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Olympians To Run New Years Eve Race In NYC

Olympians Ian Dobson and Erin Donohue to headline field of professional athletes scheduled to run.

New York, December 21, 2009—As the clock strikes midnight on December 31, New York Road Runners (NYRR) is kicking off the new year in Central Park with fireworks, a costume contest, and a four-mile fun run for thousands of runners at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run.

Olympians Ian Dobson and Erin Donohue are among the top athletes expected to race for a prize purse of $2,000, including $500 apiece to the male and female winners. The field also includes Dobson’s wife, Julia Lucas, and Team USA Minnesota’s Patrick Smyth and Alisa McKaig, in addition to top local runners Abiyot Endale and Genna Tufa on the men’s side, and Aziza Aliyu and Lesley Higgins on the women’s side.

The men’s event record is 18:12, set by Andrew Carlson in 2007. Carmen Douma-Hussar holds the women’s event record of 20:54, also set in 2007.

The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, a Central Park tradition since 1978, offers runners and spectators a fun and healthy way to celebrate the New Year, just blocks north of the crowds in Times Square. The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run promises to be one of the most distinctive, cost-effective parties in all of Manhattan.

“The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run has become a New Year’s Eve destination for thousands of runners and spectators,” said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners. “It has a dedicated crowd that gathers each year for one of the most active New Year’s Eve parties in New York City.”

“We’re proud to be the title sponsor of the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run,” said Jeff Ngo, Director of Marketing at Diamond Foods. “We’re excited to help people start the year off right with a source of natural energy. This is part of our commitment to promoting active and healthy lifestyles.”

The festivities begin at 10:00 p.m. with a dance party and costume contest, followed by a costume parade at 11:00 p.m. At midnight, the runners will take off on their non-scored four-mile loop through Central Park, under the glow of a 17-minute fireworks show.  In lieu of water at mile two, runners will have the option to raise a glass of non-alcoholic champagne to the New Year.

For the third straight year, military personnel stationed in Iraq will start their own Midnight Run at the stroke of midnight—eight time zones ahead of New York. Captain Clifford Cotten, a NYRR member stationed at CSC Scania in Iraq, has organized the event with a team of 50 runners, including military personnel on base as well as a few local Iraqis who Cotten has inspired to join the team.

The following athletes are expected to comprise the pro athlete field:

Ian Dobson (Portland, OR): 2008 Olympian, 5000m
Abiyot Endale (Bronx, NY): Third, 2008 Emerald Nuts Midnight Run
Patrick Smyth (Minneapolis, MN): Third, 2009 USA 10-mile Championships
Bado Worku Merdessa (Bronx, NY): 2009 NYRR Club Team Champ
Derese Deniboba (Bronx, NY): Seventh, 2008 Emerald Nuts Midnight Run
Nick Polk (Blowing Rock, NC): Fourth, 2008 NCAA D-II 10,000m
Harbert Okuti (New Rochelle, NY): Seventh, 2008 NYRR Club Team Championships
Sean Brosnan (Lafayette, CA): 18th, 2009 Fifth Avenue Mile
Genna Tufa (Bronx, NY): First, 2008 SLC Marathon
Derek Scott (Bloomington, IN): 2007 NAIA 1500m champion
Antonio Liuzzo (Scicli, Italy): First Italian, 2009 ING New York City Marathon
Emrani Dustin (Kings Point, NY): 2009 Maccabiah Games 800m champion

Aziza Aliyu (Bronx, NY): Two-time Emerald Nuts Midnight Run champion (2006, 2008)
Erin Donohue (Haddonfield, NJ): 2008 Olympian, 1500m
Hirut Mandefro (Silver Spring, MD): Third, NYRR New York Mini 10K
Julia Lucas (Portland, OR): 2005-06 ACC 5000m champion
Alissa McKaig (Blowing Rock, NC): 2008 NAIA 5K & 10K champion
Zeferjahn Tanya (Charlotte, NC): 2009 NCAA D-II 10K champion
Lesley Higgins (New York, NY): Second, 2001 NCAA indoor mile
Kim Duclos (Worcester, MA): 16th, 2009 Boston Marathon
Susie Rivard (Indianapolis, IN): Sixth, 2007 NCAA D-II indoor mile