Hall to Defend Philadelphia Title vs. Glittering International Field
Historic U.S. half-marathon road race debuts Rock ‘n’ Roll format for 2010; sold-out, record field of 18,600 plus
PHILADELPHIA — The event has a new name, but its legendary pedigree lives on as defending champion Ryan Hall of the USA looks to repeat last year’s 1:01:52 victory at the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday, September 19.
Known as the Philadelphia Distance Run for 32 years, the legacy of the historic road race includes five World and three U.S. records. Last year, Hall, the U.S. half-marathon record holder (59:43, Houston 2007), became the first American-born male runner to win in Philadelphia since Mark Curp turned the trick in 1986. This year, Hall, 27, will use the race as his final tune up for an assault on the U.S. marathon record (2:05:38, Khalid Khannouchi, London 2002) at the October 10 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
“I am very excited to return to Philadelphia to run in the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon,” said Hall, who won last year’s race by four seconds over Kenya’s Samuel Ndereba. “Now that I have met Rocky, run the lightning fast course, heard the bands and experienced the energy on the streets of Philadelphia, I am even more eager to compete in this great race.”
Hall will be joined by fellow Stanford grad Brett Gotcher, the 2009 USA 20K champion. Gotcher, who competes for McMillan Elite out of Flagstaff, Arizona, represented the U.S. last year at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championship, and this January ran 2:10:36 to finish seventh at the Chevron Houston Marathon. It was the fourth fastest marathon debut ever by a U.S. runner.
The Americans will be formidably challenged, however, by a powerful field of international athletes led by Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri, a 2:05:30 marathoner who was second last year in the Chicago Marathon (2:06:04), Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country champion and #1 road racer of 2010 with wins at New York’s Healthy Kidney 10K, Atlanta’s Peachtree 10K, Cape Elizabeth, Maine’s Beach to Beacon 10K and the Falmouth Road Race 7 Mile on Cape Cod.
Also contending should be Australian Shawn Forrest, a University of Arkansas grad who finished second in the NCAA 10,000 meters last year, then took sixth in his professional road racing debut earlier this summer at the Beach to Beacon 10K; Shadrack Biwott of Kenya, a four-time All-American while running for the University of Oregon; Simon Bairu of Canada and the Oregon Track Club, a University of Wisconsin grad who bested Ryan Hall in winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half-Marathon this January, then broke the Canadian national record for 10,000m in May (27:23); and Irish Olympian Alistair Cragg, a two-time Olympian and seven-time NCAA champion while competing for the University of Arkansas.
“This year’s edition will be even more exciting than last year’s,” added Hall, a Mammoth Track Club member. “With the field that’s being assembled it is sure to be a flyer! Whoever gets to the finish line first will have to be in superb shape. My training is off to a very good start and having this half-marathon just three weeks till the Bank of America Chicago Marathon I should be even sharper than last year.”
Wildcards expected to challenge for podium finishes are the Kenyan trio of Matthew Kisorio, a sub-13:00 5000m runner on this year’s Samsung Diamond League track tour; McDonard Ondara, winner of the 2007 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, and Wesley Korir, who won his second consecutive LA Marathon last March in 2:09:19.
“The way you truly honor a champion is to assemble a field worthy of taking his title away,” said race historian Toni Reavis, who will call the race live with Olympian Carrie Tollefson at 8:00am (EDT) on Competitor.com. “Throughout its long history Philadelphia has gathered some impressive fields, but I can’t recall a year as strong as this one.”
A Competitor event, the sold-out ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon will welcome a record 18,600+ runners to the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday, September 19. Known for 32-years as the Philadelphia Distance Run, one of the premiere half-marathons in the world, the event has been rebranded as part of the nationwide Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. The 2010 race will feature live bands and cheerleaders entertaining participants along each mile of the historic 13.1 mile course, the home of five World and three U.S. records.
Event weekend kicks off Friday, September 17 with a free two-day Health & Fitness Expo at Philadelphia Convention Center, which is open to the public. The Expo, where all participants pick up their race number, will feature over 100 exhibitors with free samples, the latest in running apparel and a full schedule of interactive clinics. You can watch the men’s race LIVE on Competitor.com beginning at 8:00am EST. The event concludes Sunday afternoon with a finish line festival and post-race concert in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum at Eakins Oval. For more information, visit: philadelphia.competitor.com