2022 Quincy Cass Associates Marathon Challenge
The Quincy Cass Associates Marathon Challenge is a winner-take-all competition that pays the first runner to cross the Marathon’s finish line – male or female -- $10,000. It revives the competition between the women’s and men’s elite runners in the Los Angeles Marathon that existed under various names from 2004-2014. During that 11-year span, women held a 7-4 advantage over the men.
To facilitate the challenge, the women’s Pro starting time will be set based on the expected men’s and women’s winning times estimated at approximately 18-minutes before the men’s Pro start. This head start on the men’s elite field should put the top female and top male runners within seconds of each other heading into the final mile. The first runner to reach the finish line will receive a $10,000 bonus.
This will play out live on local television KTLA Channel 5, as well as streaming on KTLA.com and KTLA+ digital channels.
Runner Profiles: WOMEN
Martha Akenoa, 28, Kenya/Mosheim
Martha won the 2022 Miami Marathon on Feb. 6, running a 2:29:00 in 90% humidity.
2:33:25 marathon (2020, Sofia, Bulgaria)
1:10 half marathon (2015, Trento, Italy)
Liz Camy-Blackwell, 39, Los Angeles
Liz, who ran collegiately for Cal State Northridge, has run a 2:43 marathon on two occasions and competed in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. To get her training in, she gets up between 3:30-3:50 am almost every morning and runs before the sun rises. Then she heads back home to get her 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son ready for school before heading to her job as an assistant principal at a Ventura County school that educates students with autism. “Obviously I love to train for races and the carrot of accountability it provides, but honestly it’s just to set my mind right every morning and for my social/emotional health,” she says.
Kali Cavey, 29, U.S.
2:59:56 marathon (2019, California International Marathon)
Caili Colquitt, 27, Boston
Caili Colquitt owns a 2:44:23 marathon PR, which qualified her for the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta in 2020. In 2021, she won the Santa Rosa Marathon (2:52:22) and also ran the Boston Marathon in October. Colquitt, 27, ran collegiately at The Citadel in her hometown of Charleston, S.C. She’s based in Boston, where she’s going to physical therapy school and running for Heartbreak Hill Running Company’s Nike Flyer team. “I love LA and I’m super excited about seeing the city and running through it,” she says. “Los Angeles is absolutely my favorite city, and I am planning on moving out there after finishing school.”
Biruktayit Eshetu, 31, Ethiopia
Biruktayit returns to the Los Angeles Marathon after a seven-year hiatus since her 4th place effort in 2014 (2:31:16). She’s recorded numerous podium finishes at marathons around the world since her debut at the distance in 2009 at the age of 19, but her biggest success has come at the Houston Marathon, where she won three times and place among the top three every year from 2015-2020. Her personal best of 2:22:40 was set in 2019 while finishing second in Toronto. In 2021, she ran a new PR in the 10,000m on the track (32:19.31) in the spring, and then placed 9th in the Boston Marathon (2:29:05) last fall.
Sammi Groce, 28, San Diego
Since picking up running in her adult life, Sammi has run three marathons and improved in each one, including a victory at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon last October in 2:50:30. She works as a server in a restaurant in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood and trains with the San Diego Track Club Elite training group. She admits she’s going to have her work cut out for her running against some faster women in the elite women’s field, but she’s ready to give it a go. “It will be fun to have some tough competition out there, and just go out as hard as I can and try and hold on and have fun with it,” she says.
Sarah Kiptoo, 33, Kenya/SantaFe, NM
Sarah, who splits time between Kenya and Santa Fe, NM, hasn’t raced much since 2019 due to Covid restrictions in 2020 and a calf injury last year, but she’s healthy again and has a big year planned, starting with the Los Angeles Marathon. In 2019, she placed 10th in Grandma’s Marathon (2:38:46), 3rd in the Buffalo Thunder Road Half Marathon (1:14:28) and 1st at the Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque (2:51:28) Her marathon PR of 2:26:32 was set in 2013 while taking the first of her two wins at Grandma’s Marathon. She’s also claimed victories in Cleveland (twice), Casablanca and Philadelphia.
