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Posted: January 26, 2009  :

(RWire) Athletics: Slimani, Suszek Secure ING Miami Marathon Titles

Sold-out 15,000 field elevates event to largest distance race in South Florida; 4,000 children participant in ING Run for Something Better

From Jackie Tyson, Peloton Sports

MIAMI - (Jan. 25, 2009) - A trio of Americans took home three of the four race titles at the seventh running of the ING Miami Marathon & Half Marathon® on Sunday. Americans Michele Suszek of Colorado won the women's ING Miami Marathon and Pat Hayburn of Pennsylvania and Susanne Larsen of Michigan won the men's and women's half-marathons, respectively, while Moroccan Benazzouz Slimani, who resides in Italy, won the men's marathon. This year's edition included the largest number of event participants, with a sold-out field of 15,000 for the combo distance event.

Thirty-four-year-old Slimani closed strongly to win the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 49 seconds. In a decisive win, Slimani stepped ahead as the leader early and maintained the lead the entire race.

"This is my first race in the United States and this is such beautiful city, culture and country," said Slimani. "I am very happy to win my first American race here and look forward to running more races in the United States."

Kenyan Jynocel Basweti secured second place in the marathon, staying within sight of the leader the entire race; he completed the marathon in 2:18:14. Basweti's countryman Edward Tabut was third (2:18:30).

In the women's race, Michele Suszek pulled off an exciting come-from-behind victory, making her final pass in the last half mile to win by 20 seconds, with a time of 2:43:31.

"With two miles to go, I could see the leader ahead and pushed the pace," said the 26-year-old female champion. "I never thought about passing her and was just praying my pace was good enough."

Suszek had heart surgery in 2003 for complications from Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Now fully recovered, she had hoped for a personal record. "I was 30 seconds off my personal best today, but I'm happy with the final result."

Suszek bested Kenyan Zeddy Kepchoech, who held the lead over most of the 26.2 mile course. Kepchoech finished second in 2:43:51. Ecuadorian Sandra Ruales Mosquera finished third (2:50:36).

The men's division of the ING Miami Half Marathon was won by Pat Hayburn in 1:11:12. "The field spread out a bit early and I was actually able to enjoy the race a bit," said Hayburn. "The course is really beautiful - the cruise ships and seeing the sunrise as you run - it's a big difference from home."

Hayburn held to the fast pace by his teammate, training partner and next-door neighbor Kevin Cunningham, who earned second place in 1:11:32. Jose Gutembergue Ferreira of Brazil ran a 1:13:00 for third.

Suzanne Larsen of Michigan captured the women's half-marathon title in 1:20:38. Karina Navarette Duenas of Ecuador finished runner-up, more than three minutes back, in 1:23:50, while Mexico-native Yamile Alaluf took third (1:24:54).

"I felt really great, but coming from Michigan, I knew this would be a great race," said Larsen. "It's a treat not to run on ice this time of year."

Now in its seventh year, the ING Miami Marathon & Half Marathon has grown to become South Florida's largest distance running event. A total of 12,376 started the race under ideal temperatures of 61 degrees at American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami. There were 2,630 finishers in the marathon. The marathon course traveled to the vibrant Miami Beach neighborhoods and back along picturesque causeways, showing off the best of Miami's communities before finishing at Bayfront Park. The half-marathon had 9,589 finishers on the 13.1-mile course, for a finish rate of 98 percent.

"Today's sold-out race was a tribute to the vibrancy of the city, the support of ING and our sponsors, the dedication of our volunteers and the determination of our racers," said Gaby Pozo, race director of the ING Miami Marathon & Half Marathon. "The ING Miami Marathon & Half Marathon is a showcase of our community and the vibrancy that is Miami."

Joining the runners today were a special group of middle-school children from the Miami-Dade County School System. As part of the ING Run for Something Better, nearly 4,000 children completed the Final Mile of their own marathon. Having trained through the winter, the children completed 25 miles of running through the free fitness program before the event. They completed their Final Mile on Sunday under picture-perfect skies with the company of Congressman Kendrick Meek (FL) who joined the children for the run.

"To every racer today, including the 4,000 children who ran the ING Run for Something Better Final Mile, we extend our congratulations," said Ann Glover, chief marketing officer, ING Americas. "As a company, ING's goal is to help make it easier for people of all ages to achieve success - whether it's running a marathon or preparing for a safe, secure financial future."

Next year's ING Miami Marathon & Half Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 30, 2010.

7th ING Miami Marathon
Miami, FL, Sunday, January 25, 2009

1) Benazzouz Slimani (MAR), 2:16:49, $5000
2) Jynocel Basweti (KEN), 2:18:14, $2500
3) Edward Tabut (KEN) 2:18:30, $1000
4) David Tuwei (KEN) 2:19:50

1) Michele Suszek (USA / CO), 2:43:31, $5000
2) Zeddy Chepkoech (KEN), 2:43:51, $2500
3) Sandra Ruales Mosquera (ECU), 2:50:36, $1000

7th ING Miami Half Marathon
1) Pat Hayburn (USA / PA), 1:11:12
2) Kevin Cunningham (USA / PA), 1:11:32
3) Jose Gutembergue Ferreira (BRA), 1:13:00

1) Suzanne Larsen (USA / MI), 1:20:38
2) Karina Navarette Duenas (ECU), 1:23:50
3) Yamile Alaluf (MEX), 1:24:54

Complete results and more at:

Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Director
(805) 696-6232; Fax = (805) 659-0016

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