Monday, March 25, 2013

GO! St. Louis Spotlight: Mattie Suver returns to St. Louis in triumph from World Cross Country Championships

Mattie Suver finishes first in the USA Club
Mattie Suver is starting to feel right at home in St. Louis. She finished seventh in February at the USA Cross Country Championships and enjoyed her time here so much that she decided to return two months later for the GO! St. Louis half-marathon April 7. The organizers of GO! have targeted runners like Suver by offering $40,000 in prize money for the half, the fourth-largest payout at the distance in the U.S.

She seems up to the challenge. A member of the American Distance Project, Suver has run 1:13:14 in the half, the second-fastest time in the field. She just returned from Poland, where she finished 26th in the World Cross Country Championships, contributing to the U.S. women's fourth-place finish in the team competition.

Despite her globe-trotting, Suver found time for a quick chat.

What drew you back to St. Louis for the GO! half so soon after the nationals in Forest Park?
"It was kind of in the back of my mind, but I hadn't set my race schedule. ... I was very impressed. Forest Park was a lot bigger than I was expecting. Everybody was super accommodating and treated us like royalty. You want to have a good experience and a good relationship with the race director. They put on such a great event that it was easy to decide to come back."

Any concerns about the GO! half being just two weeks after Worlds, which is "only" an 8K race?
"I think it works out really well. I think the 8K will translate well. Traveling can always be difficult, but I think it's the perfect time before the half and a good little tuneup race."

How much did the $10,000 first prize factor into your decision to race here?
"That would more than double my biggest payday. It played a pretty big factor. I don't work, so running is how I make a living. It's kind of cool to put the emphasis on prize money."

So, how is the life of an up-and-comer runner?
"This last year was the first that I put 100 percent into it since college (at Eastern Washington University in 2008). Since college, I had been trying to work and coach myself. But I decided I didn't want to have any regrets. I have a passion for running and don't want to look back in regret."

Do you see a long-term place for events like GO!, which offer large prize money, rather than appearance fees for one top-name athlete?
"Right now, only the top-tier athletes are making money. The rest try to get by and do it because they love it. This should make the half-marathon a real race. Just getting this out there can only make it better for the sport."

What's next?
"I plan to get back on the track. I have run there since college. It costs a lot to travel to those races. It's a big risk, but I'm excited to get back and see what I can do there.

Follow Mattie on twitter: @suver2

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