ASICS GTC-ELITE 2020 athletes competed in the following locations during an unusual COVID-19 pandemic year:
MARCH - APRIL
- Annie Rodenfels ran a new personal best in the 3,000 meters of 9:24.43 as she won the event at the Orange & Purple Elite meet at Clemson's indoor track facility. The 2019 graduate of Centre College in Kentucky improved her PB by almost 30 seconds as she lapped all of her competition on the 200-meter banked track. Annie covered the first kilometer in 3:06.6 and passed 2K at 6:18.8 (3:12.2) before covering the final 1000 meters in 3:05.6. Her performance is a new ASICS GTC-ELITE program record, besting the 9:28.71 of Kimberly Ruck in 2015.
- Annie Rodenfels ran 16:44 to win the 42nd annual Greenville News Run Downtown 5K. On a cold and grey Saturday morning, Rodenfels ran the second fastest time in the race's long history as she bested Alyssa Bloomquist (who currently leads the South Carolina Road Race Rankings) by ten seconds. Former ASICS GTC-ELITE Kimberly Ruck set the course record of 16:32 in 2015. Eddie Garcia ran his first race since last July's Pan American Games Marathon and placed third with a time of 14:56.
- Joe Niemiec achieved his dream and goal of qualifying for the 2020 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon by running 2:17:23 at the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday morning in the Texas city. He dropped 9 minutes 23 seconds from his debut marathon time of 2:26:46 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Unofficial results show him placing 9th overall and second among USA citizens (2nd American finisher). Joe moved his young family including wife, Jasmin, and three childeren from Michigan to Greenville, SC in 2018 to join the post-collegiate, Olympic-development program and pursue his lofty goal. Unofficial splits from the race indicate that Niemiec passed the 13.1-mile halfway mark in 1:09:12. He maintained a qualifying pace through 35 kilometers and then increased his pace over the final seven kilometers to average 5:15 per mile for the marathon distance (42.2K). Niemiec joins teammates Eduardo Garcia and Cristina McKnight as qualifiers for the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, GA on Feburary 29. His time also is a new program record, besting Garcia's 2:18:50 from the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon.
- The program announced the addition of Mackenzie Donahue. She graduated from a small DII school called Daemen College, where she became their first athlete to qualify for an NCAA DII Championship. She qualified in Cross Country as well as Indoor and Outdoor track. She also became their first athlete to earn All-American (second-team) status. Mackenzie ran 1:17:09 to place sixth in the 2018 Richmond Half Marathon and attempted her first marathon at the 2019 Chicago event and ran 2:54:42. Her running resume also includes track performances of 16:52 for 5,000 meters, 35:35 for 10,000 meters and 54:47 for 15K on the roads. Mackenzie plans to relocate to Greenville to join the post-collegiate, Olympic-development program following her August wedding to long-time boyfriend Greg Lowe.
- Annie Rodenfels ran to her second win in the past two weeks at the Clemson Indoor Track Facility as she recorded a personal best of 9:18.93 in the women's 3,000 meters. She bested her previous personal best of 9:24.43, set on January 11th. In between those two indoor track victories, she also won The Greenville News Run Downtown 5K last weekend.
Annie took the lead from the start and covered the first kilometer in 3:04.5. She passed 1600 meters in 4:58.5, 2,000 at 6:15.1 and closed over the final kilometer in 3:03.8. Wake Forest University's Hannah Brookover finished second with a time of 9:36.68. Rodenfels was less than four seconds off the facility record of 9:15.01 set by the University of North Caroilna's Brie Felnagle in 2007.
- Eduardo Garcia and Cristina McKnight both were victorious at the MCG Long Run 15K on a cold Saturday morning in Columbia, SC. Garcia broke away from Harrison Kirigwi just before the 6-mile mark, after running the fifth mile in 4:34. His finishing time of 46:32 (4:59/mile average) was 27 seconds clear of runner-up Jonathan McGinnis (46:58). McKnight's time of 52:47 broke the South Carolina State record for 15K. The previous record of 53:50 was set way back in 1988 by Megan Othersen. McKnight's time is also a record for the ASICS GTC-ELITE program, besting Dyan Hassett's 53:07 from 2015. Her record-setting effort earned her a $200 bonus in addition to the $500 winner's purse. Joy Miller, a qualifier for the upcoming USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon, as is McKnight, placed second in 53:58. Garcia's time was also a program record, besting Ryan Root's 47:30 from 2017, and also earning Eddie $500 for his win.
- Annie Rodenfels ran 4:54 to win the Lexington Medical Center Governor's Cup Main Street Mile in downtown Columbia, SC on a cold and windy Friday evening. She earned $500 for her efforts. Victor Pataky placed second in the men's division with a time of 4:26 and earned $400.
