FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Defending Champion Caroline Rotich and ING New York City Marathon 2011
Winner Firehiwot Dado Lead Global Contingent in NYC Half
Two-time New York City Marathon champion Marilson Gomes dos Santos and New
Zealand Olympian Kim Smith also part of commanding international field
racing on March 18
New York, March 1, 2012-Defending NYC Half champion Caroline Rotich of
Kenya and ING New York City Marathon 2011 winner Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia
will headline a global group of stars at the NYC Half on Sunday, March 18,
it was announced today by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary
Joining them on the starting line for this renowned race through Manhattan
will be two-time ING New York City Marathon champion Marilson Gomes dos
Santos of Brazil and New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith, whose half-marathon
time of 1:07:11 is the fastest ever run in the United States by a woman.
The international men's field also includes Moroccan Olympian Abderrahime
Bouramdane; Kenyan Peter Kirui, who competed in the 10,000 meters at the
2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea; 2011 IAAF World
Championships Marathon bronze medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia; Canadian
Olympian Eric Gillis, Wesley Korir of Kenya, runner-up at the 2011 Bank of
American Chicago Marathon; Ethiopian Olympian Deriba Merga, the 2009 Boston
Marathon champion; and Kenyan Samuel Chelanga, the NCAA 10,000-meter
record-holder. This group will get a strong challenge from the home
country: Previously announced were three world-class Americans: 2012
Olympic Trials Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi, two-time Olympian Dathan
Ritzenhein, and 2011 World Championships 10,000-meter runner Scott Bauhs.
Additional international women's pros include Mexican Olympian Madaí Pérez,
British Olympian Jo Pavey, Dutch Olympian Hilda Kibet, and Claire Hallissey
of Great Britain, a contender for the British Olympic team. Previously
announced were top American runners Kara Goucher and Desiree Davila (both
members of this year's U.S. Olympic Marathon team), Janet Cherobon-Bawcom,
Julie Culley, Jeannette Faber, and Stephanie Pezzullo.
NYRR's flagship half-marathon, in its seventh running, will feature a
race-record field of 15,000 runners and a thrilling new course. Also new
this year, WABC-TV will be airing the NYC Half live, beginning at 7:00
a.m., as part of NYRR's recently announced comprehensive television
agreement with ESPN/WABC-TV. The race will also be broadcast live on the
New York Road Runners website. Viewers can tune in at 7:00-9:00 a.m. EDT on
Sunday, March 18 to tv.nyrr.org. to watch the race coverage. The NYC Half
will again offer a prize purse of $100,000-the largest half-marathon purse
in the United States. The men's and women's champions will each earn
$20,000. The race continues to attract prominent professional athletes and
recreational runners from around the world.
"A dynamic field of stars continues to shine brighter with the additions of
Caroline, Firehiwot and Kim on the women's side, Marilson on the men's
side, and a number of other international notables in both races," said
Wittenberg. "In an Olympic year, the NYC Half will provide a thrilling
preview of many of our sport's finest as they continue on their ‘Road to
After winning the NYC Half in 2011 with a course-record time of 1:08:51,
defending champion Caroline Rotich, 27, of Kenya, will be on familiar
ground. Rotich also finished eighth in the ING New York City Marathon 2010,
and she ran 2:24:26-a personal best by five minutes-to take fourth place at
the 2011 Boston Marathon.
"Winning the NYC Half last year made me believe that anything is possible
if I train hard," said Rotich. "It made me believe that I can win more and
more. The first time I went to New York, it was so busy and it was too much
for me! But the more I go back, it gets easier and easier. I love all the
crowds that come out to watch in New York. Now, I'm really excited to go
back and try to defend my title."
Rotich will face fierce competition from reigning ING New York City
Marathon Champion Firehiwot Dado, 28, of Ethiopia, who finished in a
personal-best time of 2:23:15 in her New York City debut. Dado is also a
three-time winner of the Rome City Marathon.
"Since my victory at the ING New York City Marathon 2011, I have been
looking forward to returning to the streets of NYC to compete again," said
Dado. "I took a short break from training after my win and I have been
training very well. I am excited to return to NYC and be a part of the NYC
Half, and I look forward to experiencing the great hospitality of NYRR
Gomes dos Santos, 34, of Brazil, is comfortable on NYC streets, having
twice won the ING New York City Marathon (2006, 2008); he is the only South
American to win the race. Gomes has finished in the top 10 in the ING New
York City Marathon a total of four times, and last spring he finished
fourth at the Virgin London Marathon in a personal-best time of 2:06:34.
