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Past Champions  Edna Kiplagat and Haron Toroitich Reclaim Titles and $12k at the Seventh Annual Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon
Kiplagat repeats. Torotich back on top after 2004 win. INXS set to rock post-race concert

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (September 2, 2007) – Kenyans Edna Kiplagat, 27, and Haron Toroitich, 29, both became two-time champions at the Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon today. Women's repeat winner, Kiplagat, broke the tape in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 14 seconds, and the 2004 men's champion, Toroitich, glided across the finish line in 1:02:20.

The women's elite field departed the start line first this morning to a cool coastal breeze and a temperature of 71 degrees. Theirs was a tactical race as the pack of 13 remained tightly knit for the majority of the race. In the early miles, Kathy Butler from England seemed frustrated with the slow pace and took the lead in an apparent effort to quicken her counterparts' steps.

"I needed to have a hard pace the whole way," said Butler who is preparing for the La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon in October.

Through the 10-kilometer mark, the lead pack consisted of eight athletes with Ethiopian Teyba Erkesso, 24, and the young Akane Wakita, 19, from Japan driving the pace. Approaching mile nine the lead group had split in half as the final stages of the race began to take form.

Before mile 11 and the U-turn from Atlantic Avenue on to Virginia Beach's boardwalk, the lead pack contained Kiplagat, Teyba and 22-year-old Ashu Kasim from Ethiopia. The smaller Akane was tucked into the slipstream of the African leaders. Akane took the lead along the oceanfront, but only for a moment.

Perhaps it was her course experience from 2006 that helped Kiplagat. She had the final kick and knew exactly when to use it, running a 5:05 split through mile 12 as she separated herself from her challengers by eight seconds in today's win.

"I wanted to come back and win," said Kiplagat who will race in the Philadelphia Distance Run on Sun., Sept. 16. She also will have a chance for repeat victory at the upcoming 30th anniversary half marathon in the City of Brotherly Love.

The men's race was filled with 24 strong competitors according to Toroitich. Like the women, the men stayed together though most of the race; however, their pace was pushed by several members of the Kenyan dominated field.

In the opening miles, Festus Langat, 22, was out in front as he passed through mile three, recording the fastest split time of race (4:38). The men marched to a 4:45 per mile pace as Julius Kibet took over for the next two miles. It was 23-year-old MacDonald Ondara's turn as he led the men through mile seven where the race's second fastest mile split of the day was recorded at 4:41.

As the men turned into the wind, entering the final four miles to the finish, the pack had dwindled to 11. Kibet reemerged alongside Tom Nyariki, 36, and Toroitich. Just behind Toroitich was his younger childhood friend, 28-year-old Yusuf Songoka.

Along the oceanfront, the wind was now at their backs as the four men jockeyed for position, having dropped the remaining field in the final miles.

"To be a champion on this course you need to know when to make your move for yourself," said Toroitich.

Knowing Nyariki had a strong sprinter's kick and wary of his close friend, Toroitich used his strength to gradually open a seven-second lead, which went unanswered as he broke the tape.

Ryan Carroll, 24, from Portsmouth and Erica Ortiz, 29, from Chesapeake took top local honors as the first male and female finishers from Hampton Roads. Both earned $500 for their efforts.

John Piggott from Williamsburg, Va. and Susan Loken from Phoenix Ariz. also took home $500 as the top male and female masters finishers.

Tonight, 20,000 race participants and music fans will celebrate at the post-race concert with INXS at the Verizon Wireless American Music Festival, presented by the Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon.

Both the men's and women's professional races were led by Saturn SKY roadsters the official vehicles of the 2007 Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon.

Edna Kiplagat, Courtesy: Scott K. Brown

Haron Toroitich, Courtesy: Scott K. Brown

Virginia Beach Oceanfront Finish, Courtesy: Scott K. Brown

Rock ‘n' Roll Half Marathon 2007 Participation:
Finishers: 17,017
Male Finishers: 7,441
Female Finishers: 9,576

1. Haron Toroitich, 29, Kenya, 1:02:20, $12,000
2. Yusuf Songoka, 28, Kenya, 1:02:27, $7,000
3. Tom Nyariki, 36, Kenya, 1:02:30, $5,000
4. Julius Kibet, 25, Kenya, 1:02:36, $3,000
5. Festus Langat, 22, Kenya, 1:02:40, $2,000
6. MacDonald Ondara, 23, Kenya, 1:02:42, $1,500
7. Samuel Ndereba, 30, Kenya, 1:02:47, $1,000
8. Yoshinori Oda, 26, Japan, 1:02:50, $750
9. Robert Letting, 23, Kenya, 1:03:12, $600
10. John Yuda, 27, Tanzania, 1:03:41, $500

TOP 10 Women
1. Edna Kiplagat, 27, Kenya, 1:11:14, $12,000
2. Akane Wakita, 19, Japan, 1:11:22, $7,000
3. Teyba Erkesso, 24, Ethiopia, 1:11:39, $5,000
4. Ashu Kasim, 22, Ethiopia, 1:12:08, $3,000
5. Yoko Miyauchi, 24, Japan, 1:12:22, $2,000
6. Sharon Cherop, 23, Kenya,1:12:24, $1,500
7. Hiroko Miyauchi, 24, Japan, 1:12:45, $1,000
8. Angelina Mutuku, 25, Kenya, 1:12:50, $750
9. Kathy Butler, 33, Great Britain, 1:14:17, $600
10. Kayoko Obata, 35, Japan, 1:14:36, $500

1. Ryan Carroll, 24, Portsmouth, VA, 1:09:53, $500

1. Erica Ortiz, 29, Chesapeake, VA, 1:20:04, $500

1. John Piggott, 42, Williamsburg, VA, 1:12:59, $500

1. Susan Loken, 44, Phoenix, AZ, 1:21:49, $500

1. Tyler Byers, 25, Sterling, VA, 49:08, $600

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