Deena Kastor content with sub-1:10 half marathon outing in Phoenix (ASI Photo) © Copyright
General News New York, USA

The 40th running of New York Mini will honour Grete Waitz

Four months after the birth of her first child, American marathon record holder and Olympic medallist Deena Kastor will make her return to racing at the NYRR New York Mini 10K on Saturday, 11 June.

The 40th running of the original women-only road race will be dedicated to five-time Mini champion Grete Waitz of Norway, who died 19 April following a long battle with cancer.

Kastor is part of a fabulous field featuring 12 Olympians as she opens her 2011 season following the birth of daughter, Piper Bloom, in February. She will toe the line with defending champion and reigning World 10,000m champion Linet Masai of Kenya, reigning World Marathon Majors champion Liliya Shobukhova of Russia, top British track athlete Jo Pavey, and New Zealand multiple record-holder Kim Smith. The ING New York City Marathon 2010 champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya and Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki, the silver medallist at the 2009 World Championships marathon, will also start.

Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands, a four-time champion of the NYRR New York Mini 10K, will also be back to take part. Kiplagat is third on the all-time victories list for this event, behind Waitz and Tegla Loroupe, who each won five times.

Kastor, 38, of Mammoth Lakes, is the American marathon record-holder (2:19:36, London, 2006). She earned the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Kastor is the most recent American Mini champion, having won in 2004 in 31:44. Eager to return to competition, Kastor is nonetheless realistic about her chances this year on the rolling 6.2-mile Central Park course.

“I am so excited to make my post-pregnancy racing debut at this year’s New York Mini. This race is a perfect fit to celebrate women and running, so it’s a great pleasure to return to the racing scene in New York City,” said Kastor, whose last race was the 2010 Virgin London Marathon. “After months of not being able to run while pregnant, it has been an exhilarating two and a half months of running again. Although I’m far from the fitness that I had when I won the race in 2004, I deeply look forward to being part of this year’s line-up.”

Masai, 21, raced to the title last year in 30:48, the fourth-fastest time in race history. She won the 10,000m at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

Shobukhova, 33, is the reigning World Marathon Majors champion, having won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2009 and 2010 and the 2010 Virgin London Marathon. She finished second in London this past April in a Russian national-record time of 2:20:15. Shobukhova has a 10,000m personal best time of 30:29.36, set in 2009.

Edna Kiplagat, 31, of Kenya (who is unrelated to Lornah Kiplagat), had third-place finishes at both the AJC Peachtree 10km and the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10km in 2010, in her build-up to her win in November’s ING New York City Marathon. In her most recent visit to New York, she was the runner-up at the NYC Half in March.

Pavey, 37, a three-time Olympian and one of the top British track athletes of all time, has transitioned to road racing in recent years. She is the national indoor record-holder at 3000 metres (8:31.50) and two miles (9:32.00) and set her 10,000m personal best at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she ran 31:12.30 to finish 12th.

Smith, 29, recently announced her intention to run the ING New York City Marathon this year; she finished fifth in 2010 in 2:29:28. In April, a calf injury forced her to drop out of the Boston Marathon after leading for more than 17 miles. Smith holds 12 New Zealand records at distances from the mile to the marathon.

Ozaki, 29, was the 2009 World Marathon Championships silver medallist. She set her 10,000m personal best, 31:47.23, in 2005.

Lornah Kiplagat, 37, won the last of her four Mini titles in 2007 when she finished the race in 32:10, eight seconds ahead of Smith. A two-time Olympian, Kiplagat is a four-time World Champion and the former holder of world road records in the 5km, 20km, and Half Marathon.

Organisers for the IAAF