Dita Ready To Rock Virginia Beach

Olympic gold medalist headlines field of more than 20,000; post-race concert by REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -  The event that helped turn its city around while starting the half-marathon boom will welcome more than 20,000 runners to the oceanfront streets of Virginia Beach for the 10th Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon presented by SunTrust on Sunday, September 5.

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Joining the ranks of Olympic medalists who have competed in Virginia Beach will be Beijing Olympic Marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita of Romania. Along with her crowning Olympic triumph in 2008, Dita won the 2005 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championship held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and also the 2004 Chicago Marathon. Her personal best for the half-marathon is 1:08:07, set en route at the 2006 Chicago Marathon.

“Many other athletes have told me often that the Virginia Beach race is one of their favorite events of the year, and I am looking forward to my first opportunity to compete there,” said Dita, known as an aggressive front-runner when in form. “It should be even more special this year, with the race’s 10th anniversary. It seems every year there is a very deep field of the top runners, so I expect the competition should be great in 2010.”

Chief among her rivals will be 28-year-old Samia Akbar of Herndon, VA. Akbar earned All-America honors and set eight school records while at American University. This past May, the 2009 Army Ten-Miler winner finished runner-up at the USA 25K Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Wearing bib #1 in the men’s race will be 2007 Chicago Marathon champion Patrick Ivuti of Kenya. Ivuti owns a half-marathon PR of 59:27 and has run faster than one-hour four times in his career. While Ivuti will be making his debut appearance in Virginia Beach, fellow Kenyan Yusuf Songoka returns for the fourth time in search of his first win after three straight podium finishes in 2005-07. Songoka arrives with confidence off a win and marathon PR of 2:08:55 earlier this year in Hannover, Germany. The Kenyan men will be challenged by a strong contingent of Japanese runners led by former 30K world record holder Takayuki Matsumiya.

“The roster of champions at Virginia Beach rivals any event over the last decade,” said Toni Reavis, race historian, who will be calling the race for FSN with Olympian Todd Williams. “This year VB rookies Dita and Ivuti take on the experienced hands of Olaru and Songoka. Bragging rights and prize purses are waiting to be harvested as the summer season gives way and the fall marathon countdown begins.”

While the U.S. 20K road championship is being contested in New Haven, Connecticut, the U.S. field in Virginia Beach will be led by John Crews, a three-time marathon winner who is attending graduate school in Raleigh, North Carolina. Crews won the North Carolina USATF Half Marathon Championship earlier this year with a PR of 1 hour, 5 minutes, 20 seconds. Local pride rests with Ryan Carroll of Portsmouth, VA, who earned DII All-American Honors on the track at Barton College and East Carolina University.

“We are looking forward to two close and exciting races,” said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator. “The form and personal records of the leading athletes in both the men’s and women’s field suggest they are all capable of running a quick and competitive contest.”

The Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon celebrates its tenth anniversary on Labor Day Weekend, Sunday, September 5, 2010 with more than 20,000 participants. Festivities begin with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Friday, Sept 3 and Saturday, Sept 4. The Health & Fitness Expo is free and open to the public, and features over 80 exhibitors with the latest in endurance sports gear and nutrition products. Online registration has closed, but there is still an opportunity to register in person at the expo.

On Sunday night, 70s and 80s super band REO Speedwagon and rock diva Pat Benatar will headline the post-race concert. For more information, please call at (800) 311-1255.

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