The 2009 Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va. will host the race’s first team challenge, a competition among some of the top distance-running nations in the world. Teams form Kenya, Ethiopia, Europe, Japan and the United States will fight for more than $30,000 in team prize money. Elite athlete coordinator Matt Turnbull said of the format, “The half marathon distance is the most competitive in the sport. The International Team Challenge will pit some of the world’s best runners in a team competition to find the best half marathon road racing team in the world.” The format of the competition will feature cross country-type scoring. The top two finishers from each team will have their places count towards the team’s point total, with the lowest combined score winning.
Featured in the men’s race will be the favorites from Kenya, including Linus Mayo (1:02:40 PR), William Chebor (1:01:06 PR) and Samuel Ndereba (1:02:47 PR). Europe will be led by 2008 Olympian Andrew Lemoncello of Great Britain, who has a PR of 1:01:51 over the distance. The United States will be led by Brooks/Hansons Distance Project team member Luke Humphrey of Rochester Hills, Mich., who was 11th at the 2008 ING New York City Marathon.
The women’s race will also feature some stiff competition, led by the African nations of Kenya and Ethiopia. Kenya will be represented by Edith Masai and Edna Kiplagat, both former champions at Virginia Beach. Ethiopia’s will include Abebu Gelan Adugna(1:07:57 PR), the young 19-year-old is the reigning Ethiopian Junior National Cross Country Champion. The United States women’s team will feature two locals in Natalie Sherback and Suaannah Kvasnicka. Sherback is a Virginia Beach native and graduate of Virginia Tech, where she was a two-time ACC 10,000m champion. Kvasnicka is a native of Great Falls in Northern Virginia and winner of the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon.