NEW YORK, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On ING New York City Marathon Opening Day 2011, New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg announced the return of a trio of champions on the broadcast of NYRR Live from Columbus Circle. Headlining the field on Sunday, November 6, will be 2010 winners Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia and Edna Kiplagat of Kenya and 2009 champion Meb Keflezighi of the United States.
Keflezighi, the first American to win the race since Alberto Salazar in 1982, was joined by three-time U.S. Olympian Jen Rhines and eight-time Olympic speed skating medalist Apolo Anton Ohno on the NYRR Live half-hour show hosted by Today Show personality Al Roker, veteran WNBC sportscaster Bruce Beck, and WNBC reporter Cat Greenleaf. Both Rhines and Ohno were also announced by Wittenberg for this year's race, to be run on Sunday, November 6.
Seen on tv.nyrr.org, NYRR Live was broadcast just steps from the famed marathon course and featured a special drawing of entrants for the race, along with prizes and giveaways to the live audience of several hundred. NYRR officials anticipate a race-record 140,000 applicants, with a record 90,000 in the drawing for about 45,000 starting spots. At the end of the show, entrants will learn of their acceptance status on the tv.nyrr.org website.
The findings of a NYRR study based on a survey of more than 1,000 participants from last year's race indicates a total economic impact of approximately $340 million for New York City, Wittenberg announced. This represents a 25-percent jump since the last study, done in 2006, and was accompanied by a growth in the charity program that raised more than $30 million in 2010.
"Opening day, our launch to marathon season, is the starting line for our extended marathon family of professionals like Meb, Gebre, Edna, and Jen, our celebrity stars like Apolo, all the runners from around the country and the world who have secured coveted spots in the race, and their friends, family, and fans, who are now all on the road to the finish at the greatest day in running, the ING New York City Marathon," said Wittenberg.
Keflezighi, 35, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, is a New York favorite who will be running the race for the seventh time and has showed remarkable consistency, with five top-10 finishes including his historic triumph in 2009 and last year's sixth-place finish as the top American. He'll get extra attention this year, as he's looking to run both New York and the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials race in Houston in January 2012.
"Marathons are always challenging, but I'm challenging myself further with my goal to run both the ING New York City Marathon 2011 and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials," said Keflezighi. "This timing and challenge is very similar to 2004, when I won the silver medal at the Olympic Games and was the runner-up in the ING New York City Marathon 70 days later. This experience gives me, Coach Bob Larsen, and the rest of my team the confidence to pursue the goal of winning the ING New York City Marathon again, and making a third U.S. Olympic team."
Keflezighi will match up against the defending champion, Gebremariam, 26, of Ethiopia. Since winning the ING New York City Marathon in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 14 seconds, Gebremariam has finished second at the NYC Half in March in a time of 1:00:25 and third at the Boston Marathon last week in a time of 2:04:53.
Ohno, 28, of Seattle, is the most decorated USA Winter Olympian of all time, having skated his way to two gold, two silver, and four bronze short-track speed skating medals. He has already demonstrated his excellence off his skates by winning the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars in 2007, but running his first 26.2-mile race will be by far one of his biggest career challenges.
"Running a marathon is something that I've never done, and I am super excited to take on this incredible challenge," said Ohno, who took up the challenge by his fellow Subway® enthusiast Jared Fogle, who finished last year's ING New York City Marathon. "I hope my journey can serve as an inspiration for others to meet their health goals, get their nutrition in order, and ultimately make smarter lifestyle choices."
Kiplagat, 31, of Kenya, continued her success after her victory, taking second place at the NYC Half in March in a time of 1:09:00. She finished third at the Virgin London Marathon last week, running 2:20:46.
Rhines, 36, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, is coming off a five-year marathon hiatus after finishing fourth in the Rome Marathon on March 26, 2006. She competed in the 2004 Olympic marathon, but has recently focused on shorter distances, including the 5000 meters, which she ran in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Rhines has already won two national championships this year, claiming the half-marathon crown in January and the 15K title last month.
"It is with great excitement and anticipation that I return to the streets of New York this fall," said Rhines, who last ran New York in 2005. "My training this year shows me that I am stronger than ever, and I will be ready to reach a new personal best. I can't wait to be fighting for a place on the podium this November!"
New York Road Runners
Headquartered in New York City, New York Road Runners is dedicated to advancing the sport of running, enhancing health and fitness for all, and meeting our community's needs. Our goal is to use the expertise acquired in our 53-year history to empower all people to live fitter, healthier lives through participation in our races, community events, instruction and training resources, and youth programs. Our races and other events draw more than 300,000 people each year. The ING New York City Marathon, NYRR's premier event, is the largest and most inclusive marathon in the world, attracting the world's top professional runners every year and raising $30.8 million for charity in 2010. NYRR's running-based youth programs, which currently serve more than 100,000 children in hundreds of schools and community centers, promote children's health and fitness, character development, and personal achievement in underserved communities. For more information, visit www.nyrr.org.
The ING New York City Marathon
The premier event of New York Road Runners, the ING New York City Marathon is one of the world's great road races, drawing some 140,000 applicants. The race attracts many world-class professional athletes, not only for the $800,000 in prize money, but also for the chance to excel in the media capital of the world before two million cheering spectators and a worldwide broadcast reach of 330 million. As any one of the more than 875,000 past participants will attest, crossing the finish line in Central Park is one of the great thrills of a lifetime. For more information, visit www.ingnycmarathon.org.
Drea Braxmeier 212.423.2287 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Relations Department, New York Road Runners
SOURCE New York Road Runners