Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego: Kastor Leads U.S. Women

Deena Kastor headlines this weekend's Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in San Diego. Photo: www.photorun.net

The American running legend will run Sunday’s half-marathon in southern California.

SAN DIEGO — At the age of 40, Deena Kastor shows no signs of slowing down.

The very active Kastor competed Monday in the BolderBoulder 10K before heading to San Diego for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and Marathon on Sunday. Later this summer, she will represent the United States in the marathon at the World Championships in Moscow.

“I am thrilled to return to San Diego and compete at this year’s half-marathon,” she said. “San Diego is the birthplace of the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series, so joining the thousands of runners at the starting line is a great way to honor the event.”

Kastor owns the two fastest half-marathon performances by an American, a 1:07:34 at Berlin in 2006 and a 1:07:53 at Philadelphia in 2005. No other American woman has broken 1:08. She also has the two fastest marathons by an American — a 2:19:36 at London in 2006 and a 2:21:16 at London in 2003.

RELATED: Kastor Added To Worlds Team

The imperturbable Kastor also holds American records for 8K, 12K, 10 miles and 20K, along with numerous other distinctions. She was the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon. She was the U.S. 10K and 15K champion four times each. She won the 2005 Chicago Marathon. She won the Carlsbad 5000 in 2002, setting a then world’s best of 14:54, which still stands as the American record. She is a two-time world cross country silver medalist, and she was the 2001 U.S. marathon champion with the then fastest American debut (2:26:58).

Of all the races she’s run, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series remains among her favorites. “I really love the Rock ‘n’ Roll events,” she said. “The combination of music [at various points along the course] and running is fun. The Rock ‘n’ Roll half is a reward. I love this distance. It’s a fun event to be a part of. In the marathon there are so many factors and attention to detail. [In the half] I feel I can run fast. I can be a little reckless and a lot more aggressive and not have to pay the price. The half doesn’t catch up to you.”

Matthew Turnbull, the elite athlete coordinator for the Competitor Group, Inc., says Kastor is still a runner to be reckoned with on the world level.

“She still wants to be competitive,” he said. “She keeps training and still can be one of the best in the world. I will admit I don’t think she can run 1:06 or 1:07, but she has run some halfs in 1:10 and 1:11.”

RELATED: Meet Matthew Turnbull

Kastor will have to be very fast to beat an impressive field of foreigners. That group includes the unrelated Kiplagats of Kenya, Edna and Florence, and Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado.

Edna Kiplagat, 33, is the 2011 world marathon champion and won the Los Angeles and New York City Marathons in 2010. The mother of two is coached by her husband, Gilbert Koech, and has a half-marathon PR of 1:07:41, set at the Great Northern Run last year. She also has won the 2006 Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, the 2007 Lilac Bloomsday Race, the 2007 Bay to Breakers and this year’s Lisbon Half Marathon, giving her the lead in the Half Marathon Grand Prix.

Florence Kiplagat, 26, is a two-time world champion, winning the 2009 World Cross Country Championship and the 2010 World Half Marathon Championship. Before winning the world half-marathon title three years ago, she made her debut at that distance at Lille and ran 1:07:40. Married to Moses Mosop, the Chicago Marathon course record-holder, Kiplagat lowered her half-marathon best to 1:06:38 at the Roma Ostia race last year. This year, she ran 1:07:13 at the RAK Half-Marathon in February.

The 29-year-old Dado won the 2011 New York City Marathon 2:23:15 and the 2012 New York City Half-Marathon in a course record 1:08:35. Her other victories include the Rome City Marathon three straight times (2009-11), the 2010 Frankfurt Marathon and the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, where she broke Joan Benoit Samuelson’s 24-year-old course record.

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