Antonia Kwambai, 29, Kenya
Antonia is returning to the Los Angeles Marathon this year after finishing a hard-fought second last year in 2:37:35. But she arrived in LA last fall just three weeks after placing 7th at the Paris Marathon in 2:27:25 and eight weeks after placing third at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler (52:23). In April of 2021, she set her marathon PR of 2:24:20 at the Xiamen Marathon in Siena, Italy.
Regina Lopez, 31, Monrovia, CA
Regina is a native of Los Angeles who not only runs marathons but ultra-distance races, too. She owns at 2:42:06 marathon PR, a time that qualified her for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. She’s also won the 2020 Pasadena Half Marathon (1:18:58), won the 2019 Spartan Trail 21K U.S. Championship, placed second at the 2021 U.S. 50K Road Championships and fourth in this year’s U.S. 50K Road Championships in late February. Five weeks after the Los Angeles Marathon, she’ll be competing in the U.S. 100K Road Championships in Madison, WI.
Mezeret Gezahegn Merine, 27, Ethiopia
2:34:54 marathon (2019, Toulouse, France)
Delvine Meringor, 29, Kenya/Romania
While Delvine has had good results at the half marathon, she’s only finished one marathon in her career. That came last April when she ran 2:24:32 while placing 6th at the Xiamen Marathon in Tuscany, Italy. She’s run numerous half marathons under 1:10, including her PR of 1:07:48 that she set in Houston in 2019. Last year, Delvine became a Romanian citizen with the hopes of earning the opportunity to compete in more global championships, but she did not compete for her new country at the Tokyo Olympics.
Amanda Phillips, 35, Ashland, OR
Amanda is a full-time school teacher who had a breakthrough year in 2021 with a 2:36:30, 15th-place finish at the Chicago Marathon just a few weeks after she lowered her half marathon PR to 1:12:46. She made those improvements training mostly on her own as a self-coached runner, but now she’s associated with the newly formed Cascadia Elite training group under the guidance of coach Travis Floeck. Phillips qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and hopes to earn her 2024 OTQ in Los Angeles. Most recently, she ran a very impressive time (1:13:44) on a very challenging course to win the Austin Half Marathon on Feb. 20.
Caroline Rotich, 37, Kenya/SantaFe, NM
Caroline is a native of Kenya who has lived and trained in Santa Fe, N.M., since 2009. She’s run under 2:25 on four occasions, including her 2:23:22 PR at Chicago in 2012. Her biggest breakthrough came in 2015 when she won the Boston Marathon in one of the most exciting finishes in race history as she outdueled Ethiopian Mare Dibiba and American Desi Linden in the final miles to win in 2:24:55. Two years ago, she lowered her half marathon PR to 1:08:53 with a 7th-place showing at the Houston Half Marathon. Most recently Rotich placed 11th at the Boston Marathon (2:29:54) last fall.
Belainesh Shifera Yigezu, 34, Ethiopia
2:31:08 marathon (2015, Barcelona, Spain)
2:44:00 marathon (2019, Marathon, Pune, Indonesia)
Runner Profiles: MEN
Raul Arcos, 32, Corona, CA
1:08:35 half marathon (2013, Long Beach Half Marathon)
2:21:58 marathon (2018, California International Marathon)
Elisha Kiprop Barno, 37, Kenya
Elisha has been around for a long time, but he’s still at the top of his game judging by his 2:11:16, third-place finish at the Houston Marathon in January. He’s run the Los Angeles Marathon four times (2017-2020) and won it (2017 in 2:11:52 and 2:11:47 in 2019) and also won Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN, four consecutive times from 2015-2018. His 2:09:32 marathon PR was set in Houston in 2018. He’s a longtime training partner of Dominic Ondoro.
Berhanu Bekele Berga, 40, Ethiopia
Berhanu burst on the scene with a pair of 2:09 marathons in 2011 in Dubai and Italy. He was a consistent 2:10-2:14 performer for the next several years, but then popped a 2:06:41 PR at age 37 while finishing 3rd in Seville, Spain in 2019.
