Shalane Flanagan To Headline Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago

Flanagan will lead 20,000 runners in the Windy City. Photo: PhotoRun.net

America’s top marathoner will lead the 5K on July 19 and race the half marathon on July 20. 

Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan will lead two days of running at the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Festival in Chicago the weekend of July 18-20. America’s top female marathoner will warm up with runners at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K on Saturday and then compete at the 6th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon presented by HumanaVitality on Sunday. Both events start and finish at Grant Park in downtown Chicago.

“From the Billy Joel concert on Friday night at Wrigley Field to Saturday’s 5K and Sunday’s half marathon, it’s going to be an incredible weekend in Chicago,” said Flanagan, who set her half-marathon personal record (PR) of 1:08:31 at Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans last year. “This will be my first step towards a marathon this fall and I’m excited to see where my fitness is at after my recent training in Park City. It will also be a treat for me to shakeout with the Chicago running community at the 5K on Saturday while enjoying the amazing views of the downtown skyline along the city’s beautiful lakefront.”

PHOTOS: Shalane Flanagan Career Highlights

In its sixth year as Chicago’s premier half marathon, the event will welcome more than 20,000 runners over race weekend. For the first time in 2014, race weekend will include two days of running with 5K events taking place on Saturday and Sunday. All finishers will earn a medal in each race, however runners who participate in both Saturday and Sunday’s events will earn a special Remix Challenge medal to commemorate their accomplishment.

“To have Shalane Flanagan, one of America’s best runners, earn the first ever Remix Challenge medal is truly going to be something special,” said Tracy Sundlun, SVP and co-founder of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “Chicago has one of the most passionate running communities in the world and some of the most knowledgeable fans in the sport. With two days of running and multiple concerts taking place in the city, it’s going to be a summertime celebration unlike any other.”

One of the best female long-distance runners in U.S. history, Flanagan recently finished seventh at the 2014 Boston Marathon in 2:22:02, the fastest time ever recorded by an American woman in Boston’s 118-year history. Her time was a PR by more than three minutes.

A Colorado native who became a prep running star in Massachusetts, Flanagan won back-to-back NCAA cross country championships in 2002 and 2003 at the University of North Carolina. She won a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. In 2010, Flanagan finished second in the New York City Marathon and in 2012 she won the U.S. Olympic Trials record in 2:25:38, only her second marathon.

Other contenders in the women’s race include Lindsey Scherf (1:11:45) of Chapel Hill, N.C.; Danish Olympian Jessica Draskau-Petersson (1:12:52) and USATF Masters Marathon Champion Nuta Olaru (1:08:59), a former runner-up at the Chicago Marathon. The women’s event record is 1:08:05 by Kara Goucher—Flanagan’s former training parner—in 2008, when she finished in first place overall.

Festival weekend kicks off with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place on Friday, July 18, where participants pick up their t-shirt and race number. The new Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K on Saturday, July 19 starts at 8 AM. Each running event will include a post-race beer garden, entertainment on course and a finish line celebration party.

Sunday’s races begin at 6:30 AM at the intersection of Columbus Dr. and Monroe, with the course running on the streets of downtown Chicago. The fast, flat course passes many of the city’s famous landmarks and unique architecture. After crossing the finish line, runners will join family and friends at the concert headlined by the Cold War Kids in Grant Park.

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