ASICS GTC-ELITE 2021 athletes competed in the following locations during an unusual COVID-19 pandemic year:
- Eddie Garcia named South Carolina Long Distance Runner of the Year for 2020. Competing in the state’s toughest events He won 3 of 6 races he participated in 2020, with major wins coming at The Long Run 15K (Columbia) in 46:32, the Lowcountry Elite Invitational 5K (Hardeeville) in 14:17 and the Governor’s Cup Half Marathon (Columbia) in a state record of 1:05:25. He lowered that record at the Mortgage Network Half Marathon (Hardeeville) to 1:04:32, finishing eighth in the state’s most competitive event. On the track he ran 10,000 meters in 29:48.56 placing runner-up at the Under 30 and outside of South Carolina at the Music City Festival he ran 5000 meters in 14:20.37.
- South Carolina USATF Record Keeper Bill Marable published the 2020 South Carolina Open and Age Group rankings and the year's Top Performances. ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE's Eduardo Garcia and Annie Rodenfels were honored with the Top Performances for men and women, respectively. Garcia's performance was his Half Marathon State Record time of 1:04:32, set at December's Mortgage Network Half Marathon in Hardeeville, SC. Rodenfels' performance was also a South Carolina State Record when she ran 16:09 for 5K in the Low Country Elite Invitational in Bluffton. Garcia also was ranked first in the Open category for the Age Group rankings, where the top three performances for each athlete were used for comparison. Eddie's top three performances included a 14:17 5K (1st place) at the Low Country Elite Invitational (Bluffton); a 1:05:25 victory at Columbia's Governor's Cup Half Marathon which was a State Record; and a 1:04:32 State Record effort at the Mortgage Network Half Marathon (Hardeeville). Garcia was also recently awarded the 2020 SC Long Distance Runner of the Year award. Rodenfels did not have three road performances of at least 5K in distance, so was not included in the Open rankings. However, she did set the aforementioned State Record of 16:09 for 5K and also won the Greenville News Run Downtown 5K back in January 2020 with a time of 16:44. It should be noted that she also won the Governor's Cup Main Street Mile in February with a time of 4:54. Annie's focus was targeted toward the track where she ran personal bests over 5,000 meters of 15:49.53 (Nashville, TN) and 15:35.18 (Columbia, SC).
- Eddie Garcia ran 1:05:35 to place second in the Greenville Half Marathon on a cool, damp and misty Saturday morning. Garcia, the 2020 USATF South Carolina Long Distance Runner of the Year, finished behind only Greenville's James Quattlebaum--the 2019 USATF SC LDROY--who ran a course record 1:03:59. The course started in Travelers Rest and finished in downtown Greenville and was run mostly on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The course is not record eligible due to the net downhill. Garcia's time was his career third best behind his SC State Records of 1:05:25 and 1:04:32 from 2020. His effort earned $400 from the event's prize purse.
- Annie Rodenfels ran 15:46.7 to place fourth in the women's 5,000 meters at the Raleigh Relays, conducted Friday at North Carolina State University. On a warm, late March evening Rodenfels was targeting a new personal best as the deep field of women athletes started the fifth and final heat of the evening's 5,000s at 9:00 pm. However, after passing the first 800 meters slightly slower than her desired pace, Annie took the lead and passed the first kilometer in 3:08.89. She continued to lead through halfway (2500m), but relinquished it soon after to Providence College's Abby Wheeler. Wheeler led through 3,000m (9:28.7) with Rodenfels less than a second back in fourth position. By 3800m, Georgia Tech's All American Nicole Fegans was in front, followed by Notre Dame's Katie Wasserman, Wheeler and Rodenfels, all less than one second behind. The pace quickened over the final kilometer and the race came down to a ferocious final 400 as Wasserman closed the final lap in an impressive 64.75 to finish in a new meet record of 15:33.35, breaking Furman's Allie Buchalski's 2017 mark of 15:35.55. Fegans ran a personal best of 15:37.16 for second and NC State's Savannah Shaw ran 15:40.37 for third. Rodenfels had been passed by a couple of runners and was in sixth with 400m remaining, but rallied with a 71.6 final lap to place fourth. Wheeler placed fifth in 15:46.87 in what was the Raleigh Relays deepest field in the event's history as eleven of the 88 finishers (5 heats) broke 16:00 minutes. Annie was disappointed in not being able to better her personal best of 15:35.18, but her 15:46.7 was her second best time over the 5,000m distance. Her kilometer splits were: 3:08.89, 3:09.86, 3:10.82, 3:11.8 and 3:05.33.
