Meb Keflezighi Sets 20k American Record En-Route To Winning 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon In San Jose

Meb Keflezighi wins the race in 1:01:00. Photo: Ollie Neglerio/Lester Cacho

Perfect Running Weather and Fast Course Provides a Fast Race for 4th Annual Bay Area Event

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California’s fastest half-marathon lived up to its billing Sunday as American Meb Keflezighi set a new U.S. 20k record and bettered his personal best by 25 seconds winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in a time of 1:01:00. Keflezighi’s 20k split of 57:52 broke Ryan Hall’s standing 20K record of 57:54 set in 2006.

“The other runners looked like they were struggling with the 4:30 pace early on, so I decided to leave the pack and go on my own,” said Keflezighi, who pulled a way from the pack just after mile 3, competing in a showdown against the clock. “It was a great atmosphere out there today; I just wanted to maintain a solid pace through 10 miles and then see what I had left. I ran a personal best by 25 seconds and I’m 34, so I am very excited with my performance.”

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A 19-time U.S. Champion, Keflezighi’s half-marathon time ranks him number three all-time on the American list for a record standard course. He sits behind only Mark Curp’s 1:00:55 from 1985 and Ryan Hall’s American record 59:43 from 2007.

“As Roger Craig said ‘I did it today’ and it’s just nice to be healthy. I’m ready for New York and look forward to continuing my marathon training,” added Keflezighi, whose pending 20k record reclaimed the title he held before Hall. “My long term goal is London 2012 and I still I have a marathon PR in me and today’s race proved that age doesn’t mean a thing.”

Belainesh Gebre took the women's title. Photo: Ollie Neglerio/Lester Cacho

The women’s race was led by Belainesh Gebre of Ethiopia who crossed the line in 1:11:24. Bay Area resident Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, who made her Olympic debut for the U.S. in Beijing, finished a close second with a new personal best of 1:11:46. Her previous half-marathon best of 1:11:47 was set in 2008.

“Last week was a high mileage week and I didn’t feel that great out there,” said Lewy-Boulet, who is training for the ING New York City Marathon. “I skipped the World Half Marathon Championships to run here in my backyard because I wanted to support our local race. I set a personal best which is great, and I’ll be back next year.

On a perfect fall morning that dawned with clear blue skies, the 4th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon kicked off one California’s fastest road races, the site of both the men’s and women’s half marathon records for the State of California.

Runners from 44 states and 11 countries participated in the race, including a group of California’s fastest runners, who competed in the event’s first California Cup. Three-time Super Bowl Champion Roger Craig completed his fourth straight San Jose race in a time of 1:48:27. He was followed by soccer star Brandi Chastain running for her third straight year in 1:59:03.

All race participants enjoyed a wide variety of entertainment along the tree-lined course, with bands and cheerleaders at each mile to keep the energy high. The Finish Line Festival at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose kept the party atmosphere going with free MGD 64 for all of-age participants and a headliner concert with Grammy-winning blues and jazz artist Jonny Lang.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon will celebrate its 5th Anniversary in San Jose on October 3, 2010. For more information, please visit www.runrocknroll.com.

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2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Results
Men (Place, Name, Location, Time)
1. Meb Keflezighi, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 1:01:00
2. Bolota Asmerom, Oakland CA, 1:03:06
3. Charlie Serrano, Chico, CA, 1:04:20
4. Luke Humphrey, Sidney, MI, 1:05:03
5. Chris Chavez, Menlo Park, CA, 1:05:13

Women (Place, Name, Location, Time)
1. Belainesh Gebre, Flagstaff, AZ, 1:11:24
2. Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, Oakland, CA, 1:11:46
3. Jenny Wilson, Discovery Bay, CA, 1:22:38
4. Dena Evans, Redwood City, CA, 1:22:50
5. Tracey Freyre, Oakland, CA, 1:23:00

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