Endurance: Half-marathon

By the numbers: Meb Keflezighi headlines NYC Half elite men's field

February, 18, 2015
Feb 18
Meb KeflezighiAP Photo/Seth WenigMeb Keflezighi is back in New York after finishing fourth in last fall's NYC Marathon.
The New York Road Runners have announced the elite men’s fields for the 2015 NYC Half, headlined by 2014 Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein as they prepare for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

The overall for the March 15 race field includes a mix of talented runners who will run the full marathon distance in April and those using the bump in distance as endurance training for the 2015 track and field season.

“It is always a thrill and an honor to compete in New York City, and NYRR has been the most consistent supporter of my running career,” Keflezighi said in a press release. “As I train to defend my Boston Marathon title in April, there is no better race to prepare than the United Airlines NYC Half.”

Keflezighi opened his 2015 with a fourth place finish at the U.S. Half-Marathon Marathon Championships on Jan. 18, where he ran 62:18. Following up with the NYC Half Marathon puts him on the same race schedule he followed leading up to last year's Boston victory.

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Matt Tegenkamp setting his sights on 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon

February, 18, 2015
Feb 18
Matthew TegenkampJed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesMatt Tegenkamp is hoping for another chanve to wear a Team USA uniform in the Olympics.
Two-time U.S. Olympian Matt Tegenkamp finished seventh in the 5,000 meters at the Milrose Games, and while the distance is far from the 26.2 miles of a marathon it was still part of Tegenkamp's marathon training cycle ahead of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, to be held in Los Angeles on Feb. 13 of next year.

“(Coach) Jerry (Schumacher) and I talked things through and we knew the ultimate focus was going to be the Olympic Trials Marathon,” Tegenkamp told ESPN.com “I’m not going to run a marathon in 2015, but I am currently in a marathon cycle and doing things necessary pointing towards the trials.”

Tegenkamp did not race after last April’s U.S. 10-Mile Championships in Washington, D.C., and admits there were question marks surrounding his focus before he and Schumacher decided on a plan for 2016.

“Being banged up last year, having it lingering on, not getting the training in necessary and get in a fall marathon made me decide I didn’t want to do anything crazy this year,” Tegenkamp said. “In the U.S. you need to show up to the start line super healthy, firing on all cylinders, and need to finish top three.”

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Ryan Hall links up with legendary coach

September, 16, 2014
HallAP Photo/Steven SenneRyan Hall has been self-coached recently, but is now teaming up with legendary coach Jack Daniels.
Ryan Hall, the fastest American marathoner ever, is putting his trust in coach Jack Daniels after a phase of faith-based self-coaching.

“Jack has already played an influential role in my development as a runner as well as hundreds and thousands of others and I am confident he can help me get back to my full potential as a marathon runner,” Hall wrote on his official website.

“With the Olympic Trials just a year and a half away it’s time to start making progress towards my main goal as an athlete, to return to the Olympics and be at my very best there. This is something that has eluded me the last two Olympics but I am hopeful and expectant for the next years ahead with Jack’s guidance.”

Once named “World’s Best Coach” by Runner’s World Magazine, Daniels is has also advised running greats such as Jim Ryun and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Hall finished 20th at the 2014 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:17:50. It was his first marathon finished since a second-place showing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Hall dropped out of the 2012 Olympic marathon at the 11-mile mark due to a hamstring injury. Before its cancellation, Hall also withdrew from the 2012 New York City Marathon due to injury, and 2013 saw him scratched from the Boston and New York City marathons.

Hall was also previously coached by Terrence Mahon while with the Mammoth Track Club. Under Mahon, Hall set the American record for fastest debut marathon by running 2:08:24 at the 2007 London Marathon.

Months after leaving Mammoth, Hall ran his third consecutive Boston Marathon and finished fourth with the fastest marathon time ever by an American in 2:04:58, although American records are not recognized on the Boston course due to the point-to-point layout and overall elevation drop. A strong tailwind also contributed to the fast times in 2011.

Most recently, Hall finished 13th at the Suja Rock N’ Roll San Diego Half-Marathon in 62:53. The 31-year-old has not announced any plans for a fall marathon.