- On a sunny, but cold, Saturday morning Eddie Garcia ran 1:05:25 over a hilly course to win the Lexington Medical Center Governor's Cup Half Marathon in Columbia, SC. His pace was a quick 5:00 per mile and earned him a nice payday. The overall winner's award was $1250 with additional $300 bonus for first American and $300 for first South Carolinian. He also earned the 2020 Road Runners Club of America South Carolina State Half Marathon championship. It was a personal best by 12 seconds for the former Southeastern Conference 10,000-meter champion while a student at the University of Florida. Eddie is currently ranked first in the South Carolina Road Race Rankings. The time also eclipsed the South Carolina State Record for the Half Marathon (by a SC resident), which was held by Charleston's Michael Banks at 1:05:50 in the 2014 Governor's Cup.
- Cristina McKnight ran to a 49th place finish with a new personal best of 2:40:29 over an undulating course in the 2020 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon on Saturday afternoon. Running in only her second marathon, after debuting in December 2019 at Sacramento's California International Marathon, McKnight passed the halfway mark (13.1 miles) in 1:18:18 before slowing to a positive second-half split of 1:22:11. Her finishing time was 12 seconds faster than her initial marathon. Her 49th place bested her pre-race seed of 128th by a huge margin. There were 390 women finishers of the 510 qualifiers (2:45:00 or better) of which 444 started. Joe Niemiec had a tough day as he struggled to a time of 2:27:50, which was well off his qualifying time of 2:17:23 at last month's Chevron Houston Marathon. He finished 123rd of the 226 starters and 175 finishers and bested his seeding of 126. ASICS GTC-ELITE director Mike Caldwell summed up the day, "Our program goal is always qualifying and competing in national championship and the Olympic Trials. Today, we had two of our marathon rookies compete after qualifying in the either December of 2019 or last month (January). To be able to recover from those qualifying efforts and show up here in Atlanta on a fairly difficult course due to the undulating hills and then battle some very gusty winds is definitely a victory for our athletes and program."
MARCH - APRIL
- NO Competition due to restrictions imposed regarding COVID-19 pandemic.
- After not competing since January, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Annie Rodenfels picked up right where she left off. She had run a personal best for 3,000 meters when she won the Bob Pollack Invitational at Clemson's Indoor facility with a time of 9:18.93 on January 25. Today, on a warm and humid Saturday morning, she followed two of her male teammates through splits of 3:08.89 (1,000m), 5:00.92 (1600m) and 6:15.71 (2,000m) before passing them with 300m remaining. Her final 200 of 33.64 gave her a new personal best of 9:16.67.
- With no actual race competitions since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE staged their own 5,000-meter invitational on a nice mid-June Saturday morning in Greenville, SC. Annie Rodenfels shattered her previous personal best of 16:34.8 by running an even-paced 16:07.90 on the Greenville High School track. With the intentionally (due to social distancing concerns) small field of five runners, which included three men and two women, Rodenfels ran solo after the first 200 meters. She covered kilometers in 3:14.38, 3:16.62, 3:16.11 (9:47.11 at 3K), and 3:15.8 before closing in 3:05. The time also was a new program record, besting the five-year-old mark of 16:17.68 run by Nicole DiMercurio in winning the 2015 Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, TN.
- Eddie Garcia won the men's competition with a good 14:21.53 effort. He was paced by two-time Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier Cole Atkins and his own teammate and training parter Victor Pataky. Atkins and Pataky paced them with kilometer splits of 2:51.39, 2:52.53, and 2:52.0 (8:35.92 at 3,000). Atkins completed his duties after 3200 meters in 9:10.34, which was right on target for their goal of 14:20. Garcia's fourth kilometer was his slowest as he ran 2:54.82 by himself. He then finished with his fastest kilometer (2:50.79).
- Eddie Garcia and Annie Rodenfels remained atop their respective men's and women's South Carolina Road Race rankings for the third consecutive month.
- Eddie Garcia and Annie Rodenfels remained atop their respective men's and women's South Carolina Road Race rankings for the fourth consecutive month.
- Annie Rodenfels ran a personal best of 9:16.67 for 3,000 meters in a team time trial in Greenville. On another warm and extremely humid (98%) Saturday morning, she followed the perfect pace of her male teammates for approximately seven laps before closing fast to better that time. Eddie Garcia and Victor Pataky took turns pacing with splits of 3:06.98 at the first kilometer, 4:59.73 at 1600m and 6:14.78 at 2K. Rodenfels followed their pace as they gradually increased their speed and then closed the final 200 in a quick 33.82. Her final 1,000m was 2:59.02 to post the personal best of 9:13.80.
