(22-Feb) -- After being cancelled two years in a row due to the pandemic, the United Airlines NYC Half will return on Sunday, March 20, with a world-class elite field which features 24 Olympians and eight Paralympians including USA medalists Galen Rupp and Molly Seidel. Rupp, 35, ran the race once back in 2011 when he finished third in 1:00:30, while Seidel has never run the race before. This year's event will have a total field of 25,000, according to New York Road Runners, the Manhattan-based not-for-profit which is organizing the event.
PHOTO: Molly Seidel finishing the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon in fourth place (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly).
"The United Airlines NYC Half was my debut at the distance, and was only the second road race of my professional career," Rupp said through a statement, recalling the 2011 race which he ran after a track meet he was planning on competing in New Zealand was cancelled because of an earthquake. "I can't believe that more than a decade has passed since then. It's wild that the race will be more than double the size it was when I ran in 2011, and I've heard the Brooklyn-to-Manhattan course is challenging, but a great tour of the Big Apple. With the World Championships taking place in my home state of Oregon later this summer, I'm looking for the race to be a great stepping stone to everything else I want to achieve in 2022."
Rupp's best time is 59:47 set at the point-to-point (but flat) Roma-Ostia race in Italy in 2018. Seidel, last August's Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, has a best time of 1:08:29 set in Atlanta a year ago.
The men's elite field features a mix of top athletes from around the globe. The fastest is Kenya's Rhonex Kipruto who has a personal best of 57:49. Others include Australian Brett Robinson (59:57), Ethiopia's Teshome Mekonen (1:00:02), Kenya's Stephen Sambu (1:00:41), Britain's Ben Connor (1:00:55), and Canada's Rory Linkletter (1:01:08). Other top Americans will be Abdi Abdirahman (1:00:29), Conner Mantz (1:00:55), Frank Lara (1:01:00), Biya Simbassa (1:01:08), Sam Chelanga (1:01:04), Jared Ward (1:01:36), and Ben True (1:02:39). On a frigid day, True won the race in 2018.
The fastest women in the field are Ethiopian Senbere Teferi (1:05:32), Kenyans Irine Cheptai (1:06:43) and Edna Kiplagat (1:07:41), and American Sara Hall (1:07:15). Hall's mark is the North American record, set last month in Houston. Other top competitors include Britain's Charlotte Purdue (1:08:23) and Steph Twell (1:08:55), Canada's Andrea Seccafien (1:09:38) and Natasha Wodak (1:09:41), Norway's Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (1:09:41), and Kenya's Sharon Lokedi (1:09:53). Other USA elites include Diane Nukuri (1:09:12), Dakotah Lindwurm (1:09:36), Lindsay Flanagan (1:09:37), Sarah Pagano (1:09:41), Emma Bates (1:09:44), Kim Conley (1:09:44), Steph Bruce (1:09:55), and Laura Thweatt (1:10:06).
The wheelchair field will be led by Americans Daniel Romanchuk and Tatyana McFadden, and Switzerland's Manuela Schär. Schär took home five medals from her fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo last August.
The open race winners will receive $20,000 in prize money, the highest first place prize in a USA half-marathon.
The 2022 edition of the United Airlines NYC Half will use a challenging course which begins in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, before taking the runners over the East River on the Manhattan Bridge then eventually to Central Park in Manhattan. The point-to-point course is USATF certified, but is not eligible for records because the start and finish are too far apart. The weather for this event is typically cold.