Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Beijing Gold and Silver Medalists to dual in Philadelphia in Olympic Marathon Rematch
Live webcast on Competitor.com to feature Ryan Hall’s Philadelphia Debut
Philadelphia, PA. – September 17, 2009 – As the site of five World and three American records, the ING Philadelphia Distance Run is positioned for another historic performance in 2009. U.S. Olympian and American Half Marathon Record Holder, Ryan Hall, will lead the world-class field at the historic half-marathon on Sunday, September 20. The race will feature a live webcast on Competitor.com, beginning at 7:45 a.m. est.
“The ING Philadelphia Distance Run course record has stood a lot longer than we ever thought it would, since 1997,” said TV commentator Toni Reavis. “This year with the field Ryan Hall will have to contend with, and the ING New York City Marathon awaiting him on November 1st, he is in perfect position to supplant Khalid Khannouchi’s long-standing 60:27 time.”
The professional women’s field will glitter just as brightly, featuring the 2008 Olympic Marathon Gold and Silver Medalists Constantina Dita (pictured, below) of Romania, and Kenya’s Catherine “The Great” Ndereba. Dita, who has a half marathon PR of 1:08:07, won the marathon in Beijing using a courageous mid-race surge to pull away from the field. Taking silver behind her was Kenya’s Ndereba, a six-time champion in Philadelphia who will be looking for her seventh title on Sunday.
“It's been more than two years since my last half-marathon, but the half-marathon has always been one of my favorite race distances,” said Dita, who won the AIMS/ASICS World Athlete of the Year Award for 2008. “I'm looking forward to my first visit to Philadelphia. Other athletes have often told me what a beautiful course it is, and also that it is a very fast course. Competitor Group has put together a very strong women's field, and I'm looking forward again to racing with my friend, Catherine Ndereba, and the other women."
The Beijing medalists will face strong competition from another Olympic champion, Ethiopian Derartu Tulu. Tulu became Africa’s first Olympic women’s champion ever when she captured the gold medal in the 10,000 meters in Barcelona in 1992. After a disappointing 4th place finish in Atlanta in 1996, Derartu repeated her gold medal win in Sydney in 2000.
Kenya’s Irene Limika will look for a strong showing after finishing third in last year’s event. She recently represented the Kenyan team at the recent World Track and Field Championships in Berlin. Also expected to challenge after finishing 4th in Philadelphia last year will be fellow Kenyan Neriah Asiba who owns a half marathon PR of 1:10:24.
The men’s field will showcase Ryan Hall of Mammoth Lakes, California. Ryan set the U.S. half marathon record in Houston in January 2007, when he won the U.S. Half Marathon National Championship in 59 minutes, 43 seconds. His time smashed the previous U.S. record set by Missouri’s Mark Curp that had stood for 21 years (60:55). Four of the top five half- marathon performances of all-time by U.S. men, including Curp’s record setting performance in 1985, have been run in Philadelphia.
Hall will be joined by fellow American Josh Rohatinsky (right) who owns a half marathon PR of 1:02:45 which he set in his debut at the distance at last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon. Following San Jose, Rohatinsky finished 7th overall and 2nd American at the 2008 ING New York City Marathon.
Rounding out the men's field will be 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon Champion Peter Omae, and recent fourth place finisher at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach and fellow Kenyan Samuel Ndereba, who has a half -marathon PR of 1:01:51, and had a strong showing at last year in Philadelphia finishing fifth overall. Making his half marathon debut will be Simon Bairu of Canada, a two-time NCAA cross country champion while at the University of Wisconsin.
The professional field of elite runners will be introduced at the event press conference on Friday, September 18 at 2:00 pm in the Health & Fitness Expo at the ING Runner’s Lounge.
The race will begin at 7:45 am at Eakins Oval, on the Ben Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum. From the start line, runners head southeast towards Center City on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, passing Logan Circle at the one-mile mark, then City Hall a half-mile later.
As they approach two miles, runners make two right turns and head back towards their starting location before swinging around the left side of Logan Circle just before the four-mile mark. For the next five miles the course traces alongside the picturesque Schuylkill River affording runners an ideal racing environment. At nine miles, runners cross the river on the Falls Bridge and head back on the opposite bank along Kelly Drive, which takes them all the way to the finish line at Eakins Oval.
Weekend festivities begin Thursday, September 17, when hundreds of future marathoners are set to kickoff the ING Run for Something Better training program at Franklin Field, home of the Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States. The kickoff event begins at 11:00 am.
The event’s free two-day Health & Fitness Expo begins Friday, September 18 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Race registration will be available at the Expo from 11:00 am – 6 pm Friday and 9 am – 5 pm Saturday. The Health & Fitness Expo is open to the public and features over 100 exhibitors with the latest in endurance sports gear and nutrition products.