Josh Cox Headlines Elite Fields In Denver

Josh Cox breaking the USA 50K record this past January in Arizona. Photo:

Nearly 15,000 will take part in marathon and half marathon.

Josh Cox breaking the USA 50K record this past January in Arizona. Photo:

An international field of elite athletes will lead nearly 15,000 runners on Sunday, October 9 at the second annual Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon & ½ Marathon.

Leading the marathon field is U.S. 50K record holder Josh Cox of Mammoth Lakes, CA. A four-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and three-time U.S. National Team member, Cox was named the USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week in January 2009. He received the honor again in January 2011 for winning the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon en route to breaking his own 50K American Record by three and a half minutes, running the second fastest time in history and missing the World mark by a mere 7 seconds.

“Competing in the Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon works great with our training schedule,” said Cox, who has won two Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons (in Las Vegas and Arizona). “Density and intensity are two key components in training and I’m coming off a 7-week base building block where I averaged 130 miles per week. Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver will mark the end of our base building phase for the Olympic Marathon Trials this coming January.”

At age 23, Cox ran his first marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego (2:19), making him the youngest qualifier for the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials. His other running accomplishments include a course record at the 2007 Air Force Marathon, winning the 2008 Rocket City Marathon, and a runner-up finish at the 2009 California International Marathon, (2:13). Challenging Cox in the marathon will be 2009 Denver Marathon champion Chris Siemers of Arvada, CO, who is hoping run under 2:19 to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January. Also in the field is 35-year old Jonathan Ndambuki of Kenya, who won the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon in June.

Headlining the men’s half marathon are Kenyans Bernard Langat and Jared Abuya. Langat ran his half-marathon best of 63:58 at Grandma’s Half Marathon earlier this year. Abuya, who lives in Gainesville, VA but is currently training locally, owns a half-marathon best of 62:59 and also won the 2007 ING Miami Half Marathon.  The top American challengers will be Josh Eberly, 9-time  All-American at Western State College; Jamie Calzada, who finished  3rd at the 2011 Boulder Marathon; and Jose Cholula and who finished second at the 2006 NAIA marathon championships.

Highlighting the women’s half marathon field are Romania’s Lidia Simon, Nuta Olaru and Anuta Catuna. The 38-year-old Simon took home the silver medal from the 2000 Olympic Marathon in Sydney.  The Colorado State Half Marathon record holder, Olaru has won four Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series titles and has represented Romania at ten different World Championship events and one Olympic Games. Catuna is the 1996 New York City Marathon Champion.

Leading the Colorado challenge will be Boulder’s Paige Higgins, who ran her personal best of 1:14:24 in Houston in 2009. Fort Collins resident Brianne Nelson returns to the roads after qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon last month. They’ll be competing against Katie Blackett of Boulder, who will be running in her third U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January.  The lead pack will also feature a large group of Boulder women who are aiming to run the sub-1:15 Olympic Trials qualifier. They are coached by former marathon world-record holder Steve Jones.

The current Colorado state records for the half marathon are 1:04:52, held by event operations director Alan Culpepper, and 1:13:28 by Olaru. The Colorado Marathon Records are 2:19:32 for the men and 2:41:05 for the women. The race begins at 6:55 am on Bannock Street in downtown Denver.

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