On Sunday, March 21, New York Road Runners welcomed nearly 15,000 runners from around the world to New York City for the 5th annual New York City Half Marathon. Among these athletes were a highly competitive bunch of elite runners, including Olympians and World Record Holders.
Favored by many were Haile Gebreselassie, the Ethiopian phenomena who holds the men’s world record in the marathon, considered by many as one of the greatest distance runners of all time, and Deena Kastor, who holds the title of the American Women’s Marathon record holder. Neither was able to pull a win at this morning’s race.
In the men’s field, Gebreselassie was the obvious favorite for today’s race. His world record for the marathon, set at the Berlin Marathon in 2008 broke his own previous world record and has not been touched since by another athlete. After Meb Keflezighi of the United States, 2009 NYC Marathon champion, was forced to withdraw due to injury, most assumed that Gebreselassie would lead the pack today, although not without serious competition by the other elite men.
As the race began, Peter Kamais (Kenya) led the men’s pack with Haile Gebreselassie and Moses Kigen-Kipkosgei just behind him. Suddenly near the exit of Central Park, about 7 miles into the race, Haile dropped out. Spectators wondered if he was trying to catch his breath or get rid of a side stitch, and more importantly whether he would continue. When he rejoined the race moments later, he had dropped to 5th place. It quickly became clear that he was out of contention for the win.
Kamais held on for the win, with an unofficial finish time of 59:53. Moses Kigen-Kipkosgei, also of Kenya, placed 2nd in 1:00.38 and Mohammed Trafeh (USA) was 3rd in 1:00:40.
Over in the women’s race, Kastor looked strong throughout much of the course. She knew going into the day that her biggest competition would likely be Mara Yamauchi of Great Britain, who is second in distance running in Great Britain only to Paula Radcliffe, who won the NYC Half in 2009.
Kastor took an early lead and was first among the elite women coming out of Central Park at about the mid-point of this 13.1 mile race through Manhattan. She continued to run down 7th Avenue at a record pace toward Times Square and over to the Westside Highway. With just a couple miles to go, however, Kastor was passed by Yamauchi, who quickly kicked up the paced and pulled ahead of the American distance runner.
Yamauchi won the race in approximately 1:09:17 (unofficial), with Kastor in second place and Madai Perez of Mexico in third.
New York Road Runners have posted on twitter that there are unconfirmed reports that both the men and women champions have set course records for the NYC Half Marathon.
The NYC Half continues to unfold this morning until approximately 10:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Official results will be posted later today.