Haron Toroitich wins 2004 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
General News Virginie Beach, USA

Kenyan and Romanian success in Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Kenyan Haron Toroitich and Romania’s Nuta Olaru, were respectively the men’s and women’s winners of the fourth Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sunday (5 Sep).

By nipping fellow Kenyan Joshua Chelanga with his last stride – both were timed in 1:01:55 – the 26 year-old Toroitich earned a $US12,000 first place along with a $US25,000 musical marathon bonus awarded to the athlete who wins both the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon (January 11, 2004) and any of the other three musical races staged by Elite Racing in 2004.

“I will put up a building in Kenya and call it Virginia,” said the champion concerning what he’d do with his winnings. 

In the women’s competition, which began 15 minutes before the elite men and masses, Romania’s Nuta Olaru used a disappointing 13th place finish at last month’s Olympic Marathon in Athens to motivate her to a runaway win. She crossed the line in a time of 1:10:50.

“This was revenge for Athens and a great way to prepare for the Chicago Marathon in October,” admitted Olaru, who placed third here in 2002.

“I broke the pace after the first mile, because it was too slow,” said Olaru of her tactics.  “From there I was following the watch.”

Her lead swelled throughout the race, cresting to a 2:08 advantage at the finish, the largest margin of victory in event history.  Japan’s Ai Yamamoto, 1:12:58, took second with countrywoman Kiyoko Shimahara in third in 1:13:05.

In all, a total of $105,00 was awarded, the richest purse for a half marathon in the U.S. 

A record 16,000 entrants joined the elite fields on an overcast but blustery day along the Atlantic shoreline, including 600 from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training programme who raised a total of $1.2 million (net) for this year’s event. 

Sixteen cheer squads and over 20 bands lined the course to entertain and motivate the runners.  The evening capped off with a double headliner concert featuring Sugar Ray and Collective Soul.

Audra Fleming for the IAAF

Virginia Beach, VA
September 5, 2004

1, Haron Toroitich, 26, Kenya, 1:01:55,
2, Joshua Chelanga, 31, Kenya, 1:01:55,
3, Laban Kipkemboi, 26, Kenya, 1:02:25,
4, Yusuf Songoka, 25, Kenya, 1:03:22,
5, Christopher Cheboiboch, 27, Kenya, 1:03:32,
6, Paul Kosgei, 26, Kenya, 1:03:54,
7, William Chebon, 26, Kenya, 1:04:02,
8, Silvestor Mokeko, 34, RSA, 1:04:42,
9, Nephat Kinyanjui, 27, Kenya, 1:04:43,
10, Yoshihiro Yamamoto, 21, JPN, 1:04:51,

1, Nuta Olaru, 34, ROM, 1:10:50,
2, Ai Yamamoto, 26, JPN, 1:12:58,
3, Kiyoko Shimahara, 27, JPN, 1:13:05,
4, Beatrice Omanza, 30, KEN, 1:14:03,
5, Miho Ichikawa, 31, JPN, 1:14:25,
6, Akane Taira, 21, JPN, 1:15:01,
7, Elena Orlova, 34, RUS, 1:15:29,
8, Anastasia Ndereba, 29, KEN, 1:15:30,
9, Gladys Asiba, 27, KEN, 1:15:51,
10, Anuta Catuna, 34, ROM, 1:17:17.