Keflezighi & Hall Lead US Charge in NYC

By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

(29-Aug) -- Led by Olympic Trials champion Meb Keflezighi, six of the top eight finishers from last January's USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston --including the entire Olympic Marathon team-- will compete in the 43rd edition of the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 4, the New York Road Runners announced today.

This will be the first time that an entire USA Olympic Marathon team will compete in what is the world's largest marathon, and those athletes --Abdi Abdirahman, Ryan Hall and Keflezighi-- will be competing for their share of a special American-only $100,000 prize money purse.

"It's a good day when we are announcing the equivalent of the USA Men's Dream Team in marathon running," said New York Road Runners' president and CEO Mary Wittenberg through a news release.

In addition to the Olympic Team, Wittenberg announced that Brett Gotcher (5th in the Trials), Andrew Carlson (6th), Nick Arciniaga (8th) and Ryan Vail (11th) would be running, along with Jason Hartmann (4th at the 2012 Boston Marathon) and Scott Bauhs.

"The field this year is larger-than-life, led by perennial contender Meb Keflezighi and his 2012 Olympic marathon teammates Abdi Abdirahman and Ryan Hall," Wittenberg continued.  "Two of America's best distance runners --Jason Hartmann and Brett Gotcher-- add to the incredible lineup, and we can't wait to see what they can do in their NYC Marathon debuts."

For Keflezighi, 37, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., this will be his eighth appearance at the ING New York City Marathon, the race where he made his marathon debut in 2002 and earned victory in 2009, the first by an American since Alberto Salazar in 1982.  In his seven previous appearances, Keflezighi has made the podium three times and has only finished outside of the top-10 once when he got food poisoning the night before the race in 2006 and finished 20th.

"I'm excited to celebrate the tenth anniversary of my debut in the marathon by running the 2012 ING New York City Marathon," said Keflezighi, who battled to a fourth place finish at the London Olympic Marathon and will also run the 2013 ING NYC Marathon under a special two-year deal.  "By this November, I will have run eight of the last 10 NYC Marathons. I'm thankful for not only winning the race in 2009, but also finishing in the top 10 in all but one."

Keflezighi, the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon silver medalist, has a career best time of 2:09:08 set at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

For Abdirahman, 35, of Tucson, Ariz., and Hall, 29, of Redding, Calif., the race in New York will give them an opportunity to rebound from their disappointing performances at the Olympic Games where both athletes dropped out.  Abdirahman, whose best time is 2:08:56, heard a pop in his knee, while Hall (2:04:58) complained of tightness in his legs.  Both athletes recorded their last splits in London at 15 kilometers before dropping out soon after, telling the media that they did so to guard against further injury.  Abdirahman tweeted two days ago that he is "healthy and training again," and Hall recently tweeted that he is "forgetting what is behind (and) straining towards what is ahead."

Gotcher, who turns 28 on Sept. 1 and lives and trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., will be making his ING New York City Marathon debut.  He has a personal best time of 2:10:36 set in Houston in 2010.  Arciniaga, 29, who trains with Gotcher in Flagstaff, ran his best time of 2:11:30 in Houston in 2011.  Carlson, 30, who lives and trains in Minneapolis, ran 2:11:24 at the Trials in his marathon debut.  Vail, 26, of Portland, Ore., made his marathon debut at the Trials in 2:12:43.

"In 2009, I was lucky enough to ride in the lead car at the ING New York City Marathon when Meb had his historic win," Gotcher recalled in a statement.  "From that moment on, I was sold. To finally be able to toe the line on the biggest marathon stage is a thrill, and truly an honor."

Hartmann, 31, from Boulder, Colo., ran his best time of 2:11:06 in Chicago in 2010, but is best known for his come-from-behind fourth place finish at the 2012 Boston Marathon where he endured searing heat.  Bauhs, 26, from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., will be making his marathon debut; he has a half-marathon personal best of 1:01:30 and is coached by Terrence Mahon of the Mammoth Track Club.

"I'm excited for the morning of November 4," Hartmann said through a statement.  "Everyone dreams of running the ING New York City Marathon: it's a bucket-list race."

This is not the first time the ING New York City Marathon has offered a USA-only purse.  The race hosted the 2001 USA men's and women's marathon championships (won by Scott Larson and Deena Drossin), and the 2010 USA Women's Marathon Championships (won by Shalane Flanagan).  This year's USA purse is divided equally amongst men and women and will be paid five-deep: $20,000-15,000-10,000-3,500-1,500.  American athletes are permitted to win prize money from both the ten-deep open purse ($135,00 for the winner) and the USA purse.

Wittenberg also announced a trio of American men who will compete in the race's wheelchair division.  Krige Schabort (formerly of South Africa), Adam Bleakney and Josh George all plan to compete.  Schabort, 49, of Ceadartown, Ga., has twice won the ING New York City Marathon (2003/'03).

The ING New York City Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors and will be the final event of the 2011/2012 series.  The race is the world's largest marathon (last year's edition had nearly 47,000 finishers).

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