FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Josh Cox Sets American 50K Record in Arizona
Kenyan Makes Notable Debut at P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
Phoenix, AZ – January 18, 2009 – Over eight years after setting a marathon
PR of 2:13:55 in Chicago, American Josh Cox set a new USA Track & Field
record for 50 kilometers. With an official time of 2:47:17, Cox bettered
the previous 50K record by over four minutes set in 2002 by Alex Tilson.
"My legs felt fine, but I was having a hard time keeping fluids down," said
Cox, who leading up to the race had his sights set on the world best. "It
was tough out there, but the crowd support really helped, especially once I
got going around the track. I was training such that even though it was an
off day, I still got the American record."
Cox overcame two bathroom breaks and an upset stomach, which plagued him
over the first 20 miles of the race. His marathon split of 2:20:32 was his
best time in the last two years and good for ninth place overall. His final
lap on the track was clocked at 71 seconds.
"Marathon is still my sport and 2012 is my goal," added Cox, referring to
the Olympic Games in London. "But like when running 50 miles helped my
performance in college track, these types of efforts will hopefully help my
marathon running. I'd love to come back again and try to lower my time."
Moses Kigen of Kenya won the men's title in his marathon debut. His final
sprint was good for a half second victory over Ethiopian Tekeste Kebede.
Kigen, 25, won the race in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 36 seconds, the second-best
time in the six year history of the event.
"It feels great to win in my first marathon," said Kigan. "The course is
fantastic, flat and very fast. The running conditions were perfect. I'm
going to come back for the course record next year."
Nearly the entire men's field jockeyed for position over the first few
miles of the race. A lead pack of seven runners then began to click off sub
5-minute miles. After the 10 mile mark, mile splits were 4:51, 4:53 and
4:44, with a half marathon split of 1:05:09. At the 25K mark, Kigan, Kebde,
and fourth place finisher Keteme Nigusse of Ethiopia pulled away.
It was a three man race until the water station at mile 22, when the pace
caught up to Nigusse and he fell back. Kigan and Kebede ran side-by-side
until the final few meters. Kigen, who also finished third overall at the
2008 Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Jose, received $20,000 for his
first place effort. Defending Champion Michael Aish of New Zealand finished
In the women's marathon, Olena Shurkhno of the Ukraine cruised to victory
in 2:31:22, nearly three minutes ahead of Ethiopia's Salomie Getnet. In
addition to six European marathon titles, Shurkhno has previously won the
2007 Country Music Marathon and was also runner up in Nashville last year.
Two time-defending champion Adanech Zekiros of Ethiopia dropped out with an
injury before mile 19.
After leading five miles over the first half of the race, local Arizona
resident Sally Meyerhoff finished in fifth place setting a new PR with a
time of 2:35:52. Meyerhoff won additional prize money as the first American
woman, Arizona resident and Maricopa County finisher.
"The conditions and the course were beautiful," said Meyerhoff, who
qualified for the Olympic Trails in Arizona last year. "The crowd support
was great and it was really exciting to lead the race at the halfway
Albuquerque resident Kris Houghton and Nickey Archer of the United Kingdom
won their respective half marathons.
"It felt great to win, but I was hoping to go a little faster," said
Houghton, who finished with a time of 1:08:22. "I was out in the front all
alone and a cramp in my hamstring also slowed me down a little."
A record field turned out for the first race in the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll
Marathon Series. Annually the largest combined marathon and half marathon
in the U.S., the sixth annual event was the largest in the history of the
Rock 'n' Roll series. Conditions on the flat Arizona course were almost
ideal for marathon running, dawning sunny and with temperatures around 48
degrees and very little wind at the start line. But the story of the day
was the 50K record.
"The logistics at the finish line worked out perfectly," said Tracy
Sundlun, Vice-President of the Competitor Group's Elite Racing division.
"He took the ultra out of the woods and put it into the mainstream, much
like what Frank Shorter did with the marathon. Josh is a great
representative of the sport and is showing us where it could go in the
"Having run the marathon myself, I know that sluggish feeling after 26.2
miles is difficult on its own," said Katie McGregor, U.S. distance runner
who finished second at the 2008 Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia
Beach and in the top 10 at the ING New York City Marathon.
McGregor, who was on hand to witness the 50K record attempt, added, "Josh
is definitely leading the pack as more and more American distance runners
try to push themselves to greater things."