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Star-Studded International Field For NYC Half

Expect some fast times in the Big Apple this weekend.

Expect some fast times in the Big Apple this weekend.

From: NYRR Media

NEW YORK — Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang of Kenya and three-time Olympian Kim Smith of New Zealand will headline the international fields for the New York City Half Marathon on March 17.

World championships bronze medalist Bob Tahri of France will make his half-marathon debut, while Portugal’s newly crowned European champion Sara Moreira will run the NYC Half as her U.S. debut, New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg. announced today.

Previously confirmed runners for the NYC Half men’s professional field include U.S. Olympians Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Bernard Lagat. Additional U.S. competitors include Jason Hartmann, the top American in the 2012 Boston Marathon, and Guor Marial, who ran the London Olympic Marathon under the flag of the IOC and will be running his first race as a U.S. citizen.

In the women’s race, previously confirmed runners include Janet Bawcom, a 2012 U.S. Olympian in the 10,000 meters event, along with Americans Adriana Nelson, Maegan Krifchin, Molly Pritz, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, and Serena Burla.

“We are privileged to host Wilson Kipsang and Kim Smith here in New York again, and welcome every opportunity for them to run through the streets of the City,” Wittenberg said. “The diversity of this field is similar to the diversity of New York. Just like the runners who travel across the country for this event share their stories with friends and families back home, these decorated international athletes bring a piece of NYC back to their countries.”

Arguably the world’s best marathoner, Kipsang, 30, of Kenya, has a half-marathon best of 58:59. His marathon best of 2:03:42, set at the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon, makes him the second-fastest marathoner of all time on a record-standard course. Kipsang took bronze in the 2012 Olympic Games men’s marathon, and he won the 2012 Virgin London Marathon champion by more than two minutes.

“I’m glad to come back to New York,” said Kipsang, who was scheduled to run the ING New York City Marathon before its cancellation in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. “At the moment, I train a few times a week with Geoffrey Mutai, and my preparation is going well for my spring marathon in April. My preparation for the half-marathon in New York is okay, and I hope I can run a time below 60 minutes — that’s my goal.”

Smith, 31, a native of Auckland who now lives in Providence, R.I., placed fifth at the ING New York City Marathon in both 2010 and 2011. She finished second at the NYC Half 2012 in a time of 1:08:43 after leading nearly the entire race. She broke her own record for the fastest-ever half-marathon by a woman on U.S. soil when she won the 2011 Rock ’n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon in 1:07:11. Smith holds 12 New Zealand records at distances from the mile to the marathon.

“I’m really looking forward to racing my favorite distance at the NYC Half again this year,” Smith said. “After coming close to winning last year, I want to come back and get the top spot on the podium. I hope that doing half-marathons early in the year will set me up for some fast times at the shorter distance of five and 10 kilometers this summer.”

The 34-year-old Tahri is a three-time Olympian for France and was the 2009 World Championships bronze medalist in the 3000-meter steeplechase. He is also a four-time European Championships medalist in the 3000 meters and 3000-meter steeplechase.

Moreira, 27, of Portugal, recently became the European Indoor Champion at 3000 meters; she and her Portuguese teammates have won three European Cross Country team championships.

Additional top international contenders for the NYC Half 2013 include:

— Daniele Meucci, 27, of Italy, the 2012 European Championships 10,000-meter silver medalist and winner of the 2012 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park

— Deressa Chimsa, 36, of Ethiopia, the 2012 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships silver medalist, with a personal best half-marathon time of 1:00:51

— Juan Luis Barrios, 29, of Mexico, a three-time Pan American Games medalist

— Madaí Pérez, 33, of Mexico, the winner of the 2011 Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in 1:11:49 and who will be running her sixth NYC Half, including a second-place finish in 2008 and third in 2010

— Sabrina Mockenhaupt, 32, of Germany, a three-time Olympian who holds 29 national titles and has a personal best half-marathon of 1:08:45

— Valeria Straneo, 36, of Italy, the Italian marathon record-holder (2:23:44), who finished eighth at both the 2012 London Olympic Marathon (2:25:27) and the 2011 BMW Berlin Marathon (2:26:33)

— Adriana Da Silva, 31, of Brazil, the 2011 Pan American Games Marathon gold medalist