FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Margret Okayo To Make Comeback At Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio
Boston and New York Marathon Record Holder Headlines Professional Field
San Antonio, TX (November 11, 2008) – Five years after she shattered her own
course record by nearly two minutes at the ING New York City Marathon,
Margaret Okayo will make her comeback debut alongside 30,000 runners at the
inaugural Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon & 1/2 Marathon.
Okayo, of Kenya, who missed most of the past two years due to injuries, has
won four major marathon titles during her career – two New York Marathons,
one Boston Marathon and one London Marathon – and was a runner-up in
Chicago, finishing with an impressive marathon debut of 2:26:00 in 1999. She
also won back-to-back Rock 'n' Roll Marathons in San Diego where she holds
the course record, running a 2:25:05 in 2001.
"I am very happy to come and compete in the first Rock and Roll San Antonio
Marathon. This will be my comeback race, and I'm excited about this new
event organized by Elite Racing," said Okayo, winner of the 2003 Rock 'n'
Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. "I have great memories of their races
and it is a series which is very close to me. I hope to continue the good
relationship with Elite as I have competed in, and won, many of their
Okayo leads an exciting women's field which includes New Zealand Olympian
Liza Hunter-Galvan, who resides locally in San Antonio, as well as Olympian
Nuta Olaru of Romania, whose 2008 accomplishments include a seventh place
finish at the Boston Marathon and a third place finish in San Diego.
A significant challenge could also come from Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia,
who earlier this year won the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, and has
also won marathons in Frankfurt, Dallas, Twin Cities and Athens over the
last 2 years.
On the men's side, U.S. Olympian Brian Sell will run the half marathon. He
competed in the marathon at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and also finished
9th at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.
The elite field for the men's marathon is comprised primarily of Ethiopian
and Kenyan runners. The USA, Ukraine and Russia are also represented among
the strong international competitors. The field will be led by 1997 and 1998
ING New York City Marathon winner John Kagwe of Kenya, owner of the
second-fastest time ever winning the'97 race with a personal record of
2:08:12. He is also a previous Rock 'n' Roll champion, finishing first in
the 2001 San Diego Marathon.
Challenging Kagwe will be 2006 P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon
champion Shimeles Molla of Ethiopia, who also has a top-6 finish in a major
marathon from Berlin in 2005. Molla will be joined by fellow Ethiopian
Gizaw Bekele, one of the 72 athletes from Ethiopia who participated at the
2008 Olympics in Beijing. His only previous marathon was in Addis Ababa,
finishing 2nd to Beijing bronze medalist Tsegay Kebede.
Matt Downin, a five-time qualifier for the USA Olympic Trials, brings the
top American credentials to San Antonio. In 2005, Downin finished third in
the 10,000 meters at a USA Outdoor Championships, with personal best time of
28:34. He set his marathon PR of 2:14:28 with an eleventh place finish at
the ING New York City Marathon in 2005, finishing the season ranked #5 in
the U.S. at the 26.2 mile distance by Track & Field News.
The race course begins in scenic Lions Park and proceeds though downtown San
Antonio, passing the legendary Alamo before heading into the Southtown Arts
District. The marathon continues past the historic missions, through the
wooded Mission Trails National Park, which runs along side the picturesque
San Antonio River. The final straightaway and finish line are located at the
foot of the Alamodome, site of the post race fiesta.
With a separate prize purse for Texas athletes, the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll
event will host the "Texas Showdown," a statewide competition in which
runners from throughout Texas will compete for prize money on the 13.1 and
26.2-mile race courses. In the Texas Showdown, the top male and female
marathon finishers win $2,000; second-place finishers get $1,000;
third-place finishers win $500.
Additionally, any male Texas athlete who completes the marathon under
2:31:00 and any Texas female athlete under 2:56:00 will receive a prize
money bonus. In the half marathon, any Texas male who finishes under 1:08:30
and any Texas female under 1:17, will also receive a bonus.