Poltavska returns 12 years later to defend Q-C Marathon title | Local Running Events and News



A title defense a dozen years in the making highlights the elite women’s field released Monday for the Sept. 23 TBK Bank Quad-Cities Marathon.

Ukraine’s Valentyna Poltavska, the event’s 2005 champion, tops the list of runners returning to vie for the 26.2-mile crown at the 21st annual bi-state race, which starts and finishes at John Deere Commons.

The men’s commitments will be released in the next week, according to Ian Frink, the QCM’s long-time elite runner coordinator.

Now 47, this is Poltavska’s first trip back to the area since surviving hot and humid conditions to win in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 35 seconds. The 2004 QCM runner-up was prevented from returning to defend her title in 2006 by travel visa troubles.

Poltavska’s 2:39:34 runner-up finish in better weather still ranks sixth on the QCM’s all-time list of best performances, not far from the record 2:35:07 set in 2012 by Ethiopia’s Hirut Guangul.

Already this year, Poltavska has won Masters division titles at Green Bay (2:52:44) and Minnesota’s Grandma’s (2:48:16) marathons. She won the overall title last year at Detroit (2:49:52).

“I’m amazed with how fast she’s still running. She’s still consistently within five minutes of her winning time here 13 years ago,” Frink said. “She’s the odds-on favorite in the Masters if she doesn’t win the whole darn thing again.”

However, Poltavska must contend with a much better field than in 2005.

Of the 13 committed runners, six have run under 2:50 including Kenyan’s Joan Massah and Doreen Kitaka, and Ethiopia’s Meseret Basa.

Massah (2:46:53) and Kitaka (2:51:00) finished 2-3 in last year’s QCM. Massah also won last year’s Des Moines (2:42:43) and Lincoln Marathons (2:48:22) and she registered a personal-best in June at Grandma’s (2:44:02).

Kitaka’s PR came at the 2017 Lagos Marathon (2:43:49). Basa, whose best is 2:44:40 at the 2017 Richmond Marathon, finished fifth last year at QCM and third in 2016.

A pair of Americans also should be in the mix — South Carolina’s Shawanna White and Michigan’s Dani Steinbacher. White was third earlier this year at Newport News (2:45:19); Steinbacher owns a 2:47:16 from the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Ethiopia’s Alem Ashebir has the best PR in the field, but that 2:37:08 came in the 2007 Singapore Marathon.

Ethiopian Belayinesh Fikadu is not defending her title after clocking 2:42:11 last fall.

“We have a lot more depth than we’ve had in years past,” Frink said. “There’s not anybody alone on the top end, but having a group in the mid 2:40s is nice, and on the fringe of that are some others who have run good half-marathon times that I could see running in the lead pack, too.”

Frink also is excited about the half-marathon field where Colorado’s Brittany Charboneau owns the top seed (1:17:37) from a win earlier this year from the Disney Half Marathon. She also clocked 2:36:25 to finish sixth at the 2018 Los Angeles Marathon.

Chicagoans Jane Bareikis (1:17:55) and Kristin Johnson (1:18:53) also have run under 1:20. The course record is 1:14:23, set by Chicago’s Laura Batterink in 2014. Last year’s winner was another Illinoisan, Julie Crutchfield, with a 1:26:19 on a hot and humid race day.

“We’d like to have Brittany in the full field,” Frink said. “But she and a couple of others will push the pace. I don’t think we’ll see a record, but it could be a real exciting finish.”


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