Austin area runners Laseter, Morris among 3M Half Marathon favorites – Austin American-Statesman

Austin area runners Laseter, Morris among 3M Half Marathon favorites  Austin American-Statesman

Elizabeth Laseter, who trains with Austin’s Bat City Track Club, is one of the favorites for Sunday’s 3M Half Marathon, which is known for its net downhill course and has a reputation as one of the fastest half-marathons in the country.

Though Laseter has recorded some highly competitive times in both the marathon and half marathon — 2 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds and 1:20:17, respectively — she’s better known for her finish at the 2022 Beer Mile World Classic in October in Leuven, Belgium.

Laseter clocked 6:15 — a world record. But she was subsequently disqualified along with several other competitors in the women’s race for accidentally stepping outside of the “chug zone” before she’d finished downing a fourth beer at the start of her final 400-meter lap.

“There were quite a few disqualifications this past year,” said Laseter, a former Johns Hopkins track and cross-country runner. “They measure out the beer cans in a measuring cup afterwards. If you have more than four ounces of beer left after chugging, you’re out. So even too much foam can disqualify you.”

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Another Bat City Track Club runner, Michael Morris, who won the 3M Half in 2019 and is looking to add a second victory this weekend, also has experience chugging and running.

“I’ve done a few beer miles myself,” Morris said. “Distance runners are hypercompetitive about everything, and beer miles fit that bill. We actually talked about raising a petition to contest Liz’s win and get her world record ratified.”

Neither Laseter nor Morris is concerned about disqualifications at Sunday’s 13.1-mile race, as they intend to cross the finish line well before celebrating with any brews. 

“I’d argue that I don’t have the best chugging skills anyway,” Laseter said. “What helps me is that I can maintain speed. At Johns Hopkins I was a miler and steeplechase runner.”

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“Elizabeth’s magic power is her rugged toughness. Just a gritty, hard-charging runner who can really race,” Bat City Track Club coach Jeff Cunningham said.

Laseter, 34, a former chef and sometime food writer, will need that speed as 3M typically attracts a strong elite field, and this year is no exception. Karen Bertasso-Hughes, an Olympic Marathon Trials runner from Albany, N.Y., is entered, as is Molly Von Holten, who finished in the top 10 at the 2022 Statesman Capitol 10,000.

Morris, 33, should have some tough competition as well. Austin runner Mitch Ammons, who recently qualified for the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials, is looking strong, as is Adam Waldum, who was second at 3M in 2016.

“Racing in Austin is always great,” said Morris, the track and cross-country head coach at San Marcos High School. “The 3M Half Marathon has such great crowd support throughout the whole race, and that makes it so much fun. Plus, the downhill nature of the course can help you settle into a comfortably fast pace that lends itself into a personal best.

“If I’m on the starting line, I want to win,” Morris added. “I’m hypercompetitive. If I can be there in the last mile or two with the top runners, I’ll go for it. I’ll probably run around 1:06 or so. But there’s a larger goal. I’m going to run the L.A. marathon in mid-March, shooting for an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier of 2:18 or better, and 3M will be part of that buildup.”

Race director Jack Murray of High Five Events said approximately 6,000 runners are expected for the event, the fifth race in the Austin Distance Challenge, which culminates with the Austin Marathon on Feb. 19.