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‘Texas Showdown’ Highlights Second Annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio

Date: 
11/12/2009 - 18:33

SARock_n_Roll.gifInternational elite field to lead largest marathon and half-marathon in Texas - San Antonio, TX – More than 31,000 entrants from all 50 states and 23 countries will descend on south Texas to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon and 1/2 Marathon on Sunday, November 15. The second annual race features elite men's and women's fields vying for a prize purse that will award $17,500 to the champions. Interspersed with the international elite field at the start line will be some of the fastest runners in Texas, who will be competing in a statewide battle for a "Texas-only" prize purse in both the full and half-marathon.

“Building on the success of last year’s Texas Showdown, we have over twice as many elite Texas runners coming to San Antonio this year,” said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator for the event. “Last year proved what a flat course San Antonio offers and we should see some terrific competition at this year’s race.”

Leading the women’s field is returning ‘Texas Showdown’ Champion for the half-marathon Melisa Christian of Dallas. Christian owns a personal best of 2:42:07 from in her ninth place finish at the 2007 ING New York City Marathon, which qualified her for the 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston. She recently won the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon on November 1st with a time of 1:18:11.

“I really liked the (San Antonio) course,” said Christian, who will compete in the half-marathon. “It was well laid out, and with all the participants, it was impressive how well the event was organized. My training has been going great and you never know what can happen on race day. I’m hoping we have perfect weather like last year.”

The elite women's field features veteran runners who have performed well at past Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons. Russia's Tatiana Pushkareva, 24, finished fourth in San Antonio last year with a PR of 2:34:55 and won the 2009 Country Music Marathon in Nashville. Countrywoman Svetlana Ponomorenko, 40, won the 2008 Country Music Marathon. She returns to Texas as a master’s runner after winning Dallas Marathon in 2006 with a PR (personal record) of 2:29:55.

Expected to join them in the lead pack is 2008 Olympian Dorota Gruca of Poland. Gruca, who trains in New Mexico, finished 30th in Beijing Olympic Marathon with a time of 2:33:32. She owns a marathon PR of 2:27:46 when she finished 13th at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Kenya’s Evelyne Lagat has a personal marathon best of 2:42:14 from a 7th place at the 2009 Houston Marathon. The sister of U.S. distance great Bernard Lagat, she finished 6th at the ING Philadelphia Distance Run September 20th in 1:12:25.

In the men’s race, American Kyle O'Brien returns to San Antonio to run the marathon after finishing 4th overall in last year’s half-marathon. O’Brien runs with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Michigan and owns a marathon PR of 2:15:13 set in Chicago 2007. A 10-time Ohio Valley Conference champion in track and cross country, O’Brien represented Team USA in the marathon at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

His competition includes runners familiar to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. Leading the strong international field, will be New Zealand Olympian Mike Aish. Aish won the 2008 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, along with won 12 National NCAA Division II titles at Western State College in Colorado. Looking for his second Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon victory in 2009 will be Kenyan Peter Omae, who won the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon in June.

Fellow Kenyans expected to challenge with Omae, include Joseph Mutinda, Noah Talam, Sammy Kiplagat and Laban Moiben. Talam showed 3rd at the Country Music Marathon in April and is hoping to better his PR of 2:14:54 set at that race. Muntinda, 31, finished 3rd in the LALA Marathon in Mexico earlier this year running a PR of 2:13:19 on the way. Kiplagat won the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon in 1:05:53 earlier this month, while Moiben, the 2008 Los Angeles Marathon champion, recently won the Vulcan 10km in Birmingham AL, and has a 2:13:50 marathon PR from 2008.

Up-and-coming Ethiopian Amare Mulu rounds out the favorites in the men’s field. Mula won the 2008 Ljubljana Marathon in Slovenia with a time of 2:14:41. At only 22 years old, Mulu will be contesting his third marathon of 2009 in San Antonio. He finished 8th in Turin, Italy in April, before placing 5th on September 27th at the Warsaw Marathon in Poland.

Leading the half-marathon field is U.S. 50k record holder Josh Cox. Cox, who set the 50k in January at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona, is approaching the 13.1-mile race as a tune-up for the California International Marathon, to be held in Sacramento on December 6th.

“I’m always hoping to win,” Cox recently told Competitor Magazine. “I’d also like to run a PR. I don’t want to totally go to the wall, but I really want to run a fast time, because the faster I can run in San Antonio, the easier the first half will feel at Cal International. If I can run 1:02, 1:03 in San Antonio, coming through the half in 1:05, 1:06 in Sacramento will feel really pedestrian.”

Locally, Daniel Jess of San Antonio is expected to contend for the top prize in the ‘Texas Showdown’ for the men’s marathon. Jess finished 4th in the men’s race at the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in August with a time of 1:10:33.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago was great, my goal was to run under 1:11:00,” said Jess, who ran track and cross country at Indiana University. “I’ve slowed my training down from 120 miles and have had a couple 100 mile weeks over the latter half of October. My goal is to break 2:25, and eventually 2:19 to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials.”

The winning time for last year’s showdown marathon was 2:26:28. Jess recently returned to running and triathlon after recovering from a cornea transplant a couple of years ago. His sub 1:11 half marathon qualified him for the top-100 at October’s Chicago Marathon, but the cold weather forced him to drop out after 18 miles.

“I felt I was in really good shape for Chicago and was on pace for 15 miles, but I could never get warm,” he said, referring to the chilly start line temperature of 33 degrees. “I knew San Antonio was coming up and so I decided to look at it as an 18 mile tempo run. I’m looking forward to challenging for the Texas Showdown prize.”

The ‘Texas Showdown’ is open to all Texas runners and features a guaranteed purse of $11,500 for Texas athletes. The top male and female from Texas will receive $2,000 for the marathon and $1,000 for the half-marathon. In addition, a $350 time bonus will be awarded to any Texan participant who runs the marathon under 2:31 male/2:56 female or the half-marathon under 1:08:30 male/1:17 female, but does not win any prize money. To qualify for the Showdown’s prize purse, runners must have been a permanent resident in the state of Texas as of November 15, 2008.

The professional field of elite runners will be introduced at the event press conference on Friday, November 13 at 11:30 am on the 4th floor of the Alamodome. Limited race registration will be available at the event’s two-day health & fitness expo, which begins Friday at 11:00 am in the Alamodome. A wheelchair race will be the first competition of Sunday’s marathon, which begins at 7:25 am on Broadway adjacent to Lion's Field. The marathon and half-marathon runners will start at 7:30 am.

About The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon

A Competitor event, the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon and ½ Marathon will run on Sunday, November 15, 2009. Live bands and cheerleaders entertain participants along every mile of the scenic course that winds more than 26 miles past the historic Alamo, Mission San José and other San Antonio landmarks before ending at the Alamodome.

Event festivities begin with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo at the Alamodome on Fri., Nov. 13 and Sat., Nov. 14. The free Expo is open to the public and will feature the latest in endurance sports gear and nutrition products. The event will conclude with an evening headliner concert featuring Los Lonely Boys and Grand Funk Railroad at the Alamodome. All participants receive a free concert ticket with their race entry. For more information please visit http://san-antonio.competitor.com or call 800-311-1255.

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