USA Half-Marathon Championships : http://bit.ly/14JIpPB
USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships http://bit.ly/178w2Aj
For Boulder runner Tyler McCandless, this weekend will show just how deep the field is for American running.
With the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minn., and the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, this weekend, the "who's who" of American runners are on display.
"If you accumulate a whole year's worth of data and look at results, that'll show the depth, but if you show the depth on one weekend with great half-marathon competition and great competition on the track, you can see America's come a long way since previous years," he said.
McCandless and other Boulder-based runners will join runners like Allyson Felix and Tyson Gay, made famous by the summer Olympics in London, this weekend.
University of Colorado alum Kara Goucher, who won the half-marathon title last year, headed to the track instead to run the 10,000-meter race. She finished in fifth in 32 minutes, 59.23 seconds on Thursday night.
CU's Shalaya Kipp finished 13th in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase first round Thursday to qualify for Saturday's final. She finished in 10:7.75.
CU's Aric VanHalen and former Buff Billy Nelson will compete in the first round of the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase today. Dathan Ritzenhein competed in the 10,000-meter men's race and finished second in 28:49.66. Galen Rupp won in 28:47.32.Buffs assistant coach Casey Malone will compete today in discus throw finals.
CU alum and sprinter Jeremy Dodson, who now trains with the Boulder Track Club and lives in Broomfield, will run the 200-meter sprint, while fellow Buff alum and club teammate Laura Thweatt compete in the 5,000.
Dodson, who's faced legal troubles the last two years including pleading guilty to identity theft and stalking charges, said he's hoping for a top-three finish and a spot on the U.S. world championships team.
"I just use it as motivation," Dodson said of his legal troubles. "Everyone goes through it and this is mine."
Two weeks ago, Dodson said he fell during practice, injuring his wrist, neck and head. He said he still doesn't feel 100 percent after the fall, which is "frustrating."
Thweatt, a 2011 CU graduate, recently ran the Bolder Boulder for Team USA and said she'd like to finish top 10 in the 10,000-meter race at nationals.
"It's been a really great year for me," Thweatt said. "I've developed some strength that I haven't had in years past and I'm hoping to go out there and be in the mix."
McCandless and his training partner under coach Steve Jones, Deanna Ardrey, will both head to the half-marathon championships. CU alum Andy Wacker, among other Boulder competitors, will also race in Duluth.
Ardrey, 30, learned about a month ago she was anemic, but has been taking iron supplements and said feels almost back to normal.
"It's a really deep field, a very competitive field, so I hope to be right there and compete the best I can," she said.
Ardrey said she has her eyes on the USA Marathon Championships in the fall, where she hopes to have a breakthrough performance. In addition to training, Ardrey works full time while going to school at Metro State.
Her training partner McCandless said he's changed up his training a bit, focusing on quality of miles rather than quantity. He said he still averages about 100 miles a week, but eliminated extra core and weight training workouts.
Realistically, McCandless said he expects to finish around 10th place, given how deep the field is this year. McCandless is coming off a confidence boosting Bolder Boulder race after running for Team Colorado. He also finished the comprehensive exams required for his doctorate program in meteorology, which he's working on through Penn State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Unfortunately, there's no Folsom finish to give him a finishing push in Duluth, McCandless said, but he's confident he'll run well at the half-marathon championships.
"Assuming the weather is perfect, I am in shape to crush my PR, which is 1:04.59," McCandless said.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.