Chad Beyer, 35, Tempe, AZ
Although he has more than a dozen years of elite-level cycling under his belt, Chad is fairly new to running. “When I was racing professionally as a cyclist, I really didn’t enjoy running at all,” he says. “But I found running after I retired and was working a normal 9 to 5 job and needed something to stay in shape, and running was a great way to do that. I really enjoy it now, and it’s a really fun challenge.” Beyer is a full-time cycling coach and still mixes cycling into training, but he’s fully committed to trying to break 2:18 to qualify for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. He’s coming off a fourth-place finish at the Feb. 12 Mesa Marathon in Arizona, where he ran a PR of 2:24:59.
Kevin Bohn, 38, Germany
2:29:58, 2021, Berlin Marathon
Dirian Bonilla, 35, Nicaragua
2:23:06 marathon (2019, Santa Monica)
Eric Bowles, 36, Santa Monica, CA
2:24:44 (2021, California International Marathon)
Fernando Cabada, 39, Aurora, CO
Fernando, who grew up near Fresno and lives in the Denver area, is a three-time U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier with a 2:11:36 marathon PR and a 1:02:00 half-marathon PR. He’s had a along career that included stints competing for three different schools and winning two U.S. titles as a professional. What’s amazing is that he’s 39 and still running very fast, having placed 4th overall at the recent Mesa 10K (30:46) in Arizona. He placed third in the U.S. 50K Championships last summer (31 miles in 2:55) and plans on running another fast 50K in early April five weeks after the marathon. “I’m from California and have never run the Los Angeles Marathon, so I’m not thinking about it with stress or pressure,” he says. “I’m going to run the best I can and put in a good hard effort.”
John Guchu, 29, Kenya
Dominic Henriques, 35, Reno, NV
2:29:12 (2021, California International Marathon)
Edwin Kiplagat Kimutai, 29, Kenya
Edwin returns to Los Angeles after placing second last year (2:18:01) to countryman John Korir (2:12:47). But last year he arrived in town only three weeks after finishing 13th in the Paris Marathon (2:09:11). His fastest marathon of 2021 came in May, when he set his new PR of 2:08:15 while placing 4th at the Geneva Marathon in Switzerland. He owns the fastest marathon PR in this year’s field, as well as the fastest half-marathon PR (1:00:57, 2017). Very sadly, Edwin’s late wife, Yvonne (Jelegat) Mora died last August from a blood clot. He dedicated his commanding win at the Cherry Blossom Run 10-miler (45:45) on Sept. 12 in Washington D.C. to her.
John Korir, 25, Kenya
John returns to Los Angeles after a decisive victory last year in 2:12:47. His win avenged a heart-breaking loss in 2019 when he took the lead late in the race only to be passed by Elisha Barno with 150 meters to go en route to winning the race for the second time while Korir finished second (2:11:53). Last year, Korir again made a strong move near the 20-mile mark but this time he built a 90-second lead by Mile 23 and held on for victory. Korir’s PR of 2:09:14 was set at the Ottawa Marathon in 2018, but he looks to be in tip-top shape this year based on his second-place finish at the Houston Half Marathon in January, where he lowered his PR to 1:00:27.
Kevin Lewis, 28 Richfield, MN
Kevin ran collegiately for the University of Iowa and now runs professionally for the Minnesota Distance Elite training group. He’s a software developer who owns a 2:12:02 marathon personal best (The Marathon Project in 2020) and a 1:02:48 PR in the half marathon (Houston, 2020). Kevin ran well at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (2:17:36) and is hoping to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Trials by breaking the 2:18 qualifying standard. He placed 21st at last fall’s New York City Marathon and is coming off a strong performance at the March 5th Gate River Run/USATF 15K Championships in Jacksonville, Florida, where he placed 23rd and lowered his PR to 45:27 (4:53 mile pace).
