Meb Keflezighi to defend his title this weekend at the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon
Posted Sep 29 2010 8:08am
SAN JOSE, Calif. - (September 29, 2010) - Defending Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi will lead a field of more than 13,000 entrants at the 2010 Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon on Sunday, October 3. Now in its fifth year, Rock 'n' Roll San Jose is recognized as California's fastest half-marathon, and Meb will once again look to use the lightning quick San Jose course as a launching pad to victory at the November 7th ING New York City Marathon, the same countdown he utilized so successfully in 2009.
"We are thrilled to have Meb defending his title in San Jose this weekend as he prepares for the ING New York City Marathon in November," said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator. "Meb is a great competitor, and is truly one of America's most inspirational athletes. He really set the stage for his NYC win in San Jose last year, and we are all hoping to see a similar preview again this weekend."
A three-time national 10,000 meter track champion (2000, 2002, 2004), the 35-year-old Keflezighi has won an impressive 20 USA road, track and cross country titles during his illustrious career. But the highlight to-date came at the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens where the UCLA grad picked up the silver medal, becoming the first American male to earn an Olympic Marathon medal since Frank Shorter's silver in Montreal 1976.
The Bay Area has proven to be a place of good fortune during Keflezighi's career. He set the U.S. 10,000 meter track record in Palo Alto in May 2001 (27:13.98), a time that remained on the books for nine years. And during last year's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Keflezighi's unofficial 20K split (12.4 miles) of 57 minutes, 52 seconds was better than Mammoth Track Club teammate Ryan Hall's U.S. 20K record by two seconds. Keflezighi went on to complete his half-marathon victory in San Jose in 1:01:00, a 25-second improvement over his previous best which came in winning the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Houston in January '09.
Following last year's San Jose run, Keflezighi went on to make more history by becoming the first American male to win the New York City Marathon since 1982. His winning time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 15 seconds was also a personal best.
"I'm delighted to return to the city of San Jose to defend my title. Last year it was a great opportunity for me to see where I was before the ING New York Marathon, the race went well and we all know what happened in New York," said Keflezighi, who will be inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame on Friday (while a Bruin he captured four NCAA titles in track and cross country).
"Defending two titles in the space of a month is special," he continued. "Everything worked out so well last year that I don't want to change my preparation in 2010."
In the women's race the role of favorite falls to U.S. Olympian Blake Russell of nearby Pacific Grove, California. She finished third at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston, and then went on to place 27th at the Beijing Games.
Russell, 35, will be joined by a deep regional field of the top runners in the Bay Area including Dena Evans of Redwood City, who finished fourth in San Jose last year; Rachel Booth of Mountain View, who ran 33:22 at the Stanford Invitational this spring in Palo Alto; Heather Gibson of Piedmont, who recently won the Huntington Beach Half Marathon and the Jacksonville Half Marathon; Lauren Johnson of Palo Alto, top American the last two years at the Big Sur Half Marathon, and Heather Tanner MacFalls of Menlo Park, who represented the U.S. team at the World Half-Marathon Championships in 2004.
"It's always exciting to welcome so many world class athletes to San Jose on the first weekend in October," said Roger Craig, race founder and three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers. "The Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon has already established a great tradition in San Jose. It does so much for the community and charity, and we are looking forward to five more great years."
Rock 'n' Roll San Jose is also home to both of the current California state half-marathon records: 1:00:22 Duncan Kibet (KEN), 2006, and 1:09:17 Silvia Skortsova (RUS), 2006.
The flat, fast course starts at W Santa Clara St and Almaden Blvd and will come to an exciting and scenic finish at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose. Live bands will play along every mile of the 13.1-mile course, along with local cheerleaders, to motivate and keep runners rocking the entire way.
Participants, their friends and family will celebrate their accomplishment at the finish line festival with a performance by the multi-platinum band Blues Traveler, who will rock the stage at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez immediately following the race.
Race registration is available at the Health & Fitness Expo Friday, October 1, from 1:00pm to 6:00pm and Saturday, October 2, from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The free Expo is open to the public and will showcase the latest in running products, services and free samples as all registered runners pick up their race number.
The 5th Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, October 3. The wheelchair invitational begins at 7:55am, followed by the half-marathon at 8:00am. For more information, go to Competitor.com