- Annie Rodenfels ran a huge personal best to place fourth in the 1500 meters at the first of the Atlanta Track Club's Spring Series meets. On a clear, crisp Saturday evening in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta she dropped over 14 seconds from her previous best 1500 best. The Atlanta Track Club intended to provide an opportunity to gain qualifying times for the upcoming Olympic Trials in June. However, the ASICS GTC-ELITE coaches saw it as opportunity for Annie to demonstrate her speed over a shorter distance as she prepares to qualify in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. She had not run a 1500m since joining the Greenville post-collegiate, Olympic-development program in August of 2019. The plan was to run the first 400 in 68 seconds and then progress accordingly. Working that plan, Anne covered the first lap in 68.74 and passed 800 meters at 2:16.32, which was a 67.57 lap. She then ran 67.83 and passed 1200 meters at 3:24.14 before closing the final 300 in 49.35. She moved from sixth to fourth over the final 200 meters, besting such standouts as 2016 Olympian Abby Cooper and Heather Kamph of Minnesota Distance Elite. Kamph has competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials, is a 4-time USA Mile Road Champion, and has been deemed the “Queen of the road Mile,” given she has won 28 races of that distance between 2011-2019.
- Annie Rodenfels qualified for the upcoming USATF Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR with her impressive 9:46.98 victory in the 3000-meter Steeplechase. On a cloudy and windy Saturday morning, Annie took the lead from the gun on the brand new Beynon track surface at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Her goal was to run under the 9:50.00 qualifying standard that would provide an automatic-qualifier to be included in the field of top women steeplechasers at the new Hayward Field in Tracktown USA in late June.
Rodenfels covered the first full lap of the race in a brisk 72 seconds and had already put a gap of 30 meters on the remainder of the field. Midway through the race, veteran public address announcer Dave Milner informed those in attendance that Rodenfels was on pace to take the current USA lead in the event. ON Athletics Club's Leah (O'Connor) Falland, a 2-time NCAA DI champion while at Michigan State, has the fastest 2021 USA time of 9:44.73. However, Annie slowed slightly over the next laps before rallying with a 76-second final circuit. Her time was a personal best by over ten seconds and was basically a solo effort as the runner-up's time was 10:57.37. Annie's performance is now the third fastest in the USA during 2021--only behind Falland's time and Hannah Steelman (9:46.35) of NC State.
- Eddie Garcia returned to the track where he had set his personal best for 10,000 meters in 2019 and repeated a PB performance on Friday night in the Portland, OR suburb of Lake Oswego. Running in the second heat of the loaded 10,000, Eddie closed fast over the final 800m to post of time of 29:18.25. That eclipsed his personal best of 29:18.37. On a beautiful evening Eddie ran in the lead pack for the first 4000 meters before slightly falling of the leaders and passing 5,000m at 14:40. After some additional laps at a similar pace, he was able to respond over the final 2K and moved from 11th to 4th over the final 800 meters. His final 400 was 61.3 which was the fourth fastest final lap in the combined two heats. His final 5,000 was 14:38.
The time was a new national record for the United States Virgin Islands, which Eddie represents in international competition. He also hold the records for the 5,000, Half Marathon and Marathon.
- Emily Forner and Mackenzie Lowe placed first and second among women in the Sunrise 8K in Simpsonville, SC. The two training partners ran together for the first four kilometers before Forner took the lead on her way to a 29:15 clocking. That placed her fourth overall, while Lowe's 30:06 finish was seventh overall.
- Eddie Garcia placed 11th at Saturday's Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. He finished with a time of 2:19:52 after passing the halfway point in 1:09:08. Eddie passed the 20-mile mark at 1:45:27 in ninth place. That was 2:18:08 pace, but he slowed considerably over the final few miles. His finishing time was 62 seconds off his personal best of 2:18:50 which he ran at the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon.
- Annie Rodenfels competed in her first USATF Olympic Trials and finished 30th in a field of 33 in the 3000-meter Steeplechase. The three-time NCAA DIII champion (twice in the steeplechase) ran 10:11.76, well off her personal best of 9:46.9 that she ran back in April.
