Women’s London Olympic 5,000m Champion Meseret Defar Joins 5,000m and 10,000m double Olympic champion Mo Farah at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon
NEW ORLEANS, LA – February 14, 2013 – A city with a world-class reputation for hosting marquee sporting events will soon showcase the most high-profile road race to take place in the U.S. this year with the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon on Sunday, February 24.
Double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah headlines the men’s race and a loaded women’s half-marathon field is anchored by two of the biggest superstars in U.S. distance running: the fastest American female ever to run a half-marathon Kara Goucher (1:06:57) and her training partner Shalane Flanagan (1:08:37), the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters, who recently won her sixth U.S. Cross Country title in St. Louis. The Portland-based duo will look to use the pancake flat New Orleans course as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon in April.
“After coming off an injury this fall, I am looking forward to racing again in the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon,” said Goucher, who has run three of the top-5 fastest half-marathon times in U.S. history. “I have been training up in Colorado Springs and am ready to run my first race as I start the process of regaining my form leading into Boston. The Rock ‘n’ Roll series is the perfect place for me to get back into racing and I am excited to be the part of such a fun, fast course.”
Lined up to challenge the Oregon Track Club teammates are Ethiopian great Meseret Defar, a multiple world record-holder who captured gold in the 5,000m at last summer’s Olympic Games; Ethiopia’s Berhane Adere, who set a U.S. all-comers mark of 1:07:52 in winning the New Orleans race in 2010; Kenya’s Jemima Jelegat, runner-up at the 2012 Boston Marathon; Kenya’s Mary Ngugi, who set her half-marathon PR of 1:10:54 last year; and New Zealand’s Mary Davies, winner of the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a personal best time of 2:28:56, the fourth-fastest marathon time by a New Zealand woman.
“I had a great experience in my first half marathon when I raced at Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia in 2010. I was so happy to win and hoped to run there last year but a small injury stopped me from racing,” said Defar, who has won the Carlsbad 5000 three times. “I’m looking forward to coming to New Orleans. I’m told that the course is fast and flat which I hope will suit me. I had a wonderful year last year winning a gold medal at the Olympics and I’m very excited about 2013 and hope that this half-marathon gives me a great start to my racing schedule.”
Defar’s legendary finishing speed helped her become one of the best distance runners in history. In addition to winning 5,000m gold in London, she captured gold in the same event at the 2004 Games in Athens, and a bronze medal at Beijing in 2008. Defar has also set the world 5,000-meter record twice. In her half-marathon debut at Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia in 2010, Defar shattered what was then the U.S. all-comers record, running 1:07:45, the fastest time ever run by a woman on American soil for the distance.
The talented field and New Orleans’ history for record road performances puts in jeopardy the U.S. all-comers’ mark of 1:07:11 set by New Zealand’s Kim Smith in 2012. At the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in 2010, Adere ran what was then the fastest half-marathon ever on American soil (1:07:52) before Defar broke the record in Philadelphia the following year, and Smith bested that mark at the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans (1:07:36).
The 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon begins at 7:00 am in downtown New Orleans on Poydras Street. With a fast and flat course below sea level, runners enjoy the sights along beautiful St. Charles Avenue, running out and back before touring the historic French Quarter, Esplanade Avenue and iconic City Park. The races will once again finish on Roosevelt Mall behind the New Orleans Museum of Art, where the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will kick off the post-race party.
Race weekend will kick off with the Health & Fitness Expo at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The expo is free and open to the public on Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23. More than 60 exhibitors and retailers will feature the latest health and nutrition information with a variety of products for sale and sample as well as free fitness related clinics.
Kids have the chance to get fit and have fun at ING KiDS ROCK New Orleans on Saturday, February 23. The non-timed, non-competitive fun run for kids in grades K-7 will take place in City Park and all participants receive a T-shirt, goodie bag and finisher’s medal. Registration and more information can be found online at INGKiDSROCK.com.
For more information or to register for the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon, please visit RunRocknRoll.com.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon will return to the Big Easy on Sunday, February 24, 2013. The streets will be rockin’ with the sounds of local bands and cheerleaders lining nearly every mile of the 26.2 and 13.1 mile-race courses, along with thousands of spectators. Event weekend kicks off on Friday, February 22 with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center where all participants pick up their race number and packet. The expo will feature more than one hundred running and fitness retailers, exhibits and interactive clinics. All Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans participants will be treated to a finish line concert headlined by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. For more information, please visit www.RunRocknRoll.com or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.