Published by ross
Feb 24th 2010, 10:55pm | 1456 views

By David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - used with permission

NEW YORK (24-Feb) -- Deena Kastor and Mara Yamauchi, who will face each other at April's Virgin London Marathon, will square off first at the NYC Half-Marathon on March 21 here, the New York Road Runners announced today.  The Road Runners also announced that Kiyoko Shimahara of Japan and Madai Perez of Mexico had also joined the field.

"The women's lineup is now jam-packed with some of the world's greatest runners including American veteran Deena and international stars like Mara, Kiyoko, and Madai," said NYRR CEO and president, Mary Wittenberg, who will direct what is the fifth edition of America's richest half-marathon.  "The race will only up the intrigue leading into the spring marathons."

Kastor, 37, was the Olympic Marathon bronze medallist in Athens in 2004.  Since then she has won both the World Marathon Majors races in Chicago (2005) and London (2006).  She is the American record holder for both the half-marathon (1:07:34) and marathon (2:19:36).

"This fits perfectly into my preparations," Kastor said in a statement.  "I look forward to testing my fitness on the roads of New York City.  New York Road Runners always attracts the best distance runners in the world to their events, and the NYC Half-Marathon is no exception."

Unlike Kastor, who ran the NYC Half-Marathon last year, the 36 year-old Yamauchi will be making her debut at the event.  Widely recognized as Britain's #2 marathoner behind Paula Radcliffe, Yamauchi took second at last April's London Marathon, running a personal best 2:23:12.  Sixth in the Beijing Olympic Marathon in 2008, Yamauchi has a very fast 1:08:29 half-marathon personal best.  Along with husband and coach, Shigetoshi, Yamauchi lives in Tokyo, but will be coming to the United States next week for altitude training in New Mexico before racing in New York.

"The atmosphere and support in New York is fantastic," said Yamauchi who last raced here at the NYRR New York Mini 10-K in 2007 where she finished third.  "I am really looking forward to racing against top-level competitors in this event.  This will be my final tune-up, so I can sharpen my race tactics before heading to London."

Shimahara, 33, and Perez, 30, have both raced the NYC Half-Marathon before.  Shimahara, who has a 1:10:16 personal best, finished tenth in 2008, and is coming off of a career year where she made the podium in three marathons.  Perez, the Mexican record holder for the marathon, ran the NYC Half in both 2007 and 2008, setting her career best time of 1:10:26 in the latter performance.  She's using the race as a tune-up for the Boston Marathon.

On the American side, Sally Meyerhoff, 26, of Scottsdale, Ariz., who was the 2009 USA 25-K Championship runner-up, will make her NYC Half-Marathon debut.  Representing ZAP Fitness/Reebok, Jessica Minty, 25, of Blowing Rock, NC, who placed 12th at the USA Half-Marathon Championship earlier this year, also joined the field.

Wittenberg and her team moved the race to the spring this year for the first time (the previous four editions had been in the summer), so the event could serve as a tune-up for the top spring marathons.  In addition, she increased the prize money purse to $100,000 with $20,000 going to the winners.  That's the largest non-marathon first place prize of any road race in the 50 states.  The New York Road Runners expect over 10,000 runners to finish the race from Central Park to Battery Park; nearly 20,000 runners applied for the event through a lottery.


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