2023 Elite Women’s Field Announced, Course Record Under Threat

The prize purse for the 50th running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon has been increased to a total pool of $12,000, with generous support from the Fort Collins Running Club. Payouts go 8 deep and there will be fierce competition to match.

Sara Vaughn’s 2021 course record (1:15:16) is likely to feel some pressure, amid a women’s race that features an interesting mix of regional, international and collegiate talent. 

The Women’s Elite Field

Last year’s winner Liz Lagoy will not be returning to defend her title in 2023, which leaves Sophie Seward as the top returning runner. A member of the local Front Range Elite (FRE) training group, Sophie placed third in 2022 and comes into the race this year with a marathon PR of 2:33:23. Sophie ran 2:35:36 at the 2022 Grandmas Marathon, securing her spot at the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials. 

Sophie will be joined on the start line by a number of her FRE teammates, including 2018 Horsetooth Half Champion AnnMarie Kirkpatrick, who is coming off a 2:40:34 at the California International Marathon in December. Others from the FRE team include:

  • Sarah Anderson – fifth in the 2021 Horsetooth Half (1:19:58)
  • Mary Katherine Andrews – 2:46:13 at the 2022 Berlin Marathon
  • Grace Morgan – 2:54 at the 2023 Houston Marathon 

Among the favorites for this year’s race will be those coming in from overseas. Top seeded among those runners is Kenya’s Joyline Chemutai. She comes into the Horsetooth Half on the back of a race-winning 1:10:58 effort at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in November of last year.

Joyline will be pushed by a fellow Kenyan and two Ethiopian runners, also with impressive recent performances:

  • Sarah Naibei – Broad Street 10 Miler Defending Champion (52:04).
  • Hirut Guangul – winner of two 2022 Rock n’ Roll Half Marathons: Washington DC (1:14:02) and New Jersey (1:14:46).
  • Weynshet Weldetsadik – placed an impressive ninth at the recent Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (53:47).

Another angle of interest from the women’s elite field is a contingent of recent CSU cross country and track standouts:

  • Janelle Lincks has been focussed recently on international mountain running competition, but comes in with a 1:13:06 half marathon PR from 2021 and still holds the CSU 3k steeple chase record (10:00:02), set in 2017.
  •  Ashlyn Hilliard was part of last year’s CSU Cross Country team at the NCAA D1 National Championships. She will be making her competitive debut at the half marathon distance. She comes in with 5k/10k PRs of 16:06 & 34:01.
  • Claudia Burgess was also on the CSU XC team at the NCAAs. She too will be making her competitive debut at the half marathon distance and comes in with 5k/10k PRs of 16:25 & 34:55
  • Two other runners in the women’s field come in with sub-2:50 marathon PRs. Shayna Barbash ran a 2:49:34 in November at the Indianapolis Marathon, while Ellie Pell ran 2:41:52 at the 2019 Hartford Marathon to qualify for the last U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. 

    The racing action starts at 8:30am on Sunday, April 16. Lead runners in the women’s race will hit the finish around 9:45am.