Flanagan, Defar headline loaded women’s field.
Written by: Mario Fraioli
The event itself has a new name, but defending champion Ryan Hall is hoping for a similar outcome to last year’s 1:01:52 victory at the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on September 19.
“I am very excited to return to Philadelphia to run in the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon,” Hall said. “Now that I have met Rocky, run the lightening fast course, heard the bands, and experienced the energy on the streets of Philadelphia, I am even more eager to race this great race.”
Hall, who won last year’s race by four seconds over Kenya’s Samuel Ndereba, will certainly have his work cut out for him again this time around. Joining the former Stanford grad on the starting line in the City of Brotherly Love will be a fast field of athletes assembled by Elite Athlete Coordinator Matt Turnbull.
Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri, a 2:05:30 marathoner, and sub-27-minute 10K runner Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, who has been tearing up the U.S. road racing scene this summer, will give Hall the biggest run for his money on race day. Australian Shawn Forrest, sixth in his professional road racing debt earlier thus summer at the Beach To Beacon 10K, University of Oregon graduate Shadrack Biwott of Kenya, former NCAA champion and Irish Olympian Alistair Cragg, Oregon Track Club teammates Simon Bairu and Tim Nelson, along with 2009 U.S. 20K champion Brett Gotcher, will all come together ten days from now make up the fastest men’s elite field ever assembled for this race. It’s a fact that isn’t lost on Hall, who is gearing up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 10.
“This years edition will be even more exciting than last year,” Hall added. “Whoever gets to the finish line first will have to be in superb shape. With the fields that are being assembled it is sure to be a flier!”
The equally loaded women’s field is led by multiple Olympic medalist and world-record holder Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, who will be making her half marathon debut. She will be joined on the starting line by American Shalane Flanagan, the reigning U.S. half marathon champion who will be taking her second stab at the 13.1-mile distance in preparation for her marathon debut on November 7 in New York City.
“The race will be an essential test in my build up to the ING New York Marathon,” Flanagan said. “I look forward to a great day in Philly!”
Defar’s countrywoman Derartu Tulu–the reigning New York City marathon champion who owns two Olympic gold medals–and fellow Ethiopian Werknesh Kidane, who has the most world cross country championships medals of any female runner in history, add even more firepower to the front of women’s field. They’ll be accompanied by New Zealand’s Kim Smith, second at the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon earlier this year in a national record 1:07:55, and Kenya’s Lineth Chepkurui, who in August won the Beach to Beacon 10K in a course record of 30:59. [sig:MarioFraioli]