05 MAY 2009 General News Albany, New York, USA

Strong European opposition for Johnson in New York

Maria Konovalova in Toro (2007) (Getty Images/AFP)Maria Konovalova in Toro (2007) (Getty Images/AFP) © Copyright

  With the Freihofer's Run for Women now just three weeks away, event organisers today announced the addition of six top European runners to the 31st edition of race set for Saturday, 30 May in Albany, N.Y.

The Freihofer's Run for Women is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
 
Three Russians will be on hand looking to dethrone three-time champion Benita Johnson of Australia. Maria Konovalova had an excellent showing in the 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics last summer, placing 5th. She also boasts a PB of 14:38 in the 5K, which could pose a serious challenge to the existing Freihofer's 5km course record of 15:17, set in 2005 by Asmae Leghzaoui of Morocco.
 
Natalia Sokolova, another strong contender, placed 1st in the 2008 California International Marathon, 1st in the 2008 St Petersburg Marathon and 1st in the 2008 Vytra Long Island Women's 5k, proving she's competitive in all races, no matter the distance. For her part, Marina Ivanova posted top-10 results in the Russian Championships last year in both the 10,000m and the 5000m, as well as a 4th place finish in the 2008 Beach to Beacon 10k.
 
Since taking part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Steeplechase, Great Britain's Barbara Parker has set her sights on another one of her specialties: middle-distance sprinting. A bronze medallist in the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championship Steeplechase, Parker placed 1st at the 2008 Seminole Twilight Meet 1500m and 3rd in the 2009 Reebok Indoors 3000m.
 
Event organisers also confirmed the entry of Romanian Adriana Pirtea, who has dominated the Romanian racing scene since 2006. She's been the 5000m national champion for the past three years and the reigning 10,000m national champion for the past two years.
 
"It's always great to have a few athletes in the field that the other women haven't competed against regularly on the road race circuit," said Freihofer's Run for Women Elite Athlete Recruiter John Tope. "This race will have that mix, which should make for an exciting event on May 30th."
 
Anzhelika Averkova from the Ukraine rounds out the entries from Eastern Europe. Averkova, who will compete in the event's masters (over 40) division, placed 15th at the 2009 Boston Marathon and 2nd at last year's La Rochelle Marathon in France. She is, however, a 10K specialist and is just as comfortable competing at shorter distances, as she is the longer ones.

Edward Parham for the IAAF