I’ve known Richard Clark Fannin for years as Elite Athlete Coordinator for our USA 15K National Championships in Jacksonville, FL. Like most of our USATF volunteers, he does it out of his love for the sport. Relatively young (in his forties) for someone that already is nearing two decades of service. I’m following his feed with Great Interest lately, he’s crafting perhaps the deepest half marathon field I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. The JaxBank Half will be held January 3rd as one of the last (and most perfectly timed) opportunities to qualify for the USA Olympic Trials Marathon. Richard took time out of his busy schedule to take a phone call yesterday.
Will: This is an amazing field you are putting together, how did this materialize so quickly?
Richard: We were setting around several weeks ago considering all of the athletes that were so very close to the half standard, on the bubble, and decided to offer them the opportunity to come together in their pursuit.
Will: Not an easy thing to do, how did you get your community and sponsors to support such a grand vision?
Richard: One of the keys to this event is that we are really not into a grand production. JaxBank has never had an elite field before this year. We wanted to offer a last chance without the pressure and hype surrounding some of the other big races. Low pressure, low key sometimes produces the best results. No expo, no speaking engagements, just show up, hang out, and get the job done at the gun.
Will: Looking at your field, 48 invited women, 63 invited men, is like reading a who’s who of developing American talent. How in the world can you afford such an assembly?
Richard: It’s really been a grass roots effort. There is no money for travel. All that has been offered is a waived entry, meals, and shared hotel room, up to 3-4 athletes in each at our host hotel, a local, no frills arrangement.
Will: The scheduling is spot on, 6 weeks out from the Trials.
Richard: Right. There will be other opportunities to qualify, most notably Houston Half a couple of weeks after JaxBank. But we felt the additional two weeks would work most favorably for the athletes. And many agree.
Will: There are a lot of names on the list that have already achieved their qualifiers, what is bringing them to Jacksonville?
Richard: It speaks to the American distance running community. Many of them have committed to the event in order to help their buddies get the standard or as to serve as pacers. The flat as a pancake course is also an opportunity for them to turn in a final good effort prior to their own Olympic Trials dreams.
Will: What are your current course records?
Richard: Neil McDonagh, 1:04:19 in 2010 and Alissa McKaig, 1:14:02 in 2011.
Will: Are the athletes also competing for a decent payday?
Richard: Another thing that speaks so highly to the support by the athletes is that we are offering only a $500 first prize to the first male and female. We will however be giving each and every athlete that meets the standard (sub 1:05 and sub 1:15) a $300 stipend and recognize them at our awards ceremony with the gift of an American Flag. Really a throwback to old school racing where runners showed up and raced for the competition.
Will: I want to thank you Richard for everything you do for American Distance Running.
Richard: There’s still a few of us Will, that care enough! Keep up your good work!
**Editor’s note Tanner Fruit was added earlier this week and Mason Frank has been offered just this morning.
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