Rhines, Frey to Run More/Fitness Half Marathon

Jen Rhines wins the 2011 U.S. half marathon championship. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Over 8,000 women will turn out for the race.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission

NEW YORK — Three-time Olympian Jen Rhines and two-time USA Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Michelle Frey have committed to the ninth annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, April 15, in Central Park, New York Road Runners officials announced Thursday.  The event, which draws a field of over 8,000 runners, is the nation’s largest half marathon exclusively for women.

“The More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon is a powerful race that celebrates strong, active, and spirited women,” said race director Mary Wittenberg, who is also the Road Runners’ president and CEO, through a statement.  ”Jen and Michelle bring world-class talent and grace to the race, and they are extraordinary role models for women runners everywhere.”

Rhines, 37, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., has made three USA Olympic teams at three different distances.  She competed in the 10,000 meters in Sydney in 2000, the marathon in Athens in 2004, and the 5000 meters in Beijing in 2008.  Rhines has also competed in five IAAF World Championships in Athletics (2001, ’05, ’07, ’09, and ’11) and has won many U.S. titles on the track and the road.  She is the reigning national half-marathon champion and has a 1:11:14 personal best.  She’ll be using the More/Fitness race to help her prepare for the USA Olympic Trials in June, where she’ll try to make her fourth Olympic team.

“I’m looking forward to returning to the streets of New York next month for the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon,” said Rhines in a statement, who competed in last November’s ING New York City Marathon but was unable to finish.  ”I anticipate there will be great energy among the thousands of women that will compete in the nation’s largest all women’s half marathon.  I’m excited to tackle the hills of Central Park as I build my strength for the Olympic Track Trials in June.  It will be a great weekend to enjoy the camaraderie and celebrate womens’ running.”

Frey, 29, of Minneapolis, will celebrate her 30th birthday on the date of the race.  In January, she finished 22nd in a field of 152 finishers at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. Frey, running under her maiden name of Michelle Lilienthal, finished third at the USA Half Marathon Championships in 2007, clocking her personal-best time of 1:12:46.

“I’ve always wanted to compete in the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon, so I’m extremely excited to be racing it for the first time,” said Frey.  ”I love the energy in New York City, and Central Park is one of my all-time favorite places to run. That, combined with the largest all-women’s half-marathon in the country, will make for a really special day!  I can’t wait!”

Today’s announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of the death of 2010 race champion Sally Meyerhoff, who was struck by a truck last year while training on her bicycle near her home in Maricopa, Ariz.  Meyerhoff, who was 27 at the time of her death, won the More/Fitness race remains the event record holder (1:14:40).  Beginning in 2011, the winners of the race receive “The Meyerhoff,” trophy.

Television host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, 34, of “The View” will serve as the event’s host this year, and will also run the race.  She will be running with Team NOGII to raise money for Celiac Disease research.  Hasselbeck competed in the race last year, too, clocking 1:44:32.

The race will begin at 8:00 a.m., on Central Park’s West Drive near 63rd Street.  Race details are available http://www.morefitnesshalf.com/.

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