(Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE)

Meb Keflezighi Takes On Olympic Teammate Ryan Hall At San Diego Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon

SAN DIEGO – (May 28, 2012) – Famous for lining race routes with live bands and cheerleaders, the original Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon will celebrate its 15th birthday on Sunday, June 3, 2012. The 2012 event will feature half of the six-member U.S. Olympic Marathon team to the same event less than two months before the London Games, securing the men’s 1-2 finishers at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials – Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall, respectively, for Sunday’s half-marathon.

“Once they qualified for the Olympic team, I knew they would be focusing on London,” said Matt Turnbull, elite athlete recruiter who expects two a highly competitive races Sunday even though the big prize ahead is London. “We identified a couple of the runners who I knew would fit our race. It was good timing. The half-marathon is good timing for their full marathon and San Diego fits in that category. Of course, these guys have London in mind, but knowing their personalities, they don’t like to get beat.”

The Eritrean-born Keflezighi, 37, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998, is the defending half-marathon champion, outdueling four-time London Marathon champion Martin Lel of Kenya, who finished second in London this year, to win his first race in his adopted hometown.

“Winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half-Marathon was a turning point for me last year,” Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, said. “I enjoyed running my home course, where I knew every inch of the way, with family, friends and fans cheering me on. This will like be my last race leading up to the Olympic Games. This will be a fun race for me.”

Hall, the first American to break the one-hour barrier on a record standard half-marathon course and the U.S. record-holder at 59 minutes, 43 seconds set in 2007, also is anxiously looking forward to the competition.

“Being a native California boy, I am stoked to have the opportunity to race in my backyard at this year’s San Diego Half-Marathon,” Hall, 29, said. “Having lived and trained in San Diego before, I’m excited to finally race there having seen the race in years past. This year’s race fits perfectly with my preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games. It will serve as my all-important, last race before the Games. I’m looking at this opportunity as one last chance to learn and tweak my training accordingly before running in what I consider to be the biggest race of my life.”

Keflezighi and Hall waged a stirring battle at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Houston in January. Hall, the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials winner, led most of the route this time before the wind and leg fatigue slowed his pace and enabled Keflezighi to take control. Keflezighi earned his third Olympic berth with a personal record of 2:09:08. That race came only 60 days after he set a then PR of 2:09:13 in finishing sixth at the ING New York City Marathon. At 36, he was the oldest man to win the Olympic Trials and the first man to win the Olympic Trials and the New York City Marathon (2009).

Hall, the runner-up to Keflezighi at the Trials in 2:09:30, has run the fastest marathon ever by an American, 2:04:58 at Boston in 2011. Since Boston is a downhill and point-to-point course and is not recognized for record consideration, his legal PR is 2:06:17 at London in 2008. Unfortunately for Hall, the London Marathon course is not being used for the Olympic Marathon.

Even though Hall hasn’t raced in San Diego, the surroundings will be familiar to him because he does much of his training here.

“But he’ll be going against the hometown favorite (Keflezighi),” Turnbull said. “For Meb, last year’s race was special. He won’t want to be beaten this time, either.”

The event will kick-off with the wheelchair invitational beginning at 6:10am on Sunday, June 3, followed by the Marathon, ½ Marathon and Two-Person Half Marathon Relay at 6:15am. Further information about Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego is available online at: Competitor.com.

Tags: San Diego Rock N Roll

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