Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will lead the American charge, while top returning entrant Stephen Sambu and distance running star Wesley Korir, both of Kenya, headline a deep and diverse international lineup. Race will air live in New York on ABC7 and stream live on WatchABC, 7online, and ESPN3 via WatchESPN.
February 18, 2015
New York —Defending Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and compatriot Dathan Ritzenhein, running the half-marathon distance for the first time since the 2013 NYC Half, will lead a resilient field of American men against a strong international contingent highlighted by last year’s third-place finisher Stephen Sambu and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir at the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half on March 15, 2015, it was announced today by Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners.
“From Meb and Dathan to Stephen and Wesley, the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half professional men’s field is one of our best ever,” said Wittenberg. “We’re especially excited that our lead group of men will be running alongside the many young runners who will be participating in the event’s inaugural NYRR Times Square Kids’ Run on Seventh Avenue, creating an inspiring and unique moment that will help us celebrate the tenth running of the race.”
Keflezighi, 39, of San Diego, CA, is one of the most decorated American marathoners of all-time with thrilling victories at the 2014 Boston Marathon and the 2009 New York City Marathon and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. This past fall, the three-time Olympian took fourth place at the TCS New York City Marathon, his seventh top-10 finish at the race. At the 2012 Olympic Games in the marathon, he took fourth place; his 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games performances are the only top-five finishes by an American man in the event since 1976. The former American record-holder at 10,000 meters and second-place finisher at the 2006 NYC Half has won more than 20 national championships in track and field, cross country, and road racing. He will attempt to defend his Boston Marathon title in April.
“It is always a thrill and an honor to compete in New York City, and NYRR has been the most consistent supporter of my running career,” said Keflezighi. “As I train to defend my Boston Marathon title in April, there is no better race to prepare than the United Airlines NYC Half.”
Ritzenhein, 32, is one of the best American half-marathon runners in history. He took home the bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships with a time of 1:00:00, becoming the first American medalist at this event; his time is the second-fastest American performance ever, and he is the only American to run under 1:01:00 more than once. The former 5000-meter American record-holder and three-time Olympian finished third twice at the NYC Half (2008, 2013) and won the 2007 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K. He was the top American at the 2009 Olympic marathon, finishing ninth. The three-time national cross country champion (2005, 2008, 2009) owns a marathon personal best of 2:07:47, set at the 2012 Chicago Marathon. He will join Keflezighi at the Boston Marathon in April.
Sambu, 26, of Kenya, is the top returner from last year’s NYC Half, where he finished third with a time of 1:01:18, improving upon his seventh-place performance in 2013. At the 2014 B.A.A. 10K, the nine-time Division I NCAA All-American successfully defended his title, clocking a time of 27:25—the world’s fastest road 10K of the year. The 2013 and 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley Champion won the 2014 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K by nearly 40 seconds with a time of 27:39, missing the event record by just four seconds; he finished third in the same event in 2013. At the 2013 NYC Half, he lowered his half-marathon personal best at the time by almost two-and-a-half minutes, and that fall he improved nearly another minute to his current personal best of 1:00:41 when he finished third at the B.A.A. Half-Marathon.
“During 2014, I became a more comfortable road racer,” said Sambu. “I love NYRR events and I hope to improve on my third place finish. 2015 marks my third year as a professional runner. I’m confident, as I have a tremendous coach in James Li. Last year, I managed to record personal bests for 5K, 8K, 10K, and 10 miles on the road and 10,000 meters on the track. My goals in 2015 are to improve, win, and set myself up for a 2016 marathon debut. It was a blast to watch the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon up close [on the press truck].”
Korir, 32, of Kenya, is the 2012 Boston Marathon champion and a two-time winner of the Los Angeles Marathon (2009, 2010). He recorded top-five finishes three times at the Chicago Marathon (2010: fourth, 2011: second, 2012: fifth) and two times at the Boston Marathon (2013: fifth) including his 2012 victory; he set his personal best of 2:06:13 at Chicago in 2012. A year after running his half-marathon personal best of 1:01:19 to finish fourth at the 2012 NYC Half, he was elected to the National Assembly (Kenyan Parliament). In his role, he has been instrumental in rebuilding Kenya through humanitarian efforts while continuing to train and race at a high level.
The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half will air live in New York on ABC7 and WatchABC from 7:00-9:00 a.m. EST and on 7online from 7:00-10:30 a.m. Outside of the New York area, coverage will also be available on ESPN3 via WatchESPN from 7:00-10:30 a.m. on computers, tablets, smartphones, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One for those who have video or internet subscriptions from affiliated providers. International viewers can watch the broadcast from 7:00-9:00 a.m. EST via a variety of global broadcast partners (international viewers should check local listings).
Additional Top Athlete Backgrounds and Notable Performances
- Matt Tegenkamp, 33, of Portland, OR, is a two-time Olympian (2008, 2012) and the two-mile American record-holder. The six-time USA champion was the fourth American in history to break 13 minutes in the 5,000 meters and he finished fourth at the 2007 IAAF Outdoor Track and Field Championships at that distance. He was the top American at the 2014 NYC Half with a debut time of 1:02:04 and he placed 10th in his marathon debut at the 2013 Chicago Marathon.
