The Stockade-athon didn’t just reconfigure since last year. It reloaded.
For the first time since 1988, the men’s field produced 10 finish times under 49 minutes in 2013, a testament to the quality of the race, and also a difficult feat to repeat.
Some of those runners won’t be back, but the Stockade-athon could still pull it off again on Sunday, when the 39th annual 15k kicks off at 8:30 a.m.
What is certain is that this year’s race will satisfy the “reconfigure” aspect.
The route will cover most of the same ground as it always has, but in a significantly different way.
With a new title sponsor — MVP — and the desire to make the course safer and easier to control, event organizers have moved the start and finish from Central Park to the heart of downtown.
The runners will also cover the 9.3-mile Stockade-athon loop in a clockwise direction for the first time ever.
Expected to be among the field of close to 2,000 entries are seven of the sub-49 10 from 2013, but not the top two finishers — Michael Fout (45:48) and Josh Simpson.
That’s OK, because the race has drawn Christian Thompson, who skipped the Stockade-athon last year after winning it in 2012 with a time of 47:01, and Eliud Ngetich, a 20-year-old from Kenya who posted a sub-30 10k against staunch competition in Middletown in June.
Another fresh face whose resumé has some heft is Josh McDougal, who in 2007 beat future Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp for the NCAA cross country national championship while McDougal was running for tiny Liberty University.
He is attempting a comeback this year after being besieged by injuries.
It adds up to another loaded field.
“The men’s race is going to be ridiculous,” race director Vince Juliano said.
The women’s elite field isn’t nearly as deep, but boasts serious quality at the top, led by Saratoga Springs native Megan Hogan, a two-time All-American at George Washington University who finished sixth at the Freihofer’s Run for Women in just under 16 minutes.
She’ll be joined by 2012 Stockade-athon winner Maegan Krifchin and 2013 winner Hannah Davidson, a former star at Saratoga Springs High School and Providence College who has joined Krifchin on the Syracuse-based Stotan Racing team.
Thompson finished 20th overall and was the third American at the New York City Marathon last year as he pursues a spot at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Ngetich, nicknamed “Heldy” as a shortened version of his hometown in Kenya, was ninth in 47:18 at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, D.C., in April, and followed that up with a fourth on a leaderboard predominantly made up of Africans at the Middletown Classic in June. His time there was 29:32.
“That speaks for itself,” Juliano said. “The Cherry Blossom is a notoriously fast course, but if you do the math, a 47 going 10 miles is 45, 46 [at 9.3]. The Stockade-athon course is a lot tougher than that. So he’s a player.”
Expected back from the sub-49 club of 2013 are Sam Morse, Patrick Geoghegan, Jaime Julia, Stotan runner Andrew Foxenberg, Alex Paley, Macky Lloyd and Lou Serafini.
Geoghegan was 11th in 31:34 at the Middletown Classic and was 11th at the B.A.A. Half Marathon in Boston on Oct. 12 in 1:06:56.
Serafini, a former star at Niskayuna High School and Boston College, won the five-mile Delmar Dash in 24:43.
“Fout was coming off college nationals and destroyed the field last year,” Juliano said. “I don’t know if there’s a Mike Fout in here, but there are five or six who are going for the win.”
Hogan is coming off a win at the Hartford Half Marathon in 1:12:11 on Oct. 11, knocking off a minute from her 2013 time.
“That’s about the most competitive half marathon in the Northeast,” Juliano said. “That’s pro. There are maybe five or six women in the whole country who could beat her in the Stockade-athon.”
There is no day-of-race registration for the Stockade-athon.
Early packet pickup will take place from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. today at FleetFeet Sports on Wolf Road in Albany. Parents can still sign up their kids for the 1k Children’s Run at packet pickup.
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