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Spotlight on RRCA’s Elite Grantees Heading to the Olypmpic Trials Marathon

In September 2015, the RRCA announced the recipients of its one-time special grants to support U.S. distance training centers and elite U.S. athletes as they prepare for competition heading into the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon to be hosted in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 13.  As the field continues to change leading up to the event with the withdrawal of several big names, including Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdarhman, the RRCA looks to its grantees to earn a spot on Team U.S.A. 

The RRCA is proud to note that 34 athletes entered into the Olympic Trials Marathon have received direct financial support through Roads Scholar grants or the 2016 Elite Grant Project. Sixteen athletes have attended RunProCamp, and 18 athletes have received indirect support via RRCA grants to U.S. distance training centers.

Josphat Boit
Josphat Boit is one of the world’s premier distance runners. He made his marathon debut at the 2011 Honolulu Marathon, placing an impressive third in a field stacked with sub- 2:08 runners. He’s now a favorite to contend for a place on the 2016 U.S. Marathon team. Boit currently lives and trains in the high altitude of Mammoth Lakes, CA with the Mammoth Track Club under the guidance of his coach, Andrew Kastor. Boit enters the Olympic Marathon Trials with a PR of 2:12:52, set at the 2014 Boston Marathon. www.asicsamerica.com/athletes/josphat-boit

Aaron Braun
Aaron Braun has had an impressive career on the roads, dominating at a variety of dis- tances. He made his marathon debut at the LA Marathon in 2014, finishing seventh in 2:19:51. In 2015 he significantly dropped his time in the distance and placed seventh at the Chevron Houston Marathon with a time of 2:12:54, where he was the top American finisher. www.aabrauny.com

Jeffrey Eggleston
Jeffrey Eggleston has been a consistent performer since receiving his first Roads Scholar grant from the RRCA in 2010. He’s been a fixture on U.S. national teams, running at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships and the 2011 Pan-American Games. In 2015 he finished 12th at the 2015 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:14:17. In 2014 Eggleston set his PR of 2:10:52 at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, making him one of the fastest grantees going into the Trials. www.jeffreyeggleston.com

Craig Leon
Craig Leon was born and raised in a small Ohio town and moved to Eugene in the summer of 2011 to pursue his professional running career with Team Run Eugene. He’s consistently excelled on the roads and earned a spot representing the U.S. at the 2015 Pan- Am Games in Toronto. Leon finished fifth in the race, with a time of 2:19:26. He enters the Olympic Trials Marathon with a PR of 2:13:52, set at the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. www.craigleonrunning.com

Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan has trained at the Han- sons-Brooks ODP since the early days of his professional career, when he received his 2005 Roads Scholar grant. He ran an impressive 2:15:11 in his debut marathon at the Chicago Marathon in 2006. In 2014 Morgan took 13th place at the Boston Marathon, with a time of 2:14:40. He’s the champion and course record holder for the 2013 and 2014 Disney World Half Marathon. Morgan, who averages 100+ miles weekly in his training leading up to the marathon, is looking for- ward to his third Olympic Trials. He enters the event with a marathon PR of 2:14:20. www.hansons-running.com/hansons-brooks/ meet-the-team

Sean Quigley
Sean Quigley runs for the high-performance team with the Boulder Track Club under coach Lee Troop. Quigley was the U.S. 7-Mile Road Champion in 2014 and placed fourth at the U.S. Track Championship 10K that same year. He qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon at the Fukuoka Marathon, where he finished with a marathon PR of 2:13:30. www.bouldertrackclub.com/development-elite/sean-quigley

Annie Bersagel
Annie Bersagel lives and trains in Oslo, Norway, where she’s lived since pursuing graduate studies at the University of Oslo. In 2013 Bersagel became the U.S. Marathon Champion at the Twin Cities Marathon, with a winning time of 2:30:53. Bersagel set her marathon PR in 2015 by winning the Duesseldorf Marathon in 2:28:29. In June she underwent surgery for a knee injury acquired there, but recently finished a half marathon in Dallas pain free and now looks forward to being a contender at this year’s Trials. www.twitter.com/AnnieBersagel

Esther (Erb) Atkins
Esther Atkins (formerly Erb) took a different path than most to her eventual marathon success. She was one of the most decorated runners in Case Western Reserve history, earning six All-American titles and the 2008 DIII National Championship in the 10K. Shortly after receiving her Roads Scholar grant in 2014, she was on the podium as the 2014 USA Marathon Champion, with a time of 2:34:00, earning a spot on the 2015 World Championships marathon team. Atkins runs with the New York Athletic Club and is looking forward to the loop course at the marathon trials. www.athletebiz.us/esther-atkins

Heather Lieberg
Heather Lieberg is a proud mother of two, who lives, trains, and teaches school in Helena, MT. She’s currently sponsored by Oiselle. She played basketball in college and didn’t take up competitive road running until 2006, when she entered her first race, taking second place. Since that time she’s seen steady success on the roads. Lieberg competed at the 2014 USA Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon, where she took second place behind Esther Atkins, with a time of 2:34:09. In 2015 she again finished second at the USA Marathon Champion- ships at the LA Marathon. Later in 2015 she ran as a member of the U.S. World Team at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in the marathon in Beijing. www.twitter.com/lieberg_heather

Wendy Thomas
Wendy Thomas took up running in 2004 as a way to get back into shape following the birth of her first child. She entered her first road race in 2007 and won. Thomas went on to train with the American Distance Project for a short time before the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where she had a breakout race, finishing 12th overall with a time of 2:34:25 in her debut marathon. In 2014 she was fourth at the USA Half Marathon Championships, with a time of 1:12:29, which qualified her to compete at the World Half Championship in Copenhagen, representing Team USA. Thomas, who says the marathon is her favorite event, has been looking forward to the 2016 Trials since crossing the finish line at the 2012 Trials. www.twitter.com/wingedwendy

Rebecca Wade
Becky Wade is a Dallas native, who ran on the track team for Ursuline Academy and Rice University in Houston. In 2008 she placed 13th in the steeplechase at the World Junior Championships in Poland. As a fifth-year senior, she qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters and the steeplechase. She was a four-time All-American at Rice, where she set school records in the indoor and outdoor 5K, outdoor 10K, and 3K steeplechase. She qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters and the steeplechase. In 2013 Wade won her debut marathon, the California International Marathon, with a time of 2:30:41. After returning from an injury, she ran the 2015 USA Half Marathon, placing 11th, with a time of 1:12:28. www.beckyrunsaway.wordpress.com

Lauren Kleppin
Lauren Kleppin currently lives in Flagstaff, AZ and runs for HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite under coach Ben Rosario. In 2012 she received a Roads Scholar grant from the RRCA shortly after graduating from Western State College as a nine-time All-American, two-time MVP, and the Paul W. Wright Athlete of the Year for 2011–12. The following year she attended RRCA’s RunPro Camp and shortly thereafter started training with the Mammoth Track Club until her move to Flagstaff in 2015. Most notably Kleppin is known for her third-place overall finish and top American at the 2014 LA Marathon, with a time of 2:28:48. She also earned second place overall at the USA Half Marathon Championships in 2014 with a time of 1:12:12. Unfortunately Kleppin has been forced to withdraw from the Olympic Trials Marathon due to injury.  The RRCA has been a strong supporter of Kleppin and is working with her to apply the grant funds to either future Roads Scholars or her future training endeavors. www.laurenkleppin.com

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