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
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
"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