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Posted: April 24, 2009  :

(RWire) Athletics: Ladies First at the 10th Country Music Marathon

"Battle of the Sexes" $10,000 bonus; online registration closed Sunday, April 19; expo registration available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's ladies first in Nashville with the women's professional field starting approximately 15 minutes ahead of the men on Saturday, April 25 at the 10th anniversary of the Country Music Marathon and ˝ Marathon. For the first time in its 10 year history, the 2009 race will match the elite women against the elite men in a special "Battle of the Sexes" format that awards the first runner to cross the finish line a bonus of $10,000.

"The gender challenge is a unique twist we implemented for the 10th anniversary of the event," said Adam Zocks, General Manager. "Ideally, with the lead male runner closing on the lead female runner, it adds a special touch and provides extra entertainment at the end of the elite race for the thousands of spectators who come out to watch. I'm certain everyone will want to see the race to the finish line."

The men's field is lead by five runners with PRs faster than the event record, including Kenyan Joseph Chirlee, 27, who currently resides in Georgia. Chirlee, owner of a top 5 finish at the 2007 New York City Half Marathon, is better known on the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series for his unfortunate fall mere steps before the finish line in 2007 at San Diego. The incident cost Chirlee third place, but he picked himself up and staggered home for finish in fourth overall with a time of 2:12:10. The same year he also won the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Ala.

Alirio Carasco of Colombia has made two Colombian Olympic teams off the strength of his Country Music performances - 4th in 2000 and 3rd in 2004 - and owns a PR of 2:12:09 set at the Chicago Marathon in 2003. Abebe Yimer, two-time winner of the Las Vegas Marathon, and Amos Matui, PR of 2:12:14 set in Brussels in 2004, round out the favorites on the men's side.

The women's field will be highlighted by Anne Jelagat Kibor of Kenya who finished 2nd at the Country Music Marathon in 2006. 2008 Beijing Olympian Yuliya Arhipova of Kyrgyzstan owns a PR 2:34:10 from Frankfurt in 2007. Russia's Tatiana Pushkareva (2:34:55 PR) finished 4th at the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio and Tigist Abidi of Ethiopia has a PR of 2:33:01 set at the Enschede Marathon in Holland.

Other race favorites include American Michelle Suszek, who qualified for the 2008 U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials. Suszek was seeded 135th and finished 60th with a time of 2:45:16, out-running 75 of America's top distance runners. She has gone on to place in the top 10 women finishers at every race she's run since the Olympic Trials.

The elite women will begin the race first, getting an approximate 15-minute head start. Once the time gap has passed, the elite men will take off with the rest of the marathon field and try to chase down the elite women. The first person to break the finish tape will earn a $10,000 bonus over and above the first place prizes of $10,000.

The exact time difference will be determined by a panel of experts and based on several factors to insure that both male and female runners receive a fair opportunity to compete, with the goal that the two leaders will be sprinting down Titans Way together. The factors will include time difference between the men's (2:12:55) and women's (2:28:06) event records, the most recent performances, there history on courses similar to Nashville and in weather that will be expected on race day, as well as information regarding the athletes' recent training.

Race registration for both events will be available at the Health & Fitness Expo from 11:00am - 6:00pm Thursday, April 23 and 10:00am - 7:00pm Friday, April 24. For more information or to register for the Country Music Marathon or ˝ Marathon, visit or call (800) 311-1255.

About Country Music Marathon & Half-Marathon
Celebrating its 10th edition in 2009, the Country Music Marathon & ˝ Marathon will attract over 30,000 runners and 100,000 spectators to Music City on Saturday, April 25. The event is a weekend celebration complete with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo, YMCA Country Music Kids' Marathon and a post-race concert featuring Billy Currington.

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