Sunday, March 24, 2013

GO! St. Louis Spotlight: Aaron Braun goes for GO! prize

Aaron Braun
We're getting ever closer to the GO! St. Louis Family Fitness Weekend, April 6 and 7. The second day will feature the same three events as usual: marathon, half-marathon and marathon relay. But the organizers are trying a bold experiment, offering $40,000 in prize money for the half-marathon. First prize is $10,000 each for the top man and woman at the distance. The purse is the fourth-largest for a half-marathon in the U.S., and some of the best up-and-comers in the country have taken the bait. 

Among them is Aaron Braun, 25, a member of McMillan Elite, based in Flagstaff, Ariz. Braun was the 2010 USATF National Club Cross Country champion and the runner-up in 2011 and 2012, the last of which was held in St. Louis. He finished fifth in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters in a personal best 27:41.54 and has the fastest half-marathon time in the GO! field, 1:02.. We caught up with Aaron awhile ago and wanted to share the interview with you.

What factors contributed to deciding to compete here?

"I had known that I wanted to start my season with some kind of long road race in late March or early April. I ran my first half marathon in Houston in January, and really preferred to be able to find a half marathon to give that distance another try. Therefore finding the half marathon in St Louis the first week of April fit perfectly in to what I was looking for. Then when I started looking more into the details of the race, I got more and more excited about it; and eventually decided to commit to doing the race."

How much, if at all, did your experience at the USA Cross Country Championships factor into your decision?

"I wouldn't say racing in the US Cross Country Championships in St Louis last Febuary played a huge role in deciding to do this race; but it was something when trying to decide to commit that was a good factor. I had a good time competing in St Louis last February;and was impressed with th support of the fans for  the race even though last year there was not going to be a world Cross Country Championship afterwards. I'm just hoping the weather will be a little bit nicer this time around."

Based on your experience here, what are your impressions of St. Louis, as a runner-friendly city?

"I'd definitely say St Louis is a runner friendly city. Like I said above, I was impressed with the size and support of the crowds at the Cross Country Championships; also I was really impressed with the number of people who ran in the citizen's races on the course before the US XC Championships."

How does GO! fit into your season program? What's next?

"This will be my first race of the season. My last race was a half marathon in Houston mid January; after that race I took a break and have been slowly building up mileage and workouts since then. After St Louis I will probably do other road races here and there, most likely just 5ks and 10ks though; as my focus will be running track and trying to earn a spot of the US Track team in the 10k going to Moscow, Russia this summer. I think kicking off the season with a competitive half marathon in St Louis is the perfect way to get me to accomplish that goal."

Others expected in the elite athlete field include Matt Llano and Craig Curley as well as past GO! half champions Daniel Kirwa (2012), Josphat Boit (2011) and Mario Macias (2010). The women's field inclues Maegan Krifchin, owns the fastest time in the women's field, 1:10, but will be challenged by Tera Moody, who finished sixth at this year's Houston Marathon; Sarah Kiptoo, 1:14; and Mattie Suver, who represented the U.S. at the World Cross Country Championships today and finished 26th.

A shoutout to the Team USA men, who finished second behind Ethiopia, and Team USA women, who were fourth to the Kenyans.

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