Defending champions Baddeley, Rowbury return for 30th edition; U.S. mile record holder Alan Webb continues comeback after surgery

by: Running USA Wire
September 9, 2009

NEW YORK - (September 9, 2010) - Two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat will face strong competition as he races against fellow Olympians Leonel Manzano, Nick Willis and defending race champion Andy Baddeley, as well as U.S. mile record holder Alan Webb at the 30th running of the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile on Sunday, September 26, it was announced by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg. This year, all heats will be broadcast live on via, starting at 9:00am and continuing through the professional races at 12:50 and 1:05pm.

Olympian Shannon Rowbury (left, NYRR), is looking to defend her title against a strong women's field that includes past race champions Sara Hall and Carmen Douma-Hussar as well as surging racers Molly Huddle and Kalkidan Gezahegn.

"A red-hot field of superstars is making the 30th running of the Fifth Avenue Mile a must-see, must-run event," said Wittenberg. "We are thrilled to announce superstars like Bernard, Shannon and Leonel, as well as, for the first time, live streaming of the entire race."

Lagat, 36, of Tucson, AZ, is the U.S. record holder in the 1500, 3000, and 5000 meters, an eight-time Wanamaker Mile winner at the Millrose Games, and has won four gold medals at the World Championships. He is also a two-time Olympic medalist in the 1500 meters for his native Kenya, having earned the silver in 2004 and the bronze in 2000. Lagat has had a successful 2010 which included three U.S. records, a win at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 3000 meters, and wins this past Sunday at the IAAF Continental Cup in the 3000 and 5000 meters.

Manzano, 26, of Austin, TX, a five-time NCAA champion and 11-time NCAA All-American at the University of Texas, finished second in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials 1500 meters. In 2010, Manzano has established five personal bests, including a 3:50.64 mile at the Aviva London Grand Prix. He was third in the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in 2009 with a time of 3:52.2.

Rowbury, 25, of San Francisco, earned top honors at this event in 2009 with her 4:23.3 finish. Rowbury earned a spot on the 2008 Olympic team in the 1500 meters. At the Beijing Games she advanced to the finals and finished seventh, the highest-ever placing for an American woman in that event. Rowbury also took home the bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships 1500 meters.

Huddle, 26, of Elmira, NY, became the American record-holder in the 5000 meters after running 14:44.76 at the Diamond League meet in Brussels in August. The Notre Dame graduate is a nine-time NCAA All-American and holds four school records.

Gezahegn, 19, of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the World Indoor 1500m champion. The youngest contender in the field, Gezahegn owns the World Junior record for the indoor mile at 4:24.10.

Other top entrants in the field:
* Willis, 27, of New Zealand, currently residing in Ann Arbor, MI, topped the field at the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in 2008, when he finished in a time of 3:50.5. Willis competed in the 2008 Olympics representing New Zealand, where he earned a silver medal in the 1500 meters.
* Baddeley, 28, of England, won the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in 2009 by two-tenths of a second in 3:51.8. Baddeley finished ninth in the final at the 1500 meters in the 2008 Olympics.
* Webb, 27, of Portland, OR, is the U.S. mile record-holder (3:46.91). Webb, who is making his comeback after Achilles surgery earlier this year, trains under three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar.
* Amine Laalou, 28, of Morocco, set his personal best time of 3:50.22 earlier this year. He also finished fifth in the 2009 World Championship 800 meters, and he won the 1500 meters at the IAAF Continental Cup last weekend.
* Hall, 27, Mammoth Lakes, CA, took home the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile title in 2006, when she finished in a time of 4:28.0. Hall has a road mile personal best time of 4:23, set in 2009. A four-time NCAA All-American at Stanford, Hall was also the USA 5K champion in 2006.
* Douma-Hussar, 33, of Ardmore, PA, is a two-time Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile champion (2005, 2007). Douma-Hussar competed for her native Canada in the 2004 Olympics in the 1500 meters, where she finished ninth. The silver medalist in the 1500 meters at the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships, Douma-Hussar is making her comeback after giving birth to a daughter, Pippa, in 2009.
* Morgan Uceny, 25, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, captured her first national title in February at the USA Indoor 1500m Championships. She followed that up with a victory at the BAA Road Mile on Boston Marathon weekend. Over the course of the 2010 season, Uceny has lowered her 800 meter personal record by 1.5 seconds (to 1:58.67) and her 1500m PR by 4.5 seconds (to 4:02.72).

The Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile begins near East 80th Street and finishes at East 60th Street. The wheelchair and handcycle race will kick off the event at 9:00am. After that, entrants will run in heats according to age and gender. The professional women's race is scheduled to start at 12:50pm, followed by the professional men's race at 1:05pm. A total prize purse of $30,000 for the men's and women's professional races will be offered with the top men's and women's professional finishers each receiving $5000.

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