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Posted: May 28, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Athletics: U.S. Olympian Dan Browne Headlines the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Field

Four Past Champions Return to Final Marathon Finish at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot

San Diego, CA -- May 28, 2009 -- For it's last year finishing at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will feature one of the most exciting professional fields in the history of the event. Headlining this year's elite field is American Dan Browne, who recently moved to Chula Vista, Calif. Browne won his third U.S. 25-kilometer championship earlier this month and will lead the U.S. men's marathon team at the 12th IAAF World Championships on Saturday, August 22 in Berlin.

"I'm excited to be running the Rock 'n' Roll this year," said Browne, who represented the U.S. in both the marathon and 10,000m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. "I've heard it's a great event and a lot of fun. I'm ready to run hard."

Browne owns a marathon PR of 2:11:35 from a victory at the 2002 Twin Cities Marathon and has represented team USA four times at the World Cross Country Championships. He finished sixth in the U.S. Olympic Trials in November of 2007 and has an impressive 16 national titles to his name.

The strongest competition for Browne should, most likely, come from Kenya's Samuel Mugo, 23, who has won his last two marathons and also improved his PR on both occasions. Mugo won the Porto Marathon in Portugal last year running 2:11:08 and earlier this year posted an impressive 2:08:51 winning the Xiamen International Marathon (China) in January.

To some though, the favorite should be 29-year-old Ethiopian Dejene Berhanu who won the local Carlsbad 5000, recognized as the world's premier race for the distance, in 2004 and 2005 as well as finishing 5th in the 5000m at the Athens Olympics. Berhanu ran 2:08:46 in his debut marathon in 2006 and won the 2004 Great North Run in 59:37 for the half marathon, which was at the time the national record.

Browne, Mugo and Berhanu are expected to be joined in the lead pack by a trio of Ethiopians, including 2000 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Tesfaye Tola. Tola owns the fastest PR in the field at 2:06:57. Abiyote Guta set his PR of 2:10:38 five years ago when he was just 19 years old. He ran in Otsu, Japan earlier this year where he posted a time of 2:11:18 Tekeste Nekatibebe has a PR of 2:12:00, which he set last year at the Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands where he finished third. The European challenge will be led by Oleksandr Sitkovskyyof the Ukraine who set his PR of 2:10:16 when finishing second in Turin last year.

"We are looking forward to a fast and competitive race at the 12th running of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon," said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator for the event. "We have a great mixture of east African talent, both seasoned pros and up and coming athletes who will surely make a name for themselves over the next few years."

Former Rock 'n' Roll champions Belay Wolasha of Ethiopia and Philip Tarus of Kenya are returning to the marathon this year. Tarus is the course record holder, whose time of 2:08:33 has now stood as San Diego's best for 9 years. Belay was the winner of the 2000 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and is opening a training camp just outside Addis Ababa, and hopes to encourage runners of all abilities, locations and backgrounds to come over and train like the Ethiopians.

On the women's side, the defending champions from both 2007 and 2008 will return to San Diego this year. 2008 winner Yuliya Gromova of Russia returns to the course where she set her PR of 2:28:23. She will have her hands full with 2007 Champion Hellen Kimutai of Kenya, whose PR of 2:25:52 was set in Hamburg in 2003. In her past two marathons she ran sub 2:30 times in Beijing and Seoul last year.

"It's great to have the last two female champions on the start line," added Turnbull. "I'm sure both runners will be eager to stand on the top of the podium in 2009."

The women's field includes two other dangerous competitors. Ethiopian Liela Laman has a PR of 2:27:54 set in Berlin in 2004 and San Diego will be her first race after having a baby last year. Albina Mayorova represented Russia in the 2004 Olympic Games and has a PR of 2:25:35 from Chicago in 2003. She was 7th in Rome earlier this finishing in 2:30:21.

American stars Ryan Hall and Josh Cox will run the first part of this Sunday's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego to pace Tom Bedford, son of Virgin London Marathon race director and former world record-holder at 10,000m Dave Bedford, sub 2:25 marathon attempt to win a bet he made with his father after last year's London Marathon. But in doing so, Tom will be raising money for the Entoto Foundation, a 501C3 charity based in San Diego that funds medical care for children in Ethiopia.

"I am excited to support Tom in his noble goal of not only running a world class marathon time but more importantly helping people that he, and I, have a big heart for," said Ryan Hall. "When I think about what I want to have accomplished when I have run my last marathon I hope that I have used my God-given abilities to help people. Tom is doing just that so it is my honor to help him in whatever way I can. I hope that I, and other runners, can follow in his footsteps."

Tom's 2:25 Challenge began - as so many bets do - in a London pub after last year's London Marathon. Over a pint or two Tom said he could manage a sub-2:25 if he trained. Following the grand tradition of mocking any declaration delivered over a pint, Tom's father and friends instantly challenged his sanity and ability. Tom quickly asked if they'd like to make it interesting. So the bet was made. Tom would have three years to fulfill his boast, and could run as many marathons as necessary to complete his goal. To further his chances and broaden his appeal, Tom asked that all bets against him go to the Entoto Foundation which was founded in 2007 by Rich Jayne, Tim Murphy and Mike Long of Elite Racing. San Diego will be Tom's second attempt at the 2:25 Challenge. His first was a solid, but unsuccessful 2:33 at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. last fall.

To date Tom has over $26,000 pledged against him. To join in the fun and bet against Tom, go to the Entoto Foundation's website at www.entoto.o. Here's the kicker. Guess what time Tom runs, and if you are among the closest five you will receive a personally signed to you piece running gear from the likes of world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie, five-time World Cross Country champion Paul Tergat, 2008 Olympic Marathon champions Sammy Wanjiru and Constantina Tomescu-Dita, and Ryan Hall and Josh Cox, Tom's two pacers on Sunday.

The entire field of elite athletes will be introduced during the official media briefing at 11:00 am Friday on the Bayside Terrace of the San Diego Convention Center, site of the event's two-day Health and Fitness Expo. The race begins Sunday morning at 6:30 am on 6th Avenue at Palm in Balboa Park, with live bands and local high school cheer squads performing along every mile of the 26.2-mile course. For more information about the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon or to view a complete start list, please visit RNRMarathon.com.

Dan Browne at the at the 2004 Olympics (Courtesy Photo Run)

About The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
In 2009, the original Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will celebrate its 12th year as San Diego's premiere running event. Annually one of the largest marathons in the country, the road race is still recognized for its record inaugural running that brought 15,771 participants across the finish line. The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon's official charity, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, has raised over $142 million through its endurance sports training program over the 12 year history of the race.

A two-day Health & Fitness Expo kicks off race weekend at the San Diego Convention Center on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. The expo is free and open to the public and is where all race participants pick up their race number, browse through fitness related products and attend informational clinics. Today, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series has spread to nine cities nationwide, creating the first national series of marathons and half-marathons. For more information about the race, please call 800-311-1255 or visit RNRMarathon.com.


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