Rock 'n' Roll Philly boasts stacked field

September, 3, 2014
Dathan RitzenheinAP Photo/Charlie RiedelDathan Ritzenhein has run for the U.S. on the world stage and will take on the world's best in Philly.
Race organizers for the 2014 Rock N’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon have assembled one of the deepest fields of the fall, including several marathon champions and Olympians.

“Philadelphia is one of the most famous half-marathons in the U.S. and we have a world-class field to match a world-class event,” Elite athlete coordinator Matthew Turnbull said.

Dathan Ritzenhein headlines the American field. The three-time Olympian makes a return to the roads after an injury forced him to withdraw from April’s Boston Marathon. Ritzenhein did not race on the track this summer, and in Philadelphia he will be challenged by 2014 Boston Marathon surprise Jeffrey Eggleston.

Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai will also use this race as a tuneup with his sights are set on a three-peat in the New York City Marathon in November.

Kara Goucher, also returning from injury, leads the field of American women. This will be her first long-distance race since leaving her Nike training group and inking a deal with Oiselle and Sketchers. Goucher's toughest challenger will Deena Kastor, the fastest American woman ever over 13.1 miles, who is looking to extend her road-racing career.

Here’s a look at the field by the numbers:

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I'm A Competitor: Jimmie Johnson

May, 20, 2014
Jimmie JohnsonKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesJimmie Johnson often trades his helmet and fire suit for running shoes and goggles.
California-born six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson has always been competitive. From swimming and BMX bike racing as a kid to racing cars, running and competing in triathlons as an adult, the 38-year-old resident of Charlotte, N.C., is in it to win it.

When he’s not driving his No. 48 Lowe’s Racing car around the track, Johnson spends time with his family, does youth-based philanthropic work for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, exercises and encourages others to get fit through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Wellness Challenge. In February, he ran the Daytona Beach Half Marathon in 1:28:16, good enough for a third-place finish in the 35-59 age group.

How does running contribute to your driving?

My job is far more physical than most give us credit for. Having cardiovascular fitness is important. Running has been the cornerstone of my training for a long time—it’s easy to do when I travel. With NASCAR racing, the cars have become so tough that the drivers are the weak link. Fitness has become important and most drivers are training pretty hard.

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Kastor sets two masters records in Dallas

March, 24, 2014
Deena KastorPeter Larsen/Getty ImagesDeena Kastor won the Rock 'n' Roll Dallas Half marathon by a wide margin.

Deena Kastor took the streets of Dallas by storm Sunday morning. Amid chilly and windy conditions, the 41-year-old three-time Olympian and American marathon record-holder turned in the fifth-fastest half-marathon time by a U.S. runner in 2014 with a new course record at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon.

Kastor, the Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon in 2004, covered the 13.1-mile course in 1:11:57. Along the way, she also set new U.S. masters records for 10 miles (55:13) and 20K (1:08:18). She narrowly missed the U.S. masters half-marathon record (1:11:50) set by Colleen De Reuck set in 2006.

Julius Kiptoo, a 36-year-old Kenyan who lives in Ohio, took first place in the men’s half marathon, crossing the finish line in 1:06:02, just two seconds faster than second-place finisher and former Oklahoma State All-American Colby Lowe.

The race which had more than 13,000 participants, starting downtown near City Hall and finished at Fair Park. After touring some of Dallas’ most notable hot spots and neighborhoods, runners gathered to celebrate the day with the band American Authors headlining performance at the finish line festival concert in Fair Park.

Kastor, a 25time U.S. champion, ran the entire race with no other contenders in sight. The second woman to cross the finish line was Dallas native D’Ann Mineo (1:18:28), followed by Emily Field (1:18:49), also from Dallas.

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Five questions with Deena Kastor

March, 21, 2014
Deena KastorElsa/Getty ImagesDeena Kastor hopes to continue her consistent success now that she's a masters runner.
Deena Kastor turned 41 just last month and will be competing in only her third half-marathon as a masters runner this weekend at the Rock 'n' Roll Dallas Half Marathon.

A 25-time U.S. champion and U.S. record holder for the marathon, Kastor made U.S. half marathon history in 2005 in Philadelphia when she shattered Joan Benoit Samuelson’s long-standing American record by 41 seconds with a time of 1:07:53. She bettered that time with a 1:07:34 in Berlin in 2006, and the American record has stood ever since.

