There were no duels to the tape at the fourth NYC Half-Marathon, just confident racing by defending champion Tadese Tola of Ethiopia and Britain's marathon World record holder and three-time ING New York City Marathon champion Paula Radcliffe.
Tola commanded the race from the gun. Although he ran the first seven miles through hilly Central Park at a blistering average of 4:34-per-mile pace, he asserted that he could have run faster than his 1:01:06 winning time, had he not suffered from muscle cramps in his left leg at 15K.
“I had to start fast to find myself some space,” said Tola. “It is hard to run by yourself, particularly in this climate, but I would have run at least a 59:00 if I didn’t injure myself.”
American half marathon record-holder and 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials runaway champion Ryan Hall of Mammoth Lakes, CA, ran in the chase pack with three-time Olympian and USA 10K champion Abdi Abdirahman of Tucson, AZ, but moved up to second place at mile 11. But Moroccan Ridouane Harroufi unleashed his brutal kick with just over one mile to go, finishing as the runner-up in 1:02:33, and Hall took third in 1:02:35.
“The humidity was tough—it reminded me of Beijing,” said Hall. “But I’m really pleased with where I’m at and my rhythm felt good. I think I should be able to hold this pace twice over on November 1 (at the ING New York City Marathon).”
No less aggressive than Tola was Radcliffe, who led the women through the undulating terrain of Central Park at a relatively consistent 5:15-per-mile pace. But as Radcliffe made her way down the West Side Highway toward Battery Park, she was the only woman in sight, and she broke the tape in 1:09:45, just two seconds off the course record. Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia was the second-place finisher in 1:11:04, and defending champion and NYC Half course record-holder Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was third in 1:11:56.
A late entry to the race, Radcliffe used the NYC Half as test to judge whether she has the endurance to run the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Berlin next weekend.
“I need to see how I pull out of this race—my legs felt heavier in the last couple of miles than I would like,” said Radcliffe. “Cardiovascularly, I felt good, but I would like to see my foot doctor, my physio, and see how I recover over the next few days before I make the decision about running the marathon in Berlin.”
Radcliffe had not raced since her victory at the ING New York City Marathon 2008 last November; she underwent bunion surgery on her right foot in March. The NYC Half was her first-ever half-marathon in the United States.
NYRRC for the IAAF