General News Philadelphia, USA

Defar to make Half Marathon debut in Philadelphia, to take on Flanagan

Meseret Defar in her 10,000m debut in Stockholm (Hasse Sjögren)Meseret Defar in her 10,000m debut in Stockholm (Hasse Sjögren) © Copyright
As the site of five World and three American records, the race formerly known as the Philadelphia Distance Run is positioned for another historic performance in 2010. In one of the most decorated half-marathon fields ever assembled, U.S. Olympian and multiple American record holder Shalane Flanagan will square off versus two-time Olympic medallist and multiple world record holder Meseret Defar, who will be making her half-marathon debut Sunday (19) at the ING Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.
 
At the age of 26, Defar is destined to go down as one of the best distance runners – male or female – in history.  She was the Olympic 5000m champion in 2004 and has set six World Records, four of which are still standing. She is a nine-time IAAF World Athletics Final champion, and holds a 5000m track PB of 14:12.88, the number two performance of all-time.

The reigning U.S. Half Marathon champion, Flanagan took home an Olympic 10,000m bronze medal in Beijing and won her debut Half Marathon earlier this year at the 2010 U.S. Half Marathon Championships in Houston with a time of 1:09:41.
 
"I am excited to be racing my second half marathon at the first ever ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia,” said Flanagan. “The race will be an essential test in my build up to the New York marathon and I am looking forward to a great day in Philly!"
 
Alongside Defar will be the Ethopian trio of Werknesh Kidane, Derartu Tulu and Teyba Erkesso. Kidane, the 2005 champion at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, has won the most World Cross Country medals by any woman in history. Erkesso won the 2009 Boston Marathon and set her Half Marathon PB of 1:07:41 at Ras Al Khaimah earlier this year. The 209 New York Marathon champion, Tulu returns to Philadelphia after finishing fourth at last year’s race in a tune up for her marathon victory.
 
Among the favorites is 2006 Philadelphia champion Lineth Chepkirui of Kenya, who has been tearing up the U.S. road racing scene this summer with victories at Bloomsday, Cherry Blossom, Beach to Beacon and Crescent City. Also in the field is New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith, winner of four NCAA championships at Providence College. Smith holds the New Zealand Marathon record of 2:25:21 and has a Half Marathon personal best of 1:07:55, which is the third-fastest time ever run on U.S. Soil.

Japan's Yuri Kano, who has a 1:08:57 personal best, comes to the event with Rock ‘n’ Roll experience winning the 2008 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, before going on to finish second that year in Tokyo Marathon.  Other Americans include 2008 Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Runner-Up Katie McGregor and Serena Burla who owns a 1:10:08 half-marathon PR.  

The 69-minute mark has been broken by women in Philadelphia five times, with Deena Kastor's 1:07:53 from 2005 still standing as the course record.

Dan Cruz (organisers) for the IAAF