Testing fitness is an important part of any training cycle, and that is exactly what we will see American record holders Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor do this Sunday at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon. The Mammoth Lakes Track Club teammates came down from altitude for a chance to see how their training is progressing and find out if they are on track for their spring marathons.
Women’s Half Marathon
Kastor is by far the fastest woman in the field with her 1:07:34 personal best from Berlin in 2006. With the London Marathon her main goal for the spring season Kastor is hoping to run aggressively and see where she is at with her training. Looking to challenge the American record holder is 2009 US women’s marathon champion Ilsa Paulson from nearby Flagstaff, Ariz. Paulson has a personal best of 1:13:20, but will certainly look to lower that this weekend, especially if she wants to be anywhere near Kastor in the later stages.
Men’s Half Marathon
Hall, the American record holder at the distance with his 59:43 mark from Houston in 2007, will look to take the lead early and push the pace on his own. Although he is focusing on the Boston Marathon in April, Hall is using this race as a benchmark for his push towards new American record at the half marathon distance in New Orleans at Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras on February 28th. Looking to challenge Hall will be Canadian, and former Wisconsin Badgers star, Simon Bairu and American Luke Humphrey. Bairu has run 27:50 for 10,000m on the track and has competed on the international stage for Canada on multiple occasions. Humphrey, a member of the Brooks/Hanson’s Distance Project, has a personal best of 1:04:05 for the distance and will look to lower that in Arizona. Also in the mix will be American Olympian triathlete Matt Reed, who is known as a strong runner and should find himself in the top-10 overall.
Defending champion Olena Shurkhno of Ukraine is the defending champion, and will look to add another title to her resume in 2010. Shukhno also holds the fastest personal best in the field with her 2:30:18 from the Toronto Marathon in 2008. Selomie Getnet of Ethiopia has been runner-up in Arizona for the past three years, and hopes her fourth time is a charm. The young 23 year old Ethopian set her personal best of 2:33:08 here last year. American Sally Meyerhoff, a resident of Flagstaff, Ariz., was 5th at this race in 2009 and is the reigning US 25K champion. Meyerhoff set her personal best for the marathon at the 2009 US championships, where she clocked a 2:35:49, finishing 5th.
Christopher Torotich of Kenya, the recent winner of the 2009 Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, should be considered the favorite here. Countryman Meschack Kirwa and Ethiopian Terefe Yae will be Torotich’s biggest threats. Kirwa has a personal best of 2:11:45 and won the 2008 Rock ‘n’ roll San Antonio Marathon. Yae was the 2006 runner-up and 2007 champion at Arizona and took second to Torotich in Las Vegas this past December. Looking to make a mark on the scene is American Jeff Eggleston, who will debut for the marathon in Arizona. Eggleston has a personal best of 1:03:58 for the half marathon, and has run sub-30:00 for 10K on the roads.
We will be live all morning from Arizona, with full coverage of all the races. For all of your race day coverage, including our live stream and commentary, race recap, results and photos, be sure to check back to Competitor.com.