Keflezighi To Headline NYC Half Marathon

Meb Keflezighi will headline a star-studded American field at the NYC Half Marathon on March 20. Photo: Jane Monti

Hall, Abdirahman will also be part of the field.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

NEW YORK — Meb Keflezighi will open his 2011 season at the New York City Half Marathon, leading a group of American stars including Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman, the New York Road Runners announced here today.  

“We are excited to welcome back to New York three of the best men American distance running has ever seen,” said New York Road Runners’ president and CEO Mary Wittenberg on a conference call with reporters today.  “It’s an honor to announce that Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman, and Meb Keflezighi will join us for the New York City Half Marathon on March 20.”

For Keflezighi, 35, the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medallist and the 2009 ING New York City Marathon champion, it will be his second appearance at the NYC Half Marathon.  He made his half-marathon debut at the event in its inaugural year in 2006, finishing second to Kenyan Thomas Nyariki in 1:01:28.  Keflezighi, who has mounted the podium three times at the ING New York City Marathon, clearly relishes running in the Big Apple.

“I’m just delighted to be healthy and race in my home away from home, New York City,” said Keflezighi, who lives and trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and is coached by Bob Larsen, his coach at UCLA.

Keflezighi said that he will prepare differently for the NYC Half Marathon than other half marathons he’s run in the past.  That’s because he will not be using the New York race as a lead-up for a marathon.  He’ll be doing somewhat lower weekly mileage and will do more speed work.

“This will be the first time I will solely concentrate on the half marathon with five weeks to go,” Keflezighi explained.  He added: “I’ll get back to the 5K/10K training.  I’m excited to run 100 miles a week, but I’m not doing 130.”

Keflezighi had hoped to do a spring marathon, preferably Boston, but that didn’t work out, he said.  Sidestepping a reporter’s question about why he won’t be starting in Boston, he said: “In terms of a spring marathon, we were hoping to do Boston, but things didn’t work out that way.”  He continued: “I would like to focus on the New York City Half Marathon now.  You can read more about it on my website on Thursday.”

By lining up Hall, the American record holder for the half-marathon distance with a 59:43 personal best, Abdirahman (60:29), and Keflezighi (61:00), Wittenberg has recruited three of the six-fastest American half marathoners of all time. The trio have not run in the same race on the same day since the 2009 ING New York City Marathon when Keflezighi finished first, Hall fourth, and Abdirahman ninth.

“I’m always excited to have my fellow Americans on the starting line,” Keflezighi commented.  “It’s pretty exciting to have the Americans there.”

The Road Runners had previously announced that 2007 IAAF World Championships 10,000m bronze medallist Kara Goucher would compete in the race, and Wittenberg announced today that two other promising Americans, Patrick Smyth and Serena Burla, would also compete.  Both Smyth and Burla finished second at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston last month.  Smyth has a career best time of 62:01 and Burla has run 70:08.  Both athletes will be making their NYC Half Marathon debuts.

Within the 50 States, the NYC Half Marathon offers both the largest half-marathon prize money purse ($100,000), and the largest first place prize of any road race shorter than the marathon distance ($20,000).  Last year’s winner, Peter Kamais of Eldoret, Kenya, ran the fastest half marathon in the United States last year (59:53).  The certified course begins with 10K loop of Central Park, then exits the Park at Seventh Avenue, runs through Times Square, west on 42nd Street, then south on the West Side Highway to the finish just north of Battery Park.  Organizers expect more than 10,000 runners on the starting line (the race had 11,493 finishers last year).

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