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Posted: August 2, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: The World's Best to Compete at NYC Half-Marathon on August 16

Defending champion Tola, Hall, Makau, Abdirahman, Ramaala and Gharib and top women set for 13.1 mile duel on the streets of Manhattan

NEW YORK - (July 30, 2009) - Some of the world's best long distance runners, including defending champion Tadese Tola of Ethiopia, two-time IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships silver medalist Patrick Makau of Kenya, three-time 10,000 meter Olympian Abdi Abdirahman of the United States, ING New York City Marathon 2004 winner Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, and 2008 Olympic marathon silver medalist and two-time World Marathon champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, will duel on the streets of Manhattan at the NYC Half-Marathon on Sunday, August 16, it was announced by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.

Previously announced for the fourth annual 13.1-mile race was top American marathoner and 2008 Olympian Ryan Hall, 26, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, who will make his NYC Half-Marathon debut.

"This is a glittering lineup of the world's best emerging stars like Tola, Makau, and Hall, side-by-side with ageless veterans like Ramaala, Abdi and Gharib," said Wittenberg. "It should be a fast and furious race through the streets of Manhattan."

A trio of the sport's all-time greats - defending champion and two-time Olympic medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor of the U.S., and half-marathon world record holder Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands - headline the women's field.

A one-hour same-day highlights show of the race will air from 11:35pm until 12:35am on WABC-TV, Channel 7, in New York City.

Tola, 21, edged Makau in the final meters to win by one second in last year's NYC Half-Marathon, finishing in 1 hour, 58 seconds. Tola will make his first trip to New York since running the fastest 10K ever recorded in Central Park at the 2009 Healthy Kidney 10K in a time of 27:48.

Makau, 24, held on to finish second at the Healthy Kidney 10K in 28:28, nine seconds slower than his winning performance the previous year. Earlier this year, Makau ran the second fastest half-marathon ever (58:52) at the Ras Al Khaimah Half-Marathon and made his marathon debut at the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon in April, finishing fourth in 2:06:14.

Abdirahman, 32, of Tucson, AZ, will return to New York after running the Healthy Kidney 10K, where he finished 11th in 29:02 coming off of a knee injury. A four-time USA champion at 10,000 meters, he qualified for his third Olympic team by winning the 10,000 meters at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field and finished 15th in the event (27:52.53) at the Beijing Olympic Games. Abdirahman made his third appearance at the ING New York City Marathon last November and finished in sixth place (2:14:17).

The only man to ever win two World Championships marathon titles, Gharib, 37, of Morocco, who finished third at the London Marathon earlier this year in a Moroccan record time of 2:05:27, and four-time Olympian Ramaala, 37, who holds several South African records, including 59:20 for the half-marathon, will also compete.

Athletes will be vying for a prize purse of more than $70,000, with the men's and women's race champions each receiving $10,000.

The NYC Half-Marathon continues to attract the world's leading professional athletes, in addition to a sold-out field of more than 10,000 recreational runners from around the world. Runners were admitted on a first-come, first-served basis, a change from the lottery entry process that was used in previous years. On a course designed to celebrate New York City, the NYC Half-Marathon will take runners on a loop through Central Park, down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street, and along the expansive West Side Highway to Battery Park in the heart of the city's financial district, finishing with a view of the Statue of Liberty.

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