Ryan Hall wins the 2009 ING Philadelphia Distance Run (Organisers) © Copyright
Hall, the American record holder at the half-marathon (59:43, Houston 2007), became the first American-born runner to win in Philadelphia since 1986 with his 1:01:52 victory last year.
"I am very excited to return to Philadelphia to run in the ING Rock n Roll Half Marathon,” said Hall, who won last year’s race by four seconds over Kenya’s Samuel Ndereba. “Now that I have met Rocky, run the lightning fast course, heard the bands, and experienced the energy on the streets of Philadelphia, I am even more eager to compete in this great race.”
Known as the Philadelphia Distance Run for 32 years, the legacy of the historic road race includes five World and three US records. Hall will use the race as his final tune up for an assault on the US Marathon record of 2:05:38, set in London by Khalid Khannouchi in 2002, at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 10 October.
Hall will be joined by fellow Stanford grad Brett Gotcher, the 2009 USA 20K champion. Gotcher, who competes for McMillan Elite out of Flagstaff, Arizona, represented the U.S. last year at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championship, and this January ran 2:10:36 to finish seventh at the Houston Marathon. It was the fourth fastest marathon debut ever by a U.S. runner.
The Americans will be formidably challenged, however, by a powerful field of international athletes led by Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri, a 2:05:30 marathoner who was second last year in the Chicago Marathon (2:06:04), Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Champion and #1 road racer of 2010 with wins at New York ‘s Healthy Kidney 10K, Atlanta’s Peachtree 10K, Cape Elizabeth, Maine’s Beach to Beacon 10K, and the Falmouth Road Race 7 Miler on Cape Cod.
Also contending will be Australian Shawn Forrest, a University of Arkansas grad who finished second in the NCAA 10,000m last year, then took sixth in his professional road racing debut earlier this summer at the Beach to Beacon 10K; Shadrack Biwott of Kenya, a four-time All-American while running for the University of Oregon; Simon Bairu of Canada and the Oregon Track Club, a University of Wisconsin grad who bested Ryan Hall in winning the Rock `n` Roll Arizona Half-Marathon this January, then broke the Canadian national record for 10,000m in May (27:23); and Irish Olympian Alistair Cragg, a two-time Olympian and seven-time NCAA champion while competing for the University of Arkansas.
“This year’s edition will be even more exciting than last year’s,” added Hall. “With the field that’s being assembled it is sure to be a flier! Whoever gets to the finish line first will have to be in superb shape. My training is off to a very good start and having this half marathon just three weeks till the Bank of America Chicago Marathon I should be even sharper than last year.”
Wildcards expected to challenge for podium finishes are the Kenyan trio of Matthew Kisorio, a sub-13:00 5000m runner on this year’s Samsung Diamond League track tour; McDonard Ondara, winner of the 2007 Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon; and Wesley Korir, who won his second consecutive L.A. Marathon in March with a time of 2:09:19.
Organisers for the IAAF