Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Alison Wade
New event in San Diego will be open to qualifiers only.
Superhero Events, DMSE Sports (headed by Dave McGillivray), and HAWI Management (headed by Merhawi Keflezighi, Meb’s brother) have joined forces to create the USA Half Marathon Invitational, which will debut November 21, 2015, in San Diego, California. The event will be open to time qualifiers only and will feature prize money for five-year age groups for ages 15 to 75+.
The annual road race best known for its qualifying standards is the Boston Marathon, but some other races, like the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the NYC Half Marathon, to name a few, also have qualifying times for gaining guaranteed entry.
Qualifier-only races open to non-elite runners are rare, as even a significant portion of the Boston Marathon field is made up of non-qualifers. The National Marathon in Washington, D.C., used a similar model beginning in 2006, but the Competitor Group bought the event in 2011, renamed it the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon, and eliminated the qualifying times. Rhode Island’s Gansett Marathon is qualifier-only, but it did not take place in 2014 and no race date is set for 2015.
Ken Nwadike, once a 3:43 1,500 meter runner, came up with the idea for the event partially with the goal of “keeping the competitiveness alive in our sport.” He said that while fun runs are great, “I felt there needs to be some balance.” He hopes that the event’s qualifying standards will inspire competitors to go after their PRs at the event, or perhaps run a PR in order to qualify to participate.
The event’s qualifying times are graded based on age and gender. To gain entry into the sub-elite division, the division eligible for prize money, a male in the 15–29 age group must run 1:10 for a half marathon or faster, but the standard for the competitive division is significantly slower at 1:45. A woman in the 15–29 age group would need to run 1:20 or faster to be considered sub-elite, and 1:55 or faster to gain entry into the competitive division. Nwadike expects that the event’s qualifying times will become more strict in future years, as the demand for participation increases.
Nwadike hopes that the event’s beautiful location and unique nature will make it a destination race for competitors throughout the U.S. and beyond. “We’d really like to see the best of the best from all over traveling here to compete,” he said.
Nwadike is hoping that will include top elite runners as well, and notes that Merhawi Keflezighi’s association with the race should help with the race’s elite outreach efforts. He said that recruitment for the 2015 event may be more challenging because of the upcoming Olympic year, but he still expects to bring in a quality field.
The prize money for the top three men and women overall is $3000/$2000/$1000, while the top three in each age group will earn $300/$200/$100. Nwadike said that with the right sponsors on board in future years, he’d love to see the prize money increase.
While the event is similar to Boston in that it has qualifying standards and the same race director in McGillivray, Nwadike is careful about comparing the two beyond that, at this point.
“It would be nice to live up to that title but those are very big shoes to fill,” he said. “In the future, it would be nice to kind of carve its own space as a qualifiers’ half marathon that people truly view as a world class event.”