Tyler McCandless, 35, Fort Collins, CO
In addition to being a very good runner, Tyler holds a PhD in Meteorology and works as a Certified Energy Risk Professional. He has been one of the most consistent marathoners in the U.S. over the past five years, having run his PR of 2:12:28 as the runner-up at the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento in 2017, placing 11th in 2:14:57 at the Los Angeles Marathon in 2019 and returning to CIM last year to place 6th in 2:14:10. Coached by former marathon world record holder Steve Jones, McCandless is hoping to run a competitive race and record a sub-2:18 qualifying mark for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. If he does it, it would give him a chance to run in his fourth U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
Myles Matsuno, 36, Altadena, CA
2:30:46 marathon (2021, California International Marathon)
Erick Mose, 35, Kenya/Toluca, Mexico
Winner of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon, 2:09:44
3rd place, 2014 Los Angeles Marathon, 2:12:56
Winner of 2011 California International Marathon
Lamech Mosoti Mokono, 40, Kenya
2:13:28 marathon (2012, Grandma’s Marathon)
John Mugambi, 29, Kenya
30:16 10K (2019, Standard Chartered Nairobi Half-Marathon & 10-K, Nairobi)
Gizachew Hailu Negasa, 23, Ethiopia
Negasa hasn’t really competed much since 2020 because of Covid travel restrictions, but he ran three marathons in 2019, including his 2:09:26 PR while placing 8th in Barcelona. He also set his half-marathon PR in 2021 with a 1:01:33 clocking on Morocco. In 2020, he placed second at the Lanzhou International Marathon in China in 2:12:02.
Scott Olberding, 33, Portland, OR
Scott, who works full-time as an international controller for Columbia Sportswear in Portland, has his sights set on getting closer to the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifying standard of 2:18. He set his 2:24:57 PR in 2019 at the California International Marathon and ran 2:27:17 in the hot conditions in Chicago last fall. At times he has been training with his wife, Eleanor Fulton, a national-class 1,500m runner.
Dominic Ondoro, 34, Kenya
Although he hasn’t raced much for the past two years, Ondoro has had a long, successful career as a marathon runner with 10 victories under his belt. He’s a four-time winner of the Twin Cities Marathon (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) and holds the course record of 2:08:51 (2016). He also won the Melbourne Marathon in Australa (2013, 2014), Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN, in 2014 (2:09:06) and the Houston Marathon in 2017 (2:12:05). His marathon PR of 2:08:00 was set at the See Genezareth Marathon in 2013, the same year he set his half-marathon PR of 1:01:45 in Lille, France. He and Elsha Barno are long-time training partners.
Zane Robertson, 32, Iten Kenya/New Zealand
Zane is a two-time Olympian and the New Zealand national record-holder in the half marathon (59:47, 2015) and the marathon (2:08:19, 2019). At age 17, after graduating high school, he and his twin brother, Jake, moved to Iten, Kenya, to train with elite distance runners. The plan worked well, as they emerged as world-class runners in their own right a few years later and are still living and training there most of the year. Zane placed 12th in the 10,000-meter run (27:33) at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and finished 36th in the marathon at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics (2:17:04). He ran the Los Angeles Marathon in 2020, placing 10th in 2:15:17.
David Too, 25, Kenya/Tallahassee, FL
David made his marathon debut a memorable one last October when beat an experienced field to win the IMT Des Moines Marathon. Too is pursuing a master’s degree in sports management at Florida A&M, where he also went to school as an undergrad before transferring to Iowa State from 2019-2021. Just three months after completing his eligibility at Iowa State with a 17th-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Too won the Quad Cities Half Marathon in 1:06:07 on Sept. 26.
Taggart VanEtten, 26, Morton, IL
Taggart has one of the most wide-ranging backgrounds in our elite field this year, with six solid years as a triathlete and a recent foray into 100-mile ultrarunning. He owns a respectable 4:16 PR for an Ironman 70.3 triathlon and last May smashed the 100-mile treadmill world record with an 11:32:05 effort (or 6:55 per mile for 100 miles). On the roads, he owns a 1:10:05 half marathon PR, a 2:22:32 marathon PR and a 12:19:54 100-mile PR, but he also recently ran a 29:45 10K and a 1:05 half marathon on his treadmill — where he does most of his training. “It still takes an adjustment for me to focus on the marathon, but honestly, a marathon feels short to me,” he says.
For complete FAQ on the Elite & Age Group program, including how to enter click here.