"I am excited to be returning to New York for the NYC Half," said Gomes.
"My two wins in the ING New York City Marathon have been the most important
victories of my running career, and last year the NYC Half prepared me well
for the personal best that I set in the Virgin London Marathon. I'm hoping
to run even faster in both races in this important Olympic year."
Kim Smith, 30, a native of Auckland who now lives in Providence, RI, broke
her own record for the fastest-ever half-marathon by a woman on U.S. soil
when she won the 2011 Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon in 1:07:11.
Smith has finished the ING New York City Marathon twice (2010, 2011),
placing fifth both times. She holds 12 New Zealand records at distances
from the mile to the marathon.
Other top international athletes in the field:
· Abderrahime Bouramdane, 34, of Morocco, finished fourth in the marathon
at last summer's World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. He has finished
fifth twice in the ING New York City Marathon (2008, 2009).
· Peter Kirui, 24, of Kenya finished sixth in the 10,000 meters at the 2011
IAAF World Championships. He has a half-marathon best of 59:40.
· Feyisa Lilesa, 22, of Ethiopia, is the 2011 IAAF World Championships
Marathon bronze medalist. He became the youngest man in history to break
2:06 for the marathon in 2010. (That distinction was later claimed by his
countryman Bazu Worku.)
· Eric Gillis, 31, of Canada, represented his country at the 2008 Beijing
Olympics at 10,000 meters. He was the 2007–2008 Canadian 10,000-meter
champion and has met the Canadian Olympic Committee's marathon standard of
2:11:28 for the 2012 Olympic Games.
· Wesley Korir, 29, of Kenya, is a University of Louisville graduate who
finished second in the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. He became the
first back-to-back winner of the Los Angeles Marathon in eight years when
he won in 2009 and 2010.
· Deriba Merga, 31, of Ethiopia, is former World Championships bronze
medalist and Boston Marathon champion (both in 2009) and the fastest man in
the field, with a 59:15 personal best in the half-marathon.
· Samuel Chelanga, 27, of Kenya, became one of only 11 men in history to
win back-to-back NCAA cross-country titles while running for Liberty
University in Virginia. He made his professional road racing debut at the
BAA 10K last June, finishing fourth.
· Madaí Pérez, 32, of Mexico is her country's marathon record-holder
(2:22:59) and has twice been on the podium at the NYC Half.
· Jo Pavey, 38, of Great Britain, is a three-time Olympian and one of the
top female British track and field athletes of all time. She has
transitioned into the road-racing scene in recent years: She won the 2011
Bupa London 10,000 and finished ninth at the ING New York City Marathon
· Hilda Kibet, 30, of the Netherlands, is a Dutch Olympian and the 2007 NYC
· Claire Hallissey, 28, of Great Britain, finished sixth in the 2011 Bank
of America Chicago Marathon. She will run this year's Virgin London
Marathon in an attempt to secure the third and last spot on the British
Olympic women's marathon team.
The NYC Half will offer runners a spectacular tour of Manhattan as they
race through Central Park, Times Square, the Hudson River waterfront, and
lower Manhattan en route to the scenic South Street Seaport finish line. At
the Post-Race Festival Presented by Poland Spring, there will be
refreshments, entertainment by Irish rockers Black 47 and the Shinbone
Alley Stilt Band, treatments supplied by the Swedish Institute of Massage,
and much more. The Festival is free and open to the public.
New York Road Runners was founded in 1958 when a small group of passionate
runners vowed to bring running to the people. Over the past 53 years, NYRR
has grown from a local running club to the world's premier community
running organization. NYRR's mission is to empower everyone, of all ages
and abilities-beginners and competitive athletes, the young and the
elderly, adult professionals and underserved schoolchildren-to improve
their health and well-being through the power of running and fitness.
NYRR's races, community events, instruction and training resources, and
youth programs give hundreds of thousands of people each year the
motivation, know-how, and opportunity to start running and keep running for
life. NYRR's premier event, the famed ING New York City Marathon, attracts
the world's top pro runners and committed amateurs alike while also raising
millions of dollars annually for charity and driving economic impact for
the City. But NYRR is equally committed to the runners of tomorrow,
passionately providing youth fitness programs that educate and inspire more
than 100,000 kids in underserved communities in New York City, all 50
states, and around the world.
Headquartered in New York City, NYRR implements a unique nonprofit model
that teams contributed and earned income to make all its efforts possible.
To learn more, please visit www.nyrr.org.