Marathon In Jacksonville draws elites

Sunday's 26.2 for Donna, National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer in Jacksonville, Fla, has drawn large elite fields with its USD 67,500 prize money purse, organizers reported. The overall male and female marathon winners will receive USD 10,000.

Elite athlete coordinator Keith Brantly, an Olympic marathoner in 1996, has recruited 24 men and 16 women, despite the lack of a travel budget. The men's race looks to be pretty evenly matched, but Kenyan stalwarts Jyoncel Basweti (2:14:02 PB) and Wilson Chepkowny (2:14:59) appear to be the strongest athletes. Kenyan-born American, Simon Sawe, last year's race champion, is also entered (2:13:33 PB). Sawe won the Clico Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon just three weeks ago.

The women's race has three noteworthy athletes, led by American Mary Akor of Hawthorne, Calif. Akor, 33, has a personal best of 2:33:50, and won four marathons last year. Like Sawe, she also won the Clico Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon just three weeks ago. Ukrainian Anzhelika Averkova, 40, has a 2:34:50 personal best from 2007, and should contend for both the overall and masters titles. Buzunesh Deba, a 22 year-old Ethiopian who recently moved to Albuquerque, N.M., is also entered. She had a breakthrough season last year, finishing seventh at the ING New York City Marathon in a personal best 2:35:54, then winning the California International Marathon one month later in an even faster time of 2:32:17.

One woman, Caroline Bierbaum-LeFrak, is simply looking for the chance to finally get to a starting line. Bierbaum-Lefrak, 26, of New York City, had trained for last weekend's Myrtle Beach Marathon which was cancelled because of icy weather. The former Heps 10,000m champion from 2005 who now works as an athlete's agent, would like to lower her marathon personal best from 2:46:36.

The course records are 2:20:55 by Simon Sawe and 2:41:46 by Tatiana Titova or Russia, both set in 2009.

By David Monti (c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved; Used with permission