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Geti Wami to Run Both Berlin and NYC Marathons Hoping to Win World Marathon Majors
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (18-Sep) -- Gete Wami already has three Olympic medals, but the 32 year-old Ethiopian is facing a unique challenge this fall which rivals winning an Olympic title: winning the first World Marathon Majors (WMM) series and the $500,000 prize which goes with it.

Wami will be lining up at the start of the real,- Berlin Marathon on Sept. 30 the heavy favorite for victory.  Should she defend her title from last year when she ran a national record 2:21:34, she would be awarded 25 points in the both the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 WMM series championships.  That would put her in sole possession of first place in the 2006/2007 series with 65 points, ten more than current leader Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia.

Then, 35 days later, Wami plans to start the ING New York City Marathon where she will face Prokopcuka, the two-time defending New York Champion.  If Prokopcuka wins the race, scoring 25 points, she will be named series champion no matter what place Wami comes in even in the scenario where she they both have 80 points (ties are broken based on head-to-head meetings).  However, if Wami defeats Prokopcuka she will win the $500,000 winner-take-all jackpot.

"Gete's decision to take aim at the World Marathon Majors crown a mere five weeks after Berlin didn't surprise me," commented New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg in a prepared statement. "She's a tough, seasoned, wily competitor who knows how to prepare and how to run to win.  While most others would be on vacation five weeks after a marathon, I expect Gete to be in the hunt for gold."

Wami's challenge is far greater than just beating Prokopcuka.  The women's field in New York also features newly crowned world champion, Catherine Ndereba of Kenya (2:18:47 PB); last year's IAAF World Road Running Championships runner-up, Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania (2:21:30); the reigning Boston Marathon champion, Lydia Grigoryeva of Russia (2:25:10); last year's runner-up at New York, Tetyana Hladyr of Ukraine (2:25:44); and the runner-up in Berlin last year, Salina Kosgei of Kenya (2:23:22).

"It will be a 'who's who' of champions on our start line," Wittenberg added.

The winner in New York will receive $130,000 in cash plus a Toyota Prius automobile valued at $23,000.

The WMM title will be awarded the day after the ING New York City Marathon in a special ceremony here.  Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya, with 75 points, is expected to win the men's title.

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