Silas Frantz will be motivated by pride and passion but not by a paycheck when he attempts today to become the first back-to-back winner in the 18-year history of the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

Frantz, a University of Virginia graduate student who last year won in impressive fashion, is regarded as one of two or three favorites in this year’s race. But he will not depart with the $2,000 winner’s prize.

The Monument Avenue race is serving for the fourth consecutive year as the Collegiate Running Association’s national championship 10K road race. The CRA will award prize money only to athletes who are enrolled in at least one undergraduate or postgraduate class.

Race and CRA officials say Frantz has reached the thesis stage of his postgraduate work at the University of Virginia. But they say he is not currently enrolled in classes. Nor — because of his commitment to his job — is he currently working on his thesis.

CRA status notwithstanding, Frantz, a former standout at Douglas Freeman High School, will be difficult to ignore when he arrives this morning at the starting line. He won last year’s race in 30:46 and seems capable of more of the same this year. He won the recent TowneBank 8k in Virginia Beach by more than 90 seconds.

Frantz “is running beautifully,” said Steve Taylor, the University of Richmond’s men’s cross country coach and co-founder of the Collegiate Running Association. “He’s obviously fit and ready to go.”

Quality challengers are expected to be plentiful. The men’s lineup also includes Ryan Hagen (Mary Baldwin) and Sheryak Connor (Georgetown). They finished second and fourth, respectively, in 2016.

Also in the mix: Eastern Kentucky’s Amos Kosgey, a graduate student from Kenya. Kosgey’s résumé includes two Ohio Valley Conference outdoor championships: 5,000 meters in 2015 and 10,000 meters last year.

“I think we’re going to see a fantastic (men’s) race, a really competitive race,” Taylor said.

CRA prize money will be awarded to the top 10 male and female collegiate finishers in amounts ranging from $2,000 for first place to $100 for 10th. A top-10 finisher who does not meet CRA eligibility standards will be bypassed when CRA prizes are distributed. All collegiate finishers below the ineligible athlete will move up a notch.

Frantz will be eligible for a smaller prize. The top three local male and female finishers receive $500, $300 and $100, respectively.

Taylor said the women’s race, too, appears “very strong.”

There, the list of formidable competitors begins with U.Va. graduate student Rachel Ward. If her name sounds familiar — well, it should. She set a course record while winning the 2015 Richmond Half Marathon in 1:12:33. She has completed a 10K in 32:15.

Likely challengers include Sarah Cotton, a Georgetown University graduate student who has run an outdoors 5K in 16:14; and George Mason graduate student Rochelle Basil, who finished sixth (2:51:51) in last year’s Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

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