Zekiros will come into the race confident she can achieve a hat-trick of victories. After her second consecutive win in Arizona last January, she produced two outstanding performances in 2008 when finishing runner-up in both the Rotterdam and Amsterdam marathons.
One of her main challengers Salomie Getnet knows how it is to be knocked off the top of the podium, she herself has finished second in the last two editions of the race. The European challenge will likely come from Olena Shurkhno of Ukraine, who is no stranger to victory having won on six separate occasions over the distance including the Country Music Marathon in 2007.
Local support will be for Tempe’s own Sally Meyerhoff who debuted at last year’s race and qualified for the Olympic Trials in Boston. This year she will be hoping to attack her PR and put on a good show in front of her friends and family.
The Men’s field is deep and boasts talents from seven different countries. There will also be an additional competition taking place in conjunction with the race. U.S. marathoner Josh Cox will not only be running in the marathon, but will also attempt to set a world best and American record at 50 kilometers (31.05 miles). After running the entire length of the marathon course, he will continue into the adjacent ASU Sun Angle stadium, where he will run over 18 laps on the 400 meter track surrounding the event’s family reunion area. The entire course is USATF and IAAF certified.
“Elite Racing and the Competitor Group put on first class events across the nation. I’m thrilled to be taking part in P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona and am particularly excited to be taking a shot at the 50K record,” said Cox, who is currently living and training in Mammoth Lakes, CA. “The marathon is grueling enough by itself, tack on an additional five miles and things should really get interesting. My training has been going well, but I’m excited to get down to sea level. I’m definitely ready to rock and roll.”
On defending his title Mike Aish said: “I’m delighted to come back to Arizona, it’s always a great race and great occasion, training has gone well but I’m really looking forward to getting out of this cold Colorado winter and into some warm weather.”
Aish’s victory last year may have come as a shock for many observers, but a victory in a big city marathon had been coming for some time after consistent performances over his marathon career. For Aish to make it a double in Arizona, he will once again have to be in top form as he faces some great talent from across the globe.
Making his marathon debut this weekend will be Moses Kigen of Kenya. Moses owns a PR of 1:00:37 for the half marathon which shows that he definitely has the speed and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the distance.
Other contender’s include Ethiopian trio Araya Haregot, Tesfaye Bekele, Tekeste Kebede and Kenya’s Fred Mogaka all of whom are capable of claiming victory. The entire field of elite athletes will be introduced during the prerace Health & Fitness Expo Friday afternoon at 2:15 pm.
Individuals interested in participating in the special 50k competition should contact Tracy Sundlun at email@example.com.
About the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona
Entering its sixth year as one of the nation’s premiere running events, the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon expects to welcome more than 33,000 runners and walkers to the Valley of the Sun in 2009. The marathon and half-marathon offer fast, flat scenic courses that start in downtown Phoenix, run through Scottsdale and finish at Arizona State University in Tempe. Seventy live bands and 40 local high school cheer squads are staged approximately every mile along the 13.1-mile and 26.2-mile courses. The event concludes with an evening Headline Concert in Tempe featuring Smash Mouth. All participants receive a free concert ticket with their race entry.
A two-day Health & Fitness Expo kicks off race week at the Phoenix Convention Center On Fri., Jan. 16 and Sat., Jan. 17. All participants visit the expo to pick up their race numbers and browse the 100-plus vendor booths from the running and fitness industry. To register for the race or for more information about the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon, visit www.RnRaz.com or call 800-311-1255.
About The Competitor Group
Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI), headquartered in San Diego, CA, is the leading media and event entertainment company dedicated to the endurance sports industry of running, cycling and triathlons. CGI is comprised of the following brands: Competitor Publishing, Elite Racing, Inside Triathlon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, Triathlete Magazine, VeloNews and VeloPress. CGI owns and operates 25 national events delivering more than 250,000 professional and amateur participants in 2009. CGI publishes four magazine titles with a combined monthly circulation of approximately 650,000 and plans to launch an endurance community web presence under competitor.com in Q2 2009. Further information about Competitor and its media properties can be found at www.competitor.com.