America’s Finest City Half Marathon Field Announced

The race's 34th edition is full of runners seeking Olympic-Trials-qualifying times.

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Photo:Running USA

The race’s 34th edition is full of runners seeking Olympic-Trials-qualifying times.

From: Running USA

SAN DIEGO — The 34th America’s Finest City Half Marathon (AFC Half) will have a decidedly American feel to it on Sunday when a slew of U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials hopefuls and more than 8,000 runners take to San Diego’s scenic, palm tree-lined streets.

Justin Young, the 2008 AFC Half champion and the event’s sole American male champion since 1987, will toe the start line with fellow Americans Christian Hesch of Calif., Ben Payne of Florida and 4-time NAIA All-American Paul Robinson of Arizona. Young, a resident of Superior, Colo., won the 31st AFC Half in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 46 seconds.

Hesch, who finished third at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon (1:04:32), is fresh off his first sub 4-minute mile (3:58.68) at the New Balance Falmouth Mile held last Saturday, August 13 in Falmouth, Mass. The Hollywood resident then cranked out a 34:11 performance at the 7-mile New Balance Falmouth Road Race the next day.

The U.S. men will also line up with 2010 AFC Half runner-up, Benard Langat of Kenya who clocked 1:04:55 in his AFC debut last year, as well as Weldon Kirui of Kenya and Tesfaye Sendeku of Ethiopia.

In the women’s field, the absence of two-time defending champion and course record holder, Ethiopian Belainesh Gebre, leaves just one non-American runner in the field – Atalelech Asfaw, also of Ethiopia. Asfaw will be joined by Californians Mary Akor, Lindsay Nelson, Natasha LaBeaud and Jessica Brothers as well as Ariana Hilborn of Arizona. Masters standouts Joanna Zeiger (CO), Erica Baron (NM) and Susan Loken (AZ) will likely battle it out for overall and Masters prize money. Loken, a perennial road race performer, has won the AFC Masters crown four times.

The AFC Half course records are 1:02:24 for the men (Peter Githuka (KEN), 2000) and 1:10:28 for the women (Belainesh Gebre (ETH), 2010). Competitors in the half-marathon will vie for $13,700 in prize money and bonuses. The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials minimum qualifying standards at the half-marathon distance are 65 minutes for the men and 1:15 for women on courses that do not exceed 3.25m/km elevation loss. The USATF-certified AFC Half course has an elevation loss of 1.6 m/km, well under the Trials elevation loss limit.

The AFC Half point-to-point course starts at the Cabrillo National Monument runs along the San Diego Bay and through downtown before finishing in historic Balboa Park. The accompanying AFC 5K starts and finishes in Balboa Park. San Diego’s weather forecast for Sunday is ideal for running – cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s at the start and mid- to upper 60s at the finish. Produced by Neil Finn Sports Management, Inc., the 2011 America’s Finest City Half Marathon will benefit the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, Cancer Patients Alliance and other local charities. During its 33-year history, the AFC Half has raised more than $3.4 million for non-profit organizations.