Runners to watch

October 19, 2001

With the help of race director Dave Cooley and marathon elite athlete coordinator Clay Shaw, The Sun scouts some of the top talent at the Baltimore Marathon Festival:

Connie Buckwalter: The 31-year-old from Lancaster, Pa., has made her mark in shorter races and is looking to improve her marathon best of 2:52.

Luka Cherono: Kenyan, 24, made marathon debut in April, running 2:19:45. In 1998, he took third in the Tokyo Half-Marathon in 1:01.38 and had a series of strong races on the New England road circuit before a knee injury sidelined him in 1999 and 2000.

Simon Cherokony: Late addition has run under 2:19 twice. A 29-year-old Kenyan, he lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and runs with the Global Mbio Club, which is sponsored by Saucony.

Josh Cox: The top American finisher in the world championships in Edmonton in August, he'll drop down to the Fila 5K. A 26-year-old with roots in Florida, he is part of Fila's Discovery USA program.

Shannon Grady: Another runner backed by Discovery USA, Grady is expected to contend in the women's 5K. A 4:40 miler at Penn State, she had a succession of wins in San Diego this summer, taking one 5K in 17:30.

Michael Harrison: Among the handful in the marathon field who have run under 2:20, the 34-year-old from Virginia Beach has wins in the Richmond Marathon and the JFK 50-Miler to his credit.

Elvira Kolpakova: The woman to beat in the marathon, the 29-year-old Russian ran her personal best of 2:36 in 1996. She's won marathons in Philadelphia and Cleveland, and ultramarathons around the world.

Sammy Kosgei: In the past 19 months, the 27-year-old Kenyan has run under 2:16 three times, including a personal best of 2:13.29 in Naples last year. He's still looking for his first win, however, as he had a second place and a pair of thirds.

Laura Nelson: The 36-year-old resident of Waynesboro, Va., is a familiar site in the region. She has won 15 marathons - her personal best is 2:51 - and claimed the JFK 50-Miler in Western Maryland three times.

Gennady Temnikov: A 40-year-old from Russia, he has a marathon best of 2:16. Earlier this year, he was third in the Panama City Marathon.

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