- Annie Rodenfels ran an impressive 15:49.53 to place fifth in a very deep field at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, TN. She ran a whopping 45 seconds faster than her "official" previous personal best of 16:34.8, which was run back in December. A 3-time NCAA DIII national champion, she ran the race at sub-16 pace as the lead pack of women began to split apart. She was in tenth position with 1200 meters remaining, but unleashed a furious kick over the final 400 meters to finish 5th, only .14 of a second behind fourth and three seconds behind third.
- Eddie Garcia finished 11th in the men's 5,000m at the Music City Distance Carnival with a time of 14:20.37. He ran with the lead pack through the early kilometers and passed 3,000m at 8:20 (sub-14:00 pace), but slowed considerably over the final kilometer.
- Recent Bridgewater College graduate and DIII Cross Country All-American Calista Ariel relocated to Greenville to join the program.
- Annie Rodenfels and Eddie Garcia won the women's and men's races at the Low Country Elite Invitational 5K road race in Bluffton, SC on a warm and humid Saturday evening. The race was conducted under COViD-19 policies and no spectators were allowed on the closed, USATF certified course ((SC20003BW) with the elite fields limited to under 15 participants per gender. Rodenfels ran an outstanding 16:08.14. Per road racing timing policy the time was rounded up to 16:09, which was only one second off the South Carolina All Comers (non-state resident) record of 16:09 set by Kenya's Sophy Jepchirchir back in December of 2013. She did manage to set a new South Carolina State record (state residents), eclipsing the 16:25 of Kathryn Lazarchick from November 2018. Rodenfels earned $500 for her victory. Garcia almost replicated Rodenfels's performance as he took the early lead along with teammate Victor Pataky. Eddie broke the tape with an excellent time of 14:16.65, which is rounded up to 14:17. He earned $500 for the win. Pataky was fourth in 15:11 to take home $200.
- Eddie Garcia ran 29:48.56 to placed second in the "Under 30 Minutes 10K" on Saturday evening. The race was won by Greenville's James Quattlebaum with a time of 29:43.03. The event was produced by Greenville's Cole Atkins, with assistance from Quattlebaum, and held at Southern Weslyan University in Central, SC.
- Emily Forner joined the post-collegiate, Olympic-development program. Forner, a native Pennsylvanian, graduated from Allegheny College in May of 2019 with a degree in Global Health Studies. Her athletic career at Allegheny was highlighted by wining the NCAA DIII national title at 3,000 meters during the 2019 Indoor Championships. She had previously earned All American honors with her 9th place finish at the 2018 NCAA DIII National Cross Country Championships. Emily has personal bests of 9:39.56 for 3,000m and 16:33.01 for 5,000m.
- ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE recently participated in the virtual ASICS World Ekiden Relay during the competitive period of November 11-22. The event consisted of six-person teams running the traditional marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles). ASICS GTC-ELITE represented Greenville, SC's Fleet Feet running specialty shop in the United States region Retail Partner Division. They competed in the "mixed" category, which required a minimum of two women runners among the six running segments. ASICS GTC-ELITE's total time of 2:12:20 not only placed first in the USA Retail Partner division, but also among all "mixed" teams in the USA region and third in the world among "mixed" teams (over 8,000 teams). ASICS GTC-ELITE had four runners run their respective legs of the relay on Friday, November 13 in their home Greenville, SC area. The other two runners completed their respective legs on Thursday, November 19. For this event, GPS data collected via ASICS Runkeeper app was used for official timing and distance measurements. Results for ASICS GTC-ELITE: 5K legs - Matthew Blunden, 15:43; Emily Forner, 17:08; Mackenzie Lowe, 17:25; 7.195K leg - Victor Pataky, 22:44;10K legs - Eddie Garcia, 29;22; Joe Niemiec, 30:00; Total Time: 2:12:20
- Eddie Garcia and Victor Pataky both ran to huge personal bests in the initial Mortgage Network Half Marathon in Hardeeville, SC. On a crisp, perfect for running, Sunday morning Garcia covered the flat, three-loop course in a new South Carolina State resident record of 1:04:32. That was 53 seconds faster than the 1:05:25 he ran in Columbia back in February before COVID-19 basically shut down road racing in the state. His time earned him eighth in a deep field of elite men and $300. Pataky ran 1:07:05, which knocked 64 seconds his 1:08:09 as he placed 17th.
- Annie Rodenfels completed her 2020 competitive season with a huge personal best in the Five and Dime Athletics Meeting at Columbia International University near South Carolina's state capital city. Rodenfels had run 15:49.53 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville back in August. She knocked a whopping 14 seconds from that performance with her 15:35.18 as she placed a close second to Jenna Hutchins, who won in 15:34.37.
- Eddie Garcia and Annie Rodenfels lead the men's and women's South Carolina Road Race rankings, which were published on December 6, 2020. Their teammate Victor Pataky was ranked third among the men.