at the 2002 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, should provide strong competition as well as top seeded Tamara Karrh, in her first year of eligibility as a Master’s runner.

USA Women’s 10 Mile – Five-time Medtronic TC 10 Mile champion Katie McGregor of Edina will seek the one thing that has eluded her on the course nicknamed the “Shortcut to the Capitol®” – namely, a USA title. When the USA Women’s Championship was contested at Twin Cities in 2008, McGregor finished runner-up to Duluth native Kara Goucher in her lone defeat on the familiar course.

McGregor, a six-time USA titlist in distances ranging from 10K to 25K, will face strong competition from three-time Olympian Jen Rhines of Mammoth Lakes, California, who has represented her country at the Olympics in the 5000-meters, 10,000-meters, and marathon, and Renee Metivier-Baillie, the 4th-place finisher at this year’s USA Half Marathon Championship.

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Open Women’s Race – Although not a USA Championship this year, the race for the women’s title at the 2010 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon should feature a battle between 2007 champion Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia and this year’s Grandma’s Marathon champion Bezunesh Deba of Ethiopia . Ponomarenko, now a 40-year-old, survived sauna-like temperatures to win the race in 2007 in 2:34:09. Deba prevailed in Duluth last June running 2:31:35.

Other contenders for the women’s crown include Galina Alexandrova of Russia , a 2:36:20 marathoner, and Alena Vinitskaya of Belarus , 2:32:28.

Photos by Paul Phillips, Competitive Image.

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