Celebrating its 40th edition the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon once again presents a world-class elite invitational field. The event hits the streets of Philadelphia on Sunday morning, Sept. 17. The flat-and-fast course starts at the foot of the iconic “Rocky steps” of the Philadelphia Art Museum and winds along the city’s scenic Schuylkill River.
Leading the charge will be Galen Rupp, one of the greatest American distance runners of his generation. The 31-year-old, who lives and trains in Portland, Ore., is an Olympic silver (10,000m) and bronze medalist (marathon) and a nine-time national champion. Rupp’s personal best for the 13.1-mile distance is a mind-blowing 1 hour and 30 seconds, which equates to running an average pace of 4:34 per mile.
Rupp will square off against fellow American Olympian Jared Ward, who was Rupp’s Olympic marathon teammate in Rio last year. Ward ran his personal best for the marathon there in 2:11:30, in less-than-favorable conditions, where he finished sixth overall. Ward’s fastest half marathon is 1:01:42 and he also owns top-10 finishes at both the Chicago and Boston Marathons.
Other highly touted competitors are Japan’s Muryo Takase who owns a half-marathon persona best of 1:01:57 and has run 1:02:55 this season, American Tyler Mueller of Boulder, Colo., who owns a best of 1:03:21, and HOKA Northern Arizona Elite’s Marty Hehir, who is attending medical school in Philadelphia and has set PRs in the 3,000 meters (7:49), 5,000 meters (13:29) and 10,000 meters (28:08) over the past year.
In the women’s race, 2010 event champion Meseret Defar returns to the course where she debuted in the half marathon back in 2010. Defar’s showing that year was incredible with a 1:07:45, which at the time was the fastest half marathon ever run on U.S. soil. Defar’s running career has been phenomenal with two Olympic gold medals over 5,000 meters as well as 12 medals from various world championships.
On Sunday Defar will be toeing the line next to Jordan Hasay of the United States, who finished third at the Boston Marathon in April. Hasay owns an incredible personal best of 1:07:55, which is the third-fastest time ever by an American woman in the half marathon. The stacked field also features Boston Marathon Champions Caroline Rotich of Kenya and Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia, along with a pair of formidable Japanese contenders Reia Iwade and Miyuki Uehar.
“It’s great to welcome such a stellar elite field to the 40th edition of the Philadelphia Half Marathon. The race can boast world and American records and the quality on show this Sunday certainly reflects the history of the event,” said Matthew Turnbull, elite athlete coordinator. “It will be intriguing to see how Jordan fairs as she continues her build up to next month’s Chicago Marathon against marathon major victors Rotich and Deba. Plus you have one of the greatest of all-time Defar, a former champion who has run 67:45 on this course and is in great shape after recovering from a long injury lay off.”
The race will begin Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on the Ben Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The flat-and-fast course is extremely picturesque, traversing City Hall, Market Street, Schuylkill River, Falls Bridge and ending back in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval. Live coverage will be available on Facebook and twitter @RunRocknRoll.
Event weekend will feature two days of running with the half marathon on Sunday and the AACR Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K and 10K on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., respectively. Participants can take the “Remix Challenge” by running both Saturday and Sunday to earn the coveted Remix Challenge medal in addition to each race’s finisher medals. In true Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion, live bands, enthusiastic cheerleaders and spectators will line the race route, concluding with a celebratory finish line festival and post-race Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series headlined by Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Fairmount Park.
For more information, visit RunRocknRoll.com/Philadelphia.