If Kastor can run between a 5:25 and 5:30 pace per mile in Dallas she has a great chance to break as many as four American Masters records, and race organizers have set up a timing plan to capture her splits at all four distances — 15K (9.3 miles), 10 Miles, 20K (12.4 miles), and the full half marathon.

You were forced to withdraw from the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon last month with the flu. How is your training going? How much did being sick early this month set back your training?

Being sick set me back in training, but I am back to training even better than prior to Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans. I was so excited to race and was extremely let down by the timing of the flu. I am excited to race Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas as it will be my first race back since I ran the world championships marathon last summer. That race nearly sent me into retirement, but my desire to compete has come back and I am excited to race one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series’ premiere races in Texas.

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The dos-and-dont's of destination running

November, 27, 2013
Now is the time runners are beginning to plan their calendars for 2014, and so-called "destination races" get plenty of consideration. Globetrotting to a race seems so romantic. Just imagine the Facebook posts, and the possibilities.

I did, and days later I was toeing the line at a boutique half-marathon, the Llao Llao 21K in Bariloche, Argentina, a small adventure-oriented city in the foothills of the Southern Andes. Llao Llao is part of the four-race National Parks Marathon Series. For more information, go to www.runargentina.com.

Known for its chocolate industry, Bariloche is surrounded by the kinds of places travel writers keep to themselves. It's smack-dab in the middle Patagonia, where broad rivers lumber by snow-capped pyramids, spilling into ocean-like lakes, and December means the start of summer, not winter. An escape from winter alone could justify the trip.

The Llao Llao hotel, which is the race's base of operations and start/finish, couild also make it worth the trip. A "World’s Best" resort and spa, it has the riddle of refinement solved: it's five-star and unpretentious. Running shoes are welcome and Vibram-soled trekkers a norm.

And it's all about the environment. The Llao Llao occupies a peninsula hilltop in Nahuel Huapi National Park, which is comprised of nearly two million acres of calving glaciers, "monkey puzzle" trees, and an alpine trail system (complete with huts, or refugios) that's ripe for running.

Race day was is warm and breezy. Idyllic and spring-like at the 11:00 a.m. start. Local heavies from rival provinces Rio Negro and Chubut front one big wave of runners, and the celebratory mood at the back borders on a dance party. Sleep deprivation adds to the euphoria.

We're off, and a while later the finish-line banner seems to be held taut by some sort of dream. I was a winner that day, because it was the single-best running experience of my life.

However, it takes more than dumb luck and a wad of pesos to guarantee a great destination-race experience. Here's what I learned in Argentina, essential tips for destination runners no matter where they're headed:

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Turkey trots tops among holiday runs

November, 18, 2013
Massive growth in turkey trots has propelled Thanksgiving Day to the top spot as the most popular holiday for road racing, according to Running USA, a nonprofit organization that tracks road racing trends.

Spokesman Ryan Lamppa isn't sure which year Turkey Day moved ahead of July 4 -- he's still running the numbers -- but says Thanksgiving "crushed" Independence Day in runner participation in 2011. That year 248,000 people finished a race on July 4, compared with 676,000 on Thanksgiving.

This is despite the fact that the Peachtree Road Race 10k, the largest race of any distance in the U.S. with 55,000 finishers, takes place on July 4.

"There's just one Peachtree, but Thanksgiving has multiple races with 5-10,000 runners each," says Lamppa. And in 2011, there were 355 races on July Fourth, versus 470 on Thanksgiving.

New Year's is the third-most popular holiday for road racing (81,000 finishers in 2011 for both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day), followed by Labor Day (55,000).

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Disney Half MarathonPreston Mack/Disney The number of finishers in U.S. half-marathons has risen by at least 10 percent every year since 2006.
Half-marathons are the most popular races in the United States, according to the RunningUSA Annual Half-Marathon report.

There were about 1.85 million finishers in half-marathons last year, a record. The figure represented a 14.9 percent increase from 2011, up from 1.61 million.

In 1,136 13.1-mile races, there was a 5.1 percent increase in finishers from 2011 to 2012. The number of finishers in U.S. half-marathons has risen by at least 10 percent every year since 2006.

Other factoids about the race distance: 60 percent of half-marathon finishers in 2012 were women; a record 36 half-marathons had 10,000 or more finishers; and there were more than 30 new half-marathons contested.

-- Competitor.com