New York Road Runners announced yesterday the American field of runners for the NYC Half on Sunday, March 17. Leading the team are Olympic long-distance runners Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman, and Dathan Ritzenhein in the men’s race. They’ll join American record holder and Olympian Bernard Lagat, who NYRR previously announced would be making his half-marathon debut at the NYC Half.
Rounding out the American men’s team is Jason Hartmann, who finished fourth in the 2012 Boston Marathon, and Guor Marial, who will be running his first race as a U.S. citizen in the NYC Half. He ran the London Olympic marathon under the flag of the International Olympic Committee after refusing to represent his native Sudan, whose soldiers killed 28 members of his family.
The American women’s team will be lead by Janet Bawcom, 34, who finished 12th in the 10,000 meters at the London Olympics. She ran the NYC Half in 2011 and 2012 as well. Joining her will be Serena Burla, Maegan Krifchin, Adriana Nelson, Molly Pritz, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, and Lindsey Scherf.
Keflezighi, 37, in particular has a deep running history in New York City. He won the 2009 ING New York City Marathon after bouncing back from a would-be career ending hip injury at the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in New York City’s Central Park in 2007. He owns a silver marathon medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics, and finished fourth in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics. He’s run the NYC Half three times — 2006, 2011, 2012 —but has yet to win the marquee spring race. After the NYC Half, he’ll be back to run the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.
“I am honored to be a part of the great field NYRR has assembled for this year’s NYC Half,” said Keflezighi. “This race will serve as a great tune-up as I prepare for the Boston Marathon. I’m looking forward to racing in front of my New York City fans and friends.”
Abdirahman, 36, is a four-time Olympian. He finished second at the NYC Half in 2007 in a time of 1:00.29, the third fastest half-marathon ever run by an American.
Ritzenhein, 31, is a two-time Olympian. He ran the NYC Half in 2008 and 2012, placing third in 2008. In 2009, Ritzenhein won the bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships.
“We are positively thrilled to welcome Meb, Dathan, and Abdi — three of America’s finest and favorite long distance runners — back to NYC as we celebrate the spirit of NYC,” said NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “This NYC Half is more than a run. It’s about the spirit of our runners of all types, and especially this year, it’s about the spirit of Lower Manhattan and all of NYC. Meb, Dathan, and Abdi each have comeback stories of their own to add to the inspiration of the day.”
Indeed, the 13.1-mile race, which begins in Central Park, ends in New York City’s South Street Seaport area, which was badly affected by Hurricane Sandy. Neighborhood businesses have been struggling since the storm, DNAinfo reported, and local business owners and community board members are largely welcoming the influx of 15,000 runners to their streets.
“Right now businesses are hurting,” chairman of lower Manhattan’s Community Board 1 Seaport/Civic Center Committee John Fratta told DNAinfo. “We have to take advantage of any chance to bring people to the neighborhood.”
The NYC Half will air live locally on WABC-TV from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. It will also stream live on ESPN3. As a freelancer for New York Road Runners, I will be covering the NYC Half as part of their “On The Run” broadcast team. “On the Run” will air on www.nyrr.org at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, with a post-race recap Sunday evening.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runner’s lifestyle web show about running. She has completed six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.