FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Professional Field Announced for Fifth Annual
P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon
Running Down a Dream: 39 American women from 19 states
take a decisive step towards Olympic glory
PHOENIX, (Jan. 8, 2008) – The fifth annual P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll
Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon on Sunday, January 13, 2008 will host an
Ethiopian dominated professional field and shine the spotlight on 39
American women from 19 states who are "Running Down a Dream" as they race
for a position at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women's Marathon.
Without Terefe Yae, the 2007 men's champion, in this year's field,
Ethiopian Dejene Yirdawe, 29, who finished third at the 2007 Dublin
Marathon in a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes, 8 seconds,
represents the fastest time in this year's Arizona field.
Haron Toroitich of Kenya set the men's course record of 2:10:33 at the
inaugural P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon in 2004. However, the
absence of Kenyan representation will be sadly noticed in 2008 after
protests and ethnically charged riots swept across the East African nation
in late December. As a result, many of the Kenyan athletes have had to
restricted their travel and suspend their training in the wake of the
"We send our hopes for a quick cessation to the violence and our prayers
for the safety of all our friends and their families in Kenya," said Tracy
Sundlun, Executive Vice President for Elite Racing. "All our Elite Racing
events have been blessed over the years to have great Kenyan athletes on
our start lines. They are not only fantastic runners, but very kind and
friendly people. We will run on Sunday with them in our hearts."
Joining the men from their training grounds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is
25-year-old women's champion Adanech Zekiros who returns to defend her 2007
title against second place finisher Salomie Getnet, 20. Zekiros ran
uncontested across the finish line in 2:31:43, nearly missing the course
record of 2:31:33 set by Shitaye Gemechu in 2004.
Zekiros and Getnet will push the pace against a large field of American
women focused on qualifying for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women's
Marathon, scheduled for Boston on Sunday April 20, the day before the
annual Boston Marathon. As part of this special invitational program at the
P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon titled Running Down a Dream, 39
athletes hope to run under the U.S. Olympic Trials "B" standard time of
2:47:00 to secure a position in Boston.
Some of the American women selected to this year's field include Linda
Somers Smith, 46, of Arroyo Grande, California, a member of the 1996 U.S.
Olympic Marathon team, and 1994 U.S. national marathon champion. Linda is
gunning for a fifth appearance in the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Joining Linda will be 38 year-old Becky Sondag of Casper, Wyoming who
missed the Olympic Trials "B" standard by just 25 seconds last fall when
she finished 12th at the Philadelphia Marathon. In 2000 Becky missed
qualifying by only four seconds.
Representing the new generation will be Arizona's Sally Meyerhoff, 24, from
Tempe. This two-time NCAA All-American at Duke University now coaches cross
country and is a substitute teacher at her high school alma mater, Mountain
Pointe High School. Sally will be making her marathon debut in the Valley
of the Sun. However, she ran 1:16:39 at the 2007 AFC Half Marathon in San
Diego, good for 5th place, and a time that bodes well for her Olympic
"This is likely the last opportunity for these women to qualify for the
Trials, said Sundlun. "The P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon
course has the potential to be very fast and the weather should be ideal,
and we hope it helps many of these athletes get to Boston in April."