Professional field announced for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon
Watch a live webcast of the race Sunday morning at www.runrocknroll.com
Las Vegas, NV – An international field of elite athletes will lead more than 27,000 registered runners down the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, December 6 for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon powered by Zappos.com to benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.
Nearly seven and a half miles of world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard will be closed for the race, with the entire 13.1-mile half marathon course being run on the Las Vegas Strip. The revamped event, managed for the first time by San Diego-based Competitor Group, has been rebranded as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and drawn entrants from all 50 states and 39 countries.
With over 35 live bands interspersed with cheerleaders and themed water stations along each mile of the course, the race will embody the spirit of Las Vegas and feature a start line entertainment extravaganza, hundreds of running Elvi, and 85 couples getting married or renewing their vows during the ‘Run Through Wedding’ at the Eiffel tower in front of the Paris Resort. The race will be broadcast in Las Vegas on KLAS Channel 8, the local CBS affiliate, and offered live over the Internet on www.runrocknroll.com.
The main event will match the elite women against the elite men in a special ‘Battle of the Sexes’ format that awards the first marathon runner of either gender to cross the finish line a $10,000 bonus over and above the first place prizes of $15,000. The elite women will begin the race first, starting 19 minutes ahead of the men. Once the 19:00 gap has passed, the elite men will take off with the rest of the marathon field at 6:15 am and try to chase down the elite women. The first person to break the finish tape will earn $25,000.
“The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ format has re-energized race coverage, while bringing a rooting interest back to pro racing,” explained Running USA Hall of Fame announcer Toni Reavis, who will help call the race for KLAS-TV along with Olympians Ed Eyestone and Juli Henner. “The men will have to average better than 43 ½ seconds per mile to make up the time gap over 26.2 miles.”
Leading the men’s field is 25-year-old Kenyan Matthew Koech, who owns a sub-60:00 half marathon best. Las Vegas will mark his marathon debut, but he won the prestigious Berlin 25k in May with a time of 1:13:24, the seventh fastest time ever run for the distance. Leading the American contingent will be Justin Young, a Butler University graduate who recently represented Team USA in the marathon at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany. Young established himself as one of America’s elite distance runners in 2008 with a breakthrough performance at the Rotterdam Marathon, bettering his PR (personal record) by over five minutes to 2:13:54. Earlier this year, Young finished ninth at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in Houston with a personal best time of 1:03:25.
With a 2:06:36 marathon PR, France’s Benoit Zwierzchiewski – known as Benoit (Ben-wa) Z – owns the fastest time in the field. He has battled injuries the over the past couple of years, but is now healthy and anxious to challenge for the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ crown. Ethiopian-born Abebe Yimer won the 2008 Las Vegas Marathon and rounds out the men’s favorites. Yimer lives and trains locally in Las Vegas, and recently became as U.S. citizen.
The women’s elite field is lead by two runners with 2:26 PRs; Kenyan Alice Timbilili and Russian Alevtina Ivanova. Timbilili is a two-time world cross country medalist, who set her marathon PR of 2:26:39 in Paris last year. Ivanova also ran her PR last year, winning the Nagano marathon in Japan in 2:26:39.
“Las Vegas is going to provide a great backdrop for a fantastic challenge as the men chase the women down one of the most famous streets on the globe,” said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete coordinator for the race. “We have some great talent from all over the world, and it should be exciting to watch it unfold.”
Headlining the men’s half marathon is 2009 Carlsbad 5000 road champion Bekana Daba of Ethiopia, who is making his debut in the half marathon. Daba has run a sensational 12:59 over 5,000m, with sub-13:00 being the gold standard for 5000m track racing. The top American will be Fernando Cabada, former winner of the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville. Cabada also recorded the ninth fastest debut marathon ever by an American with a time of 2:12:27.
Olympic triathlete Matt Reed will compete in the half marathon and challenge the field of international distance runners. Matt won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games, and has won six triathlons this year including the Miami International, Oceanside 70.3, Pan American Championships, Rev3 Half-Ironman, Lifetime Fitness Minneapolis, and the Chicago Triathlon.
Highlighting the women’s half marathon field is Ethiopia’s Werknesh Kidane, winner of eight individual medals at the World Cross Country Championships, and 2005 champion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, where she ran her PR of 1:09:38.
Kidane will be challenged by rising American stars Desireé Davila and Sally Meyerhoff. Davila runs with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Michigan and represented the USA at the World Championships in Berlin over the summer. Meyerhoff set her 1:12:52 PR for the half marathon at the 2008 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose ½ Marathon. Also expected to contend is Katerina Stetsenko of Ukraine, who recently won the 2009 Dublin Marathon.
The professional field of elite runners will be introduced at the event press conference on Friday, December 4 at 11:o0 am in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, adjacent to the Performance Expo in Bayside Hall–C. Limited registration for both the marathon and half marathon will be available at the Performance Expo from 11:30 am – 7:00 pm Friday, December 4 and 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Saturday, December 5. For more information, please visit http://las-vegas.competitor.com or call (800) 311-1255.