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Keflezighi, Hall, Abdirahman for NYC Half-Marathon

Trio of Olympians to toe the line together on March 20 for the first time since the ING New York City Marathon 2009

Abdi Abdirahman

Abdi Abdirahman

NEW YORK – (February 8, 2011) – In a rare gathering of three of America’s leading male long-distance runners of the past decade, Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman will run the NYC Half-Marathon on Sunday, March 20, it was announced by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.

The last time this powerhouse trio of Olympians and national title-holders all ran in the same race was also in New York, at the ING New York City Marathon 2009, which was won by Keflezighi in historic and dramatic fashion with Hall fourth and Abdirahman ninth.

The NYC Half-Marathon, which has a $100,000 prize purse (the largest for any United States 13.1 mile race), will have a strong USA presence, with the previously announced Olympian and World Championships bronze medalist Kara Goucher running as part of her comeback after the birth of her first child.

While it has been unusual to have this threesome of men on one starting line, it is not new to have them racing on the New York City streets. Altogether, the three have competed in New York 32 times in their careers.

“This is something of a coming-home party,” said Wittenberg. “We welcome three American favorites of New Yorkers and runners everywhere – our marathon champion Meb, and the ever-popular Abdi and Ryan.”

After qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games by winning the Trials in New York City, Hall, 28, of Big Bear Lake, CA, went on to finish 10th in Beijing. He is the only American to have broken the one-hour barrier on a record standard half-marathon course, which he did by running 59:43 to win the 2007 Aramco Houston Half-Marathon. In addition to the Olympic Trials, Hall found success in New York when he won the 2006 USA Cross Country Championships 12K, and also in his first appearance in the NYC Half-Marathon, in 2009, when he finished third.

“I love racing in New York. Every time I show up on the starting line I feel an incredible sense of opportunity,” said Hall. “I am honored to join the great international and domestic field assembled in this year’s half-marathon. Having decided to run this year’s race at an early date allows me to plan accordingly so I can go after a strong performance at both the NYC Half and the Boston Marathon to follow in four weeks time.”

Keflezighi, 35, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, also has a strong history in New York. In 2009, he became the first American since 1982 to win the New York City Marathon. The UCLA grad has finished in the top 10 in the Marathon four other times, most recently with a sixth-place showing last year. A silver medalist in the men’s marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Keflezighi has won 20 USA titles on the track, roads and cross country.

Abdirahman, 34, of Tucson, AZ, ran the 2007 NYC Half-Marathon in 1:00:29, the third-fastest half-marathon in U.S. history, finishing second behind Haile Gebrselassie’s course record. He also set a then-personal best of 2:11:24 at the ING New York City Marathon 2005, finishing fifth. A three-time Olympian, Abdirahman has earned 12 USA titles at 10,000 meters, 10K, 10 miles and 20K.

Other top Americans in the field include:

* Patrick Smyth, 24, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, was victorious at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in 2009. He finished third at the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Houston at the end of January in 1:02:32, at the same event where he finished national runner-up in 2010.
* Serena Burla, 28, of Ellisville, MO, competed in the ING New York City Marathon 2010 less than one year after being treated for a malignant tumor in her right hamstring. She found the tumor just a few weeks after competing in the 2010 USA Half-Marathon Championship in Houston, where she finished second. In January 2011, she finished second again in the same event, in a time of 1:11:38.

On a course designed to celebrate New York City, the NYC Half-Marathon will take more than 9,000 runners on a loop through Central Park, down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street, and along the expansive West Side Highway to Battery Park in the heart of the city’s financial district, finishing with a view of the Statue of Liberty.