NEW YORK (16-Feb) -- A quartet of American marathon stars will open their spring racing season here at
the NYC Half, the New York Road Runners announced today. Desiree Davila, Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi
and Dathan Ritzenhein will all take part in the March 18, race which has been expanded to 15,000 runners this year
and will be contested for the first time on a record-standard course.
"We are ecstatic to welcome four of America's brightest running stars to NYC," commented the NYRR's
president and CEO Mary Wittenberg through a news release. "New Yorkers and runners and fans everywhere
will no doubt be awed as this spirited foursome races through the city streets on their 'Road to London.'"
Davila, Goucher and Keflezighi have already secured their Olympic Team berths after the USA Olympic
Marathon Trials in Houston last month. Davila and Goucher finished second and third, respectively, in
the women's race, while Keflezighi won the men's. Ritzenhein finished fourth, and will attempt to make
his third Olympic team by qualifying in the 10,000m at the USA Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., in June.
Goucher, Keflezighi and Ritzenhein have all run the NYC Half before, but for Davila --who has a
half-marathon personal best of 1:10:34-- this will be her first.
"After the high of the Olympic Trials, followed by a bit of recovery time, it was important for me to
find a race that would get me excited to compete and motivated to train hard through the spring season,"
Davila said through a statement provided by the NYRR.
"The strong fields that NYRR traditionally puts together, along with the thrill of running through the
streets of New York, made the NYC Half the perfect opportunity."
Goucher, who has a half-marathon best time of 1:06:57, agreed. "This will be my first race after
making the 2012 Olympic team. I couldn't imagine a better place to start my run-up to the London
Games," said Goucher through prepared remarks, who finished third in the event last year.
Keflezighi, the 2009 ING New York City Marathon champion with a 1:01:00 half-marathon career best,
said he's anxious to race again on the streets of New York which have been so favorable for him
throughout his career. "NYRR events have been a big part of my professional career, so I am very
excited to start my 2012 Olympic Games buildup at the NYC Half," he said through a statement.
"I recovered well from the Olympic Trials and look forward to competing against the field."
Ritzenhein --who a ran 1:00:00 personal best at the 2009 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships where
he earned a bronze medal-- hopes that the NYC Half will provide him with the same boost for his track
season as it did for his Nike Oregon Distance Project teammates Mo Farah and Galen Rupp who finished
first and third, respectively, in the race last year. Both men went on to have terrific track seasons,
culminating in two world championships medals for Farah and a seventh place finish at the world
championships in the 10,000m for Rupp.
"Coming off the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, I need a big race to test my fitness but more importantly
to turn my focus to making the Olympic 10,000-meter team, and the NYC Half is the perfect step in
achieving that goal," Ritzenhein said in a written comment.
In addition to the Big Four, Wittenberg also said that other top Americans --Scott Bauhs (1:01:30 PB),
Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (1:10:59), Molly Pritz (1:11:05), Julie Culley (debut),
Jeannette Faber (1:14:19), and Stephanie Pezzullo (1:13:12)-- would also run the race.
This year's NYC Half will be held on a modified course which will allow for both a 50% increase in
the size of the field, and record-setting. Runners will begin at the southwest corner of Central
Park, run a counterclockwise loop of the park, head south on Seventh Avenue and through the heart of
Times Square, west on 42nd Street, south on the West Side Highway, through the tunnel under Battery
Park, then to the new finish line adjacent to the South Street Seaport. All of the action will be
captured live on WABC-TV which will broadcast the race for the first time.
The race has a $100,000 prize money purse, the largest of any half-marathon in the United States, with
$20,000 set aside for the race winners.
(Ed. note: Pandemic help is on the way, but not in time for a March …