Two area runners head six-person elite group for race

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One year after drawing its largest field, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon announced its American elite field, and it is headlined by two runners from Western Pennsylvania.

The group is led on the female side by Clara Santucci, 27, of Dilliner, Greene County, the top American female in the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, finishing in 2:31:38.

The men’s side will feature Jed Christiansen of Greenville, Mercer County, runner-up in 2013 Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Half-Marathon in 1:06:01.

“I would say that absolutely without a doubt that this is the most impressive American field we’ve ever had in terms of the depth and performance,” marathon chief executive officer Patrice Matamoros said. “The caliber of athletes we have is pretty impressive.”

Other top participants will include Kathleen Jobes of Bethlehem, Pa., the female masters champion at the 2011 Chicago Marathon(2:47:53); Jane Vongvorachoti, 30, a former pro soccer player who had a strong 1:15:24 finish at the 2014 USA Half Marathon Championships in January; 2011 Wipro San Francisco Marathon champion Emily Field; and Richard Morris, who recently set a personal record (2:24:02) in the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon.

Five of those six will be competing in their first Pittsburgh Marathon. Christiansen has run in the marathon and half marathon in the past. A year ago, he was injured around Mile 20 of the race and was forced to drop out.

The May 4 marathon will offer a prize purse of $47,000, along with an additional $26,000 for American competitors as part of the inaugural American Development Program. All six elite runners will be aiming to qualify for a spot at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016.

Craig Meyer: and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.

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