- Mackenzie Lowe ran 18:01 to win the Red, White & Blue Shoes 5K on Saturday morning in Simpsonville, SC. She had finished second to teammate Emily Forner in the Sunrise 8K on a course using the same start and finish area in the Greenville suburb last month. It was her first victory since joining the program in August of 2020.
- Jason Weitzel joined the program. One of the most decorated athletes in the history of West Virginia's Concord University, Jason was named to the USTFCCCA All-American Second Team after an 11th-place finish in the steeplechase at the NCAA Division II National Championships. 2021 marks the fourth straight year that Weitzel has been placed on the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team. The Athens, West Virginia native completed his course work for his masters of Health Promotion degree in May after earning his Health and Physical education degree during his undergraduate years. In grad school, Weitzel had a 3.54 GPA. During his career that spans back to the fall of 2015, Weitzel has been a member of USTFCCCA All-Atlantic Region Teams 17 times—including landing on the squad all four years of cross country eligibility—and was All-Mountain East Conference 16 more times. He helped CU earn its first team bid to the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championship in 2016, also the first MEC team to accomplish the feat. Furthermore, he helped the Mountain Lions to three consecutive MEC Championships in cross country (2015-17). In the fall of 2018, Weitzel was the Atlantic Regional Runner of the Year as he was the champion of the Atlantic Cross Country Region Championship. Earlier that spring, Weitzel was the MEC Track Athlete of the Year, and wrapped his career by being the MEC MVP/High Point in track in 2021.
- Emily Forner won the women's division of the United Community Bank 43rd Reedy River Run. Forner covered the hilly 10-kilometer course that starts and finishers on downtown Greenville's S. Main Street bridge in a time of 37:28. It was the first road 10K for the former NCAA DIII 3,000m champio while at Allegheny College. The victory also earned Forner the Road Runner's Club of America South Carolina State 10K championship. Emily's teammate, Mackenzie Lowe, placed third among women with a time of 37:55. Jason Weitzel pulled away from Greenville's Ricky Flynn over the final kilometer to place second with a time of 30:22. It was Jason's first race as a member of the post-collegiate, Olympic-development program and he earned a total of $550 ($400 for 2nd + $100 time bonus + $50 for second SC runner).
- Jason Weitzel ran to an impressive victory in the Allianz Partners 8K road race in Richmond, VA on a sunny, cool and crisp Saturday morning. The former standout at West Virginia's Concord University took the lead from the starter's call and ran steady 4:40-mile pace through the first four miles before quickening his effort over the final kilometer. He was followed along the course and across the finish line by ZAP Endurance's Matt McClintock, who finished in 23:14. Jason's performance now ranks him second all-time over 8K among ASICS GTC-ELITE athletes, only behind Austin Steagall's 22:59 over the same Richmond course in 2018.
- Mackenzie Lowe ran a huge personal best at the 2021 Philadelphia Marathon. After passing the halfway point (21.1K) in 1:23:18 and 30K at 1:59:07, she crossed the finish line in 2:48:50. That was almost six minutes better than her previous best of 2:54:42, which she ran in the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She placed 16th among the women and averaged 6:26 per mile pace.
- Running in the 2021 USATF Half Marathon Championships Jason Weitzel had an outstanding debut at the distance as he placed 21st. The race was produced by the Mortgage Network Half Marathon in Hardeeville, South Carolina and attracted impressive fields from all over the United States for both the men's and women's races.
Jason settled into the second pack after the first mile and the group passed 5K in 15:07, although well behind the leaders who split 14:30. He passed 10K in 30:16 and then set a program record for 15K as he split 45:34. He then equaled the program record of Mark Leininger for 10 miles with a time of 48:56 before passing 20K in 1:01:21, which broke Leininger's club record. Although Jason slowed slightly over the final four kilometers, he finished in an impressive 1:04:45. That is the third fastest time in ASICS GTC-ELITE program history and only 13 seconds off the South Carolina residents' state record of 1:04:32, which was sent by Eduardo Garcia here in 2020.
Due to the event being the USA Championships, the 5K, 10K, 15K, 10-Mile and 20K distances were certified and produced official times. Therefore, Jason set three new SC residents' state records, at 15K, 10-Miles and 20K, as he ran faster the the current listings for those distances.