Benita Willis, Patrick Smyth, Jason Hartmann, Jason Lehmkuhl, Amy Hastings, Katie McGregor and Kathy Butler Running Zappos Rock N Roll Vegas Half This Weekend
Smyth, Hartmann and Lehmkuhle top men and Hastings, McGregor, Willis and Butler lead women for half-marathon; race sold out with 44,000 entrants to become World's Largest Nightime Running Event
By Running USA Wire
November 30, 2011
LAS VEGAS - (November 30, 2011) - Some of the top U.S. distance runners will lead more than 44,000 registered runners down the Las Vegas strip on Sunday night, December 4th for the Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. Nearly seven and a half miles of the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip will be closed for the race, with the entire 13.1-mile half-marathon course running on Las Vegas Blvd.
"The Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon is our flagship event and it has every ingredient to be one of the biggest and best events in the world," said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series. "With the Olympic Trials around the corner, Las Vegas provides the back drop for some great road racing, the timing is perfect for athletes to fine tune their training and also provides some a final opportunity to get the elusive time to ensure they're on the start line in Houston next January."
Leading the half-marathon field are several U.S. athletes looking to tune-up for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. Leading the contingent will be Patrick Smyth and Jason Hartmann. A Notre Dame graduate, Smyth has a 1:02:01 personal best for the 13.1 mile distance and the Mammoth Track Club member returns to Las Vegas after finishing second in the half-marathon last year. Hartmann has the fifth-fastest qualifying time heading into the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, running 2:11:06 in Chicago last year. A six time all-American at University of Oregon, he recently finished the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in 1:03:38 as third American.
Other top American's include 2008 USA Half Marathon and 20K champion James Carney; Stephan Shay, whose half-marathon best is 1:02:26; Jason Lehmkuhle, a multiple-time national team member and two-time top ten finisher at the ING New York City Marathon; Trent Briney, who finished fourth at the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials; Matt Gabrielson, member of U.S. teams at World Cross Country and the World Half Marathon, and Josh Moen, who finished runner-up at the USA 25K championships earlier this year.
The women's pro field is led by Brooks athlete Amy Hastings, who trains with the Mammoth Track Club. Hastings burst onto the long distance running scene clocking a time of 2:27:03 at the Honda LA Marathon in March, the third fastest marathon debut performance by an American in history. A 10-time NCAA All-American in cross country and track while at Arizona State University, she set her half-marathon PR of 1:11:39 in Houston last year and has represented the U.S. at the World Half-Marathon Championships and at three World Cross Country Championships.
Among those aligned against her will be Katie McGregor of Team USA Minnesota, Colorado resident Kathy Butler of Great Britain and Benita Willis of Australia.
McGregor won the Grandma's Half Marathon in June and was second at the 2008 Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. She also finished 11th at last year's NYC Marathon and owns a half-marathon best of 1:12:01 set in 2007 when racing in Udine, Italy at the World Championships. Butler set her PR in Philadelphia in 2006 running 1:11:05. A two-time Olympian in 5000 and 10,000m, Butler finished 4th at World Cross Country Championships in 1999. Willis, with a half-marathon PR of 1:07:55, won the World Cross Country title in 2004.
Other top American's competing include Kathy Newberry, Alvina Begay, Kristen Nicolini and Sopagne Braje, who is hoping to attain the Olympic Trials qualifier, won the 2010 Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon and owns a PR of 1:16:24 for the half-marathon.
The marathon will start at dusk, beginning at 4:05pm and the half-marathon will start at 5:30pm with sunset in the City of Las Vegas scheduled for 4:26pm. The entire 13.1-mile half marathon course runs on the Strip, beginning at Mandalay Bay and running on the northbound lanes to the Fremont Street Experience where runners turnaround and run back to Mandalay Bay on the Southbound side.
After rocking to the sounds of Cheap Trick and American Idol star Casey Abrams prior to the start of the race at Mandalay Bay, runners will tour the vibrant Las Vegas Strip, shutting down all eight lanes of the iconic roadway, and running past its famous hotels and casinos with live bands every mile before arriving to an LED-lit finish line and the cheers of thousands of spectators.
As the event's official charity, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will return with the Team Challenge half-marathon training program. Since 2009, Team Challenge has raised nearly $8 million though the Las Vegas race.
For additional information about the World's Largest Nighttime Running Event, go to: Stripatnight.com.
For more information about Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas, visit Competitor.com or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.