FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Hunninghake
Media Relations Department
New York Road Runners
New York Road Runners to Drop Pacemakers From
ING New York City Marathon 2007
Hendrick Ramaala to run in the November 4 race
New York, May 3, 2007—Former champion Hendrick Ramaala should feel very
comfortable when he returns to the ING New York City Marathon 2007
following today's announcement that there will be no pacemakers at the 38th
running of the race on Sunday, November 4.
The announcement was made by New York Road Runners president and CEO and
ING New York City Marathon race director Mary Wittenberg. Ramaala, of
Johannesburg, South Africa, is the first professional athlete to be
announced for this year's field.
The decision to eliminate pacemakers is consistent with the event's history
of championship-style racing, which puts a greater focus on head-to-head
racing and down-to-the-wire finishes than on world or course records. The
move also pays tribute to the storied history of the five-borough race,
which has featured greats like Bill Rodgers who ran and won without the use
In recent years, pacemakers were employed by NYRR for both the men's and
women's races to lead the professionals at specific paces through the first
15.5 miles (25 kilometers), exiting the course at the Queensboro Bridge.
"Our sport is full of great stars who thrive on competition and the purity
of head-to-head racing," Wittenberg said. "In the end, it is all about the
thrill of racing and the pursuit of victory. Who cares what the clock says?
We owe it to our best to put them front and center and let them race."
The elimination of pacers will also reduce some confusion, particularly for
television audiences, about which athletes are leading the race.
Additionally, the creation of easily identifiable uniforms for top athletes
pursuing the World Marathon Majors $1 million champion's purse further
clarifies the leaders for casual fans.
The concept will be reviewed and evaluated after the marathon to determine
future plans. NYRR began discussing the change after the ING New York City
Marathon 2006, and numerous athletes and coaches have endorsed it,
"Rest assured, there won't be a dull moment with Hendrick running this race
at his own pace from start to finish," Wittenberg said. "Hendrick is a
championship racer who runs to win, leaving it all on the playing field."
A two-time Olympian for South Africa, Ramaala won the ING New York City
Marathon in 2004. In 2005, Ramaala returned to New York and staged an epic
race with Paul Tergat, in which the world-record holder outleaned him at
the finish line to win by less than a second. Ramaala, who holds a law
degree from Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg, started running
after he was cut from his university soccer team. He is a two-time medalist
at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships.