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Posted: May 29, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Historic Mini 10-K Attracts Olympic Medalists Kastor, Ndereba

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved RaceResultsWeekly.com

While women sometimes outnumber men in road races in the United States today, that was hardly the case back in 1972 when Fred Lebow and the New York Road Runners staged the 6-mile Crazylegs Mini Marathon, the world's first all-women's road race. It was in that historic year that the late President Nixon signed Title IX legislation which mandated equal funding for women in education (which included sports programs), and the Boston Marathon finally allowed women to officially register.

Sponsored by a women's shaving cream and featuring Playboy bunnies on the starting line to help garner more publicity, 78 women, including race co-founders Nina Kuscsik and Kathrine Switzer, ran a six-mile loop of Central Park. California's Jacqueline Dixon won in 37:02.

We've come a long way, baby. Now called the NYRR New York Mini 10-K, the race evolved into one of the most important women's running event of all-time. The contest grew in both size and stature, attracting the greatest women's runners in history. Mini Champions include Norway's Grete Waitz and Ingrid Kristiansen (Waitz won the race five times and Kristiansen twice); Kenya's Tegla Loroupe (a five-time winner), the Netherlands' Lornah Kiplagat (a four-time winner), Scotland's Liz McColgan and England's Paula Radcliffe.

Leading an exceptional field for the 38th running of the race on Sunday, June 7, will be 2004 Mini champion and Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and 2004 and 2008 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, Catherine Ndereba of Nairobi, Kenya.

For Kastor, it will be her fourth appearance at the Mini. She debuted in the event in 2002, finishing sixth in 32:08, before winning in her second appearance in 31:44, still the fastest road 10-K of her career. She raced the Mini last year in warm and humid conditions, finishing third in 33:14.

"I am so excited to be returning to New York for what is one of my favorite road races of the season," Kastor said in a statement. "The Mini always attracts a great field of elite athletes as well as an empowered field of women ready to take on this challenging Central Park course. As usual, New York Road Runners has put together an impressive field so I'll have my work cut out for me."

Like Kastor, Ndereba has run the Mini three times, but has never won (her best finish was second in 2000 in 32:22). It's one of the few marquis events in which the Kenyan hasn't prevailed. According to an analysis prepared by Association of Road Racing Statisticians co-founder Ken Young, Ndereba has 122 lifetime victories in 247 starts on all surfaces (road, cross, track). She's won 59 road 10-K's, according to Young.

A terrific international field will be joining Kastor and Ndereba on the starting line, fourteen of whom have broken 33 minutes for 10 km either on the track or the road. They include Americans Serena Burla (32:47.48), Magdalena Lewy Boulet (32:33.02), Amy Rudolph (31:18.96), and Sara Slattery (31:57.94); Briton Michelle Ross-Cope (32:41), Ethiopians Aziza Aliyu (32:43) and Ashu Kasim (32:09.67); Japanese Yuri Kano (31:53.07), Kenyan Rose Kosgei (32:14+), and South African Rene Kalmer (32:28). In all, five Olympians are in the field.

The Mini winner will pocket $10,000 out of a $35,000 prize money purse which includes special prize money for Americans.

"For more than three decades the Mini has been the world's premier all-women race, and this year's competitive line-up continues this grand tradition," said New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg, who also directs the race. "With Deena being the only former champion in the field, a victory in this year's race could be an exclamation point on somebody's career."

NOTE: Registration for the race is open to women of all abilities at NYRR.org --Ed.

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