Three athletes three-peat in the half-marathon; sold-out 15,000 combined field; ING Run for Something Better program draws 1,500
ATLANTA - (March 29, 2009) - After days of drought-relieving rain left Atlanta with cool and windy conditions on Sunday, James Boit felt like this might be his day. Boit, a Kenyan living in Peachtree City, Ga., switched from the half to the full marathon on race day and went on to win the ING Georgia Marathon in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 16 seconds. The combo distance running event sold out with 15,000 participants registering for the third ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon.
"I switched to the marathon today because I felt like I could be fast," said Boit, who notched his second marathon victory in the state of Georgia this March after winning in Albany and here closed with a strong enough sprint to nearly catch the police escort at the finish line. "I was happy that everybody did not start too fast in the first 10 miles. I laid back for a while at the 20-mile mark, then, I was really strong at the end and took the lead for good at mile 24."
Serkalem Abrha of Ethiopia came out on top in the women's field in 2:41:31, edging out runner-up Albina Gallyamova of Russia.
"This was a hard race for me," said Abrha, who won the ING Hartford Marathon in 2008. "But I was very confident when I was leading, so I felt very good once I got to the front."
Kenyan Janet Cherobon, who lives in Rome, Ga., took victory for the third straight year in the women's Open division of the ING Georgia Half Marathon in 1:14:49. Cherobon's pace was fast enough to finish in the top 10 overall in the half-marathon. Patrick Cheruiyot of Kenya was the men's winner in 1:05:18.
"I like this course very much, especially the hills which are very good for me. It's definitely a home course advantage for me," said Cherobon. "I love this race and it was perfect conditions today for a fast race."
"The weather often writes its own story for us in this race and this year is no exception as days of heavy rain left the area just in time for the start," said Michael Hughes, race director ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon. "The runners were blessed with cool conditions that were just right for fast times over our beautiful, but challenging course. The participation of everyone, from the runners to the volunteers to the spectators, was a fantastic and energetic way to kick off spring in Atlanta."
The wheelchair half-marathon saw third straight titles for both the men's and women's Open divisions. Krige Schabort and Amanda McGrory defended their titles from 2007 and 2008, further cementing their domination of the event. Schabort, who resides in Cedartown, Ga., finished in 49:14, setting a new race record, while McGrory from Champaign, Ill. clocked a 1:05:36.
"I may be a little bit different than other racers because I actually prefer the hills," said McGrory about the challenging race course. "It's a difficult course, but it is definitely one of my favorites."
The ING Run for Something Better program, also in its third year in Atlanta, sported a field of 1,500 middle school children finishing the Final Mile of a half-marathon along the same course. This year, students in 26 local middle schools (Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County Schools and a Decatur Middle School) ran 13.1 miles over nine weeks in their physical education classes.
The urban marathon racecourse starts and finishes at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta and in-between takes runners through the most interesting areas and historic neighborhoods of Atlanta and the city of Decatur. Adding to its popularity, the ING Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon boasts an incredibly high completion rate of more than 98 percent for its first three years, which reflects the determination of the runners as well as the course experience itself.
* 15,000 total entrants
* 11,998 total starters
* 11,918 total finishers
* 99.3 percent finishing rate
* Total Prize Purse: nearly $25,000
* Age of youngest marathoner: 17
* Age of oldest marathoner: 77
* U.S. states represented: 50 (plus Washington DC and the territory of Puerto Rico)
* Countries represented: more than 32
* Number of volunteers: more than 2,000
* Temperature at the start: 44° F (cloudy)
* Temperature at the finish: 49° F (cloudy)
* 1,500 schoolchildren from area middle schools finished the Final Mile as part of ING's Run for Something Better
Complete race results are available at: INGgeorgiamarathon.com.