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California’s Fastest Half Marathon Returns to San Jose

More than 14,000 runners to participate in the 7th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, 2012 features addition of sold-out 5-mile ‘Mini-Marathon’; Matt Nathanson to headline post-race concert at the Plaza De Cesar Chavez

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A race renowned for its fast course and personal records once again welcomes a stellar elite field leading more than 14,000 entrants at the 7th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon on Sunday, October 7, 2012. Known as California’s fastest half marathon, the event is home to both of the current California state half-marathon records: 1:00:22, set by Kenya’s Duncan Kibet in 2006, and 1:09:17, established by Silvia Skortsova of Russia in 2006.

“The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon has become a Bay Area running tradition,” said Roger Craig, race co-founder and a 3-time Super Bowl Champion with the San Francisco 49ers. “This year is our largest event ever, which is truly a testament to how the community supports this great race.  I’m excited to see so many participants out celebrating a healthy and active lifestyle, and welcome all of the athletes who annually return to San Jose on the first weekend in October.”

Recovering from an impressive fourth place finish at the Olympic Marathon in London, three-time defending champion Meb Keflezighi will not return to the starting line in 2012. But Keflezighi’s teammate at the Mammoth Track Club, Scott Bauhs, from nearby Danville, Calif., headlines the elite field this year as he prepares to make his marathon debut alongside Keflezighi at the ING New York City Marathon next month.

An eight-time NCAA Division II All-American at Chico State, Bauhs burst onto the professional running scene in San Jose with a first place finish at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot just five days after winning the DII national cross country title in 2008. He owns the fastest half-marathon PR in the field at 61:30, which he ran in Houston this past January, the second fastest time run by an American this year.

Bauhs can expect challenges from Simon Bairu of Canada, a two-time NCAA cross country champion while at the University of Wisconsin with a PR of 1:02:08; Aleksey Sokolov of Russia, who represented his country at the 2008 Summer Olympics, is two-time champion of the Dublin Marathon and Russian marathon record holder; Sergio Reyes of Palmdale, Calif., who represented Team USA in the marathon at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea last year and recently won the Heritage Oaks Bank 10K; and Josphat Boit, a four-time All-American at the University of Arkansas who won Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathons in New Orleans and St. Louis last year, and just last week became a U.S. citizen.

Like Bauhs, both Bairu and Reyes are training for the New York City Marathon in November. The men’s field also includes 2010 USATF Trail Runner of the Year Mario Mendoza and Giliat Ghebray, an NCAA All American from University of California, Berkley who set his half-marathon PR of 1:03:38 in San Jose last year.

“My training has been going well and I have been using some local cross country races to keep me feeling sharp and ready for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose,” said Ghebray, who lives in Oakland. “I really loved the crowd support during this event, as the spectators helped me stay on track as I ran alone for a good majority of the second half. This year I know I am ready to put forth a good effort and looking forward to toeing the line.”

Sunday’s entrants headlining the women’s field include Eri Okubo of Japan, who finished fourth at this year’s Tokyo Marathon in a personal best of 2:26:08; Natalie Sokolova of Russia, winner of the Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal Half Marathon in September; and Clara Horowitz Peterson, a five-time NCAA All-American at Duke University who trains locally with the Bay Area Track Club.

The flat, fast course starts at W. Santa Clara St. and Almaden Blvd. and finishes at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose. Live bands will play along every mile of the 13.1-mile course, along with local cheerleaders, to motivate and keep runners rocking the entire way.

Participants and their friends and family will celebrate their accomplishment at the finish line festival with a performance by Bay Area resident Matt Nathanson, known for his platinum selling smash hit “Come on Get Higher.” Nathanson recently released a new hit single “Modern Love” in June and will perform on the stage at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez immediately following the race.

For the first time in 2012, the event will include a 5-mile “Mini-Marathon” which is sold-out with more than 2,500 participants. However, half-marathon race registration is still available at the Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, October 5, from 1:00pm to 6:00pm and Saturday, October 6, from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The free expo is open to the public and will showcase the latest in running products, services and free samples from fitness experts as all registered runners pick up their race number, t-shirt and timing tag.

The 7th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon with a wheelchair invitational begins at 7:55am, followed by the half-marathon start at 8:00am. For more information, visit RunRocknRoll.Competitor.com/San-Jose  or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.