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Janet Bawcom, Brianne Nelson lead U.S women at LA Marathon

Janet Bawcom has had success in road races before, and she hopes to continue it in Los Angeles. Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The 2015 U.S. Marathon Championship at the ASICS LA Marathon takes place on Sunday, and the winner has a chance of taking home $50,000 if they win both the U.S. race and the overall race. Here's a look at the U.S. runners to keep an eye on when the starting gun goes off on Sunday morning.

The favorite: Janet Bawcom -- Bawcom makes her return to the marathon distance since finishing fifth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012, where she ran a personal best of 2:29:49. No longer on the track, Bawcom has found success on the roads with podium finishes in several of the U.S. Championship circuit races. H

er most recent was a third place finish at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championship (70:46) on Jan. 18, which she followed up with a victory at the Rock N’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon the next weekend. Her return to the 26.2 mile distance could be successful after a strong training stint in Kenya.

The contenders

Brianne Nelson -- After finishing ahead of Bawcom at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championship, Nelson spent the early months of 2015 also running cross-country. She represented the U.S. at the Great Edinburgh Cross-Country Championship, where she finished fourth for six-kilometers in 21:54. She also placed 12th over eight kilometers at the U.S. Cross-Country Championship.

Nelson has run a marathon three times in her career, the first being a 61st place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Last year, she managed to run two races under 2:35 and finish on third at the U.S. Marathon Championships.

Becky Wade -- After a stellar 2:30:41 debut at the California International Marathon in 2013, injuries have delayed Wade’s return to the marathon. If she is near the same form from 2013, she might be a force to be reckoned with. She ran 72:18 for 11th place at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championships.

Lauren Jimison -- Less than a year after making her debut at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN and then setting a personal best at the 2014 Chicago Marathon, Jimison has proven she can handle a fast course and is clicking off seconds from her personal best with each race.

The debutant

Sara Hall -- Her husband, fastest-ever American marathoner Ryan Hall, has said Sara is in the best shape of her life. In 2014, Sara Hall ran every road distance from a mile to half-marathon. She opened the 2015 campaign with a 70:50 personal best at the U.S. Half-Marathon Championships.

The performance was great considering she was sick in the days leading up to it after eating something bad in Ethiopia. The string of bad luck dates back to last August, when Hall suffered a burst appendix ahead of her planned debut at a fall marathon. Much like her husband, if Sara can make it to the start line in one piece she should fare well in the race.