- Chris Solinsky, 30, of Williamsburg, VA, became the first non-African to break 27 minutes in the 10,000 meters in 2010 with a time of 26:59.60, a new American record by 14 seconds and a North American record by nine seconds. The five-time Division I NCAA champion and fourteen-time All-American is the second-fastest American ever in the 5000 meters with a personal best of 12:55.53. The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half will be his debut at the distance.
- Andrew Bumbalough, 28, of Portland, OR, is the 2013 USA 5K champion and a five-time national team member for the United States, including the 5000 meters at the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In 2014, the eight-time Division I All-American ran under the 2000-meter American record at the NYRR Millrose Games and finished second in the 5000 meters at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half will be his half-marathon debut.
- Abdi Abdirahman, 38, of Tucson, AZ, qualified for his fourth U.S. Olympic team in 2012, his first team in the marathon. The 2012 USA Half-Marathon champion finished third in the 2006 NYC Half and second at the same event one year later; his time of 1:00:27 is the fastest time ever run by an American in New York. He is the only American to have run in three consecutive 10,000-meter Olympic finals and he has placed in the top 10 three times at the New York City Marathon, finishing a career-high of fifth in 2005.
- Juan Luis Barrios, 31, of Mexico, is a two-time 5000-meter Olympian, finishing seventh in 2008 and eighth in 2012. The 2011 Pan American Games 5000-meter gold medalist took fifth in the 2013 NYC Half and improved to fourth at the same event in 2014. At the recent 2015 Marugame Half-Marathon, he finished fifth with a personal best of 1:00:46.
- Lusapho April, 32, of South Africa, finished third at the 2013 New York City Marathon, the first podium finish from a South African since Hendrick Ramaala took third in 2007. Earlier that spring, the 2012 Olympian set a marathon personal best and course record of 2:08:32 at the Hanover Marathon. He represented his country at the 2014 IAAF Half-Marathon Championships, finishing 15th with a personal best of 1:01:16, and owns the 25K national record of 1:15:02, set in 2010.
- Leonard Korir, 28, of Kenya, was a two-time Division I NCAA Champion and eight-time All-American at the tri-state area’s Iona College. He finished third at the 2014 B.A.A. Half-Marathon with a time of 1:01:50, contributing to his third-place finish overall in the 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley. The 2012 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K runner-up finished fourth at the 2013 NYC Half with a personal best 1:01:19.
- Arne Gabius, 33, of Germany, is the 2012 European Championships 5000-meter silver medalist and 11-time national champion. In his marathon debut at the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, he finished ninth with a time of 2:09:32, making him the fourth-fastest German ever; he is the first German in 24 years to run under 2:10:00. Last year, the 2012 Olympian and four-time IAAF World Championships (two indoors, two outdoors) qualifier finished eighth at the NYC Half.
- Koki Takada, 21, and Takashi Ichida, 22, of Japan, both qualified for the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half by placing first and second, respectively, at the 2014 Ageo City Half-Marathon, the deepest half-marathon in the world. Takada stopped Ichida’s title defense with a personal best of 1:02:02, the third-fastest winning time in race history. Both were teammates at Kagoshima Jitsugyo High School where they won the 2010 National High School Ekiden Championships.
Top American Professional Men
|Name||Personal Best Half-Marathon||Twitter Handle|
Top International Professional Men
|Name||Personal Best Half-Marathon||Twitter Handle|
|Stephen Sambu, KEN||1:00:41||@Sksambu|
|Juan Luis Barrios, MEX||1:00:46||@juanlbarrios|
|Lusapho April, RSA||1:01:15||@LusaphoApril|
|Leonard Korir, KEN||1:01:19||—|
|Wesley Korir, KEN||1:01:19||@weskorir|
|Kevin Chelimo, KEN||1:01:21||—|
|Koki Takada, JPN||1:02:02||@tkdtkd0613|
|Takashi Ichida, JPN||1:02:03||@TAKA_supra|
|Arne Gabius, GER||1:02:09||@arnegabius|
|Marcin Chabowski, POL||1:02:26||—|
New this year at the United Airlines NYC Half is the NYRR Times Square Kids’ Run—a 1500-meter out-and-back road race on Seventh Avenue for children ages 7 to 18 that starts and ends in Times Square. An expected 1,000 kids, including 700 of NYRR’s Young Runners, will compete in the high school, middle school, and elementary school divisions alongside the runners in the United Airlines NYC Half.
A total of 20,828 runners crossed the finish line of the 2014 NYC Half, making it the largest NYC Half yet. Runners from more than 65 countries and all 50 states participated. Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won the men’s race with a time of 1:00:50, and Sally Kipyego won the women’s race with an event-record time of 1:08:31.
About the United Airlines NYC Half
Founded in 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization, whose mission is to help and inspire people through running. The United Airlines NYC Half is NYRR’s signature half-marathon, and the opening event of the NYRR Five-Borough Series. The race features a talented American and international professional athlete field, competitive, recreational, and charity runners, some 1,500 volunteers and thousands of spectators. The event offers the quintessential New York experience—a 13.1-mile tour of the Big Apple like no other—from the rolling hills of Central Park, up to Harlem, down through Times Square, along the Hudson River waterfront, to a finish in lower Manhattan. United Airlines, New York area’s largest airline, is the title sponsor of the United Airlines NYC Half and an NYRR foundation partner. To learn more, visit unitedairlinesnychalf.nyrr.org.