17 FEB 2012 General News

Quartet of U.S. Stars Keflezighi, Ritzenhein, Goucher, and Davila to run at NYC Half Marathon

Kara Goucher wins her final pre-Berlin test in Chicago (organisers)Kara Goucher wins her final pre-Berlin test in Chicago (organisers) © Copyright

In a notable gathering of four world-class American runners, Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein, Kara Goucher, and Desiree Davila will run the NYC Half on Sunday, 18 March, it was announced by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.


The announcements of Keflezighi, Goucher, and Davila give the race three members of this year’s U.S. Olympic Marathon team. Ritzenhein, who will focus on making the Olympic team at 10,000m after his fourth-place finish at the marathon Trials, adds great strength to the field. Increasing the depth of the American roster are talented pros Scott Bauhs, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, Molly Pritz, Julie Culley, Jeannette Faber, and Stephanie Pezzullo.


NYRR’s flagship half-marathon, in its seventh edition, will feature a race-record field of 15,000 runners and a thrilling new course. Also new this year, WABC-TV will be airing the NYC Half live beginning at 7:00 a.m. as part of NYRR’s recently announced comprehensive television agreement with ESPN/WABC-TV. The NYC Half will again offer the largest half-marathon prize purse in the United States: $100,000. The men’s and women’s champions will each earn $20,000. The race continues to attract prominent professional athletes and recreational runners from around the world.  


“We are ecstatic to welcome four of America’s brightest running stars to NYC,” said Wittenberg. “New Yorkers and runners and fans everywhere will no doubt be awed as this spirited foursome races through the city streets on their ‘Road to London.’”  


After qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games by winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials earlier this year, Keflezighi, 36, will be on familiar ground in New York. In 2009, he became the first American since Alberto Salazar in 1982 to win the ING New York City Marathon. He has finished in the top 10 in the Marathon a total of seven times, most recently with a sixth-place finish in 2011. A silver medalist in the men’s marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Keflezighi is a three-time USA cross country champion (2001, 2002, 2009) and has won more than 20 USA titles in his career.


“I am happy to announce that my first race after winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials will be the NYC Half,” said Keflezighi. “NYRR events have been a big part of my professional career, so I am very excited to start my 2012 Olympic Games buildup at the NYC Half. I recovered well from the Olympic Trials and look forward to competing against the field.”


Ritzenhein, 29, recently ran a personal best time of 2:09:55 at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, narrowly missing a spot on the Marathon team. A two-time U.S. Olympian, Ritzenhein finished second in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and went on to finish ninth—and top American—at the Beijing Games. Ritzenhein took the bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships, and his 60:00 finishing time there makes him the second-fastest American in history over the distance.


“Coming off the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, I need a big race to test my fitness but more importantly to turn my focus to making the Olympic 10,000m team, and the NYC Half is the perfect step in achieving that goal,” said Ritzenhein. “I’ve had great success at the half-marathon distance and it gives me a good bridge to slowly work my way back down to the speed it will take to have a great summer track season. I love racing in New York City and can’t wait to be back there in a few weeks to continue the journey to making the team for London.”


One of America’s premier women’s distance runners, Goucher, 33, qualified for the London Olympic Marathon by placing third at the U.S. Trials last month in a time of 2:26:06. A native of Queens, Goucher will return to New York as a fan favourite, having placed third at last year’s NYC Half. At the 2011 Boston Marathon, Goucher finished fifth in a personal-best time of 2:24:26. She made her mark on the ING New York City Marathon in 2008 when she ran the fastest-ever debut marathon by an American woman—2:25:53—and finished third. The time is also the fastest ever by an American woman at the race. At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Goucher achieved the rare feat of qualifying for Team USA in two events, winning the 5000m and placing second in the 10,000m.


“As always, I’m looking forward to returning to NYC to run the half-marathon,” said Goucher. “I feel a special connection with NYC, and it’s always a season highlight for me when I race there. This will be my first race after making the 2012 Olympic team. I couldn’t imagine a better place to start my run-up to the London Games.”


Davila, 28, became a member of the U.S. Olympic marathon team by finishing second in the U.S. Trials with a time of 2:25:55. Davila burst into the spotlight with her thrilling finish at the 2011 Boston Marathon, in which she battled for the win with eventual winner Caroline Kilel through the final miles and finished second by only a two-second margin. Davila’s time of 2:22:38 was the fastest time ever by an American woman at the Boston Marathon.


“After the high of the Olympic Trials, followed by a bit of recovery time, it was important for me to find a race that would get me excited to compete and motivated to train hard through the spring season,” said Davila. “The strong fields that NYRR traditionally puts together, along with the thrill of running through the streets of New York, made the NYC Half the perfect opportunity.”


The NYC Half will offer runners a spectacular tour of Manhattan as they race through Central Park, Times Square, the Hudson River waterfront, and lower Manhattan, en route to the scenic South Street Seaport finish line.


Organisers for the IAAF