Top Americans Antonio Vega, Tim Nelson, Blake Russell to Take Part in 2010 ING New York City Marathon

Canada’s Simon Bairu, Mexico’s Madaí Pérez join field for November 7 race

Wheelchair field to feature Americans Krige Schabort and Amanda McGrory

September 8, 2010

New York, September 8, 2010—Reigning USA Half-Marathon champion Antonio Vega, 2009 USA Cross Country Championship runner-up Tim Nelson, and 2008 Olympian Blake Russell are part of a robust field of American standouts that will be joined by Canadian 10,000-meter record-holder Simon Bairu and Mexican standout Madaí Pérez at the ING New York City Marathon 2010 on Sunday, November 7, it was announced today by New York Road Runners president and CEO and race director Mary Wittenberg. Leading the American contingent are the previously announced defending men’s champion Meb Keflezighi, 2008 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, and 2008 Olympic 10,000-meter bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, making her debut at the marathon distance.

In conjunction with the ING New York City Marathon, New York Road Runners will host the 2010 USA Women’s Marathon Championship, offering a special USA Championship-only prize purse of $150,000. 

Other top contenders for the United States at the ING New York City Marathon 2010 include 1996 Olympian Linda Somers Smith, Katie MacGregor, Mary Akor, Paige Higgins, Serena Burla, and Sally Meyerhoff in the women’s race, and 2006 women’s wheelchair winner Amanda McGrory and last year’s men’s wheelchair runner-up Krige Schabort.

“We are so pleased to welcome this slate of phenomenal runners and stories,” said Wittenberg. “We have it all in this year’s race: debutants like Tim and Simon, comeback runners like Blake and Serena, and former champions like Amanda and Krige. The athletes announced today join our already robust and exciting fields.”

Vega, 26, of St. Paul, MN, a member of Team USA Minnesota, won the 2010 USA Half-Marathon Championship in January in a time of 1 hour, 1 minute, 54 seconds. Vega has a marathon PR of 2:13:47 that he earned this past year at the Boston Marathon. This will be his first ING New York City Marathon for Vega, a former NCAA All-American at the University of Minnesota.

“I am really excited to run my first-ever ING New York City Marathon, as this will be a great opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best marathoners in a truly first-class event,” said Vega. “I am looking forward to racing on the streets of New York on November 7.” 

Nelson, 26 of Portland, OR, represented the United States in the 10,000 meters at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, and has finished as a USA Championship runner-up four times. He trains as part of the Nike Oregon Track Club. This will be his first career marathon.

Bairu, 27, currently resides in Portland, OR, where he trains with fellow ING New York City Marathon entrants Nelson and Flanagan as part of the Nike Oregon Track Club. Bairu set the Canadian 10,000-meter record with a time of 27:23.63 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in May. He also won the P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n Roll Half-Marathon in Arizona in January. Bairu will be making his marathon debut in New York City.

Russell, 35, of Marina, CA, will be making her marathon comeback; she gave birth to a son, Quinn, in April 2009. Russell finished eighth at the USATF Cross Country Championships in February. She placed third at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon and earned a spot on the marathon Olympic team.

“The ING New York City Marathon was the first marathon I watched on television, over 10 years ago, and is what planted the marathon seed in my head,” said Russell. “It will be my first marathon since the Olympics and since having a baby, and I could not think of a more exciting or more prestigious event for my return.”

Pérez, 30, of Tlaxcala, Mexico, finished third at the NYC Half-Marathon in March in 1:09:45. She finished 19th in the 2008 Olympic marathon. Pérez owns the Mexican national record in the marathon in a time of 2:22:59.

Other top Americans in the field:

  • Somers Smith, 49, of Arroyo Grande, CA, was a 1996 Olympian in the marathon. In 2010, she set the women’s 45–49 10-mile record in 57:09 and placed sixth at the Honda LA Marathon in 2:36:33.
  • McGregor, 33, of St. Louis Park, MN, is the 2010 USA 15K champion and has won four other USA Championships. A member of Team USA Minnesota, McGregor set her marathon personal best at the ING New York City Marathon in 2008, finishing 10th in 2:31:14.
  • Akor, 33, of Hawthorne, CA, has numerous marathon victories under her belt, including a win at this year’s Clico Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon. The Nigerian-born Akor has twice represented the United States at the World Championships Marathon (2005 and 2007).
  • Higgins, 28, of Flagstaff, AZ, was the top American woman at the 2010 Boston Marathon when she finished in 2:36:00. Higgins, the 2008 USA 25K Champion, will be making her ING New York City Marathon debut.
  • Burla, 28, of Ellisville, MO, was second in the 2009 NYRR New York Mini 10K, the 2009 USA 20K Championship in New Haven, CT, and the 2010 USA Half-Marathon Championship in Houston. Shortly after the Houston race, Burla was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her hamstring and underwent surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to remove the cancer as well as a portion of her bicep femoris muscle. Burla has had a quick recovery; she won the Boston Scientific Heart of Summer 10K on July 24, her first race since the surgery. This will be Burla’s marathon debut.
  • Meyerhoff, 26, of Maricopa, AZ, saw success in New York City earlier this year when she won the More Magazine | Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon in April. Meyerhoff was also the 2009 USA 25K champion.
  • Schabort, 46, of Cedartown, GA, will compete in his 10th ING New York City Marathon in 2010. Originally from South Africa, Schabort has had two victories in NYC (2002, 2003) and finished in second place in 2009 by less than a second.
  • McGrory, 24, of Champaign, IL, has been riding a wave of victory since 2009, when she won the BUPA Great North Run (half-marathon), Grandma’s Marathon, and the London Marathon. In 2010, McGrory won the Los Angeles Marathon. The 2006 ING New York City Marathon champion is back in 2010 for her fourth NYC race.

New York Road Runners

Headquartered in New York City, New York Road Runners is dedicated to advancing the sport of running, enhancing health and fitness for all, and meeting our community’s needs. Our goal is to use the expertise acquired in our 52-year history to empower all people to live fitter, healthier lives through participation in our races, community events, instruction and training resources, and youth programs. Our races and other events draw more than 300,000 people each year. The ING New York City Marathon, NYRR’s premier event, is the largest and most inclusive marathon in the world, attracting the world’s top professional runners every year and raising nearly $25 million for charity in 2009. NYRR’s running-based youth programs, which currently serve more than 100,000 children in hundreds of schools and community centers, promote children’s health and fitness, character development, and personal achievement in underserved communities. For more information, visit

The ING New York City Marathon

The premier event of New York Road Runners, the ING New York City Marathon is one of the world’s great road races, drawing nearly 105,000 applicants. The race attracts many world-class professional athletes, not only for the more than $600,000 in prize money, but also for the chance to excel in the media capital of the world before two million cheering spectators and a worldwide broadcast reach of 330 million. As any one of the more than 830,000 past participants will attest, crossing the finish line in Central Park is one of the great thrills of a lifetime. For more information, visit


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