Professional Field Finalized for the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

·         Three-Time U.S. Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein Headlines Men’s Field; Previously Announced Ethiopians Meseret Defar and Firehiwot Dado Drop Out of Women’s Race
·         2012 Marks 35th Anniversary of Prestigious Half Marathon, Site of Five World Records, Three American Records and home of the Current Men’s and Women’s U.S. All-Comer’s Records

Philadelphia, PA – September 14, 2012 – Three-Time U.S. Olympian and IAAF World Half-Marathon bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein will lead a field of more than 21,000 entrants at the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday, September 16, 2012.

The event, now in its 35th year and renowned throughout the world, is known for its record performances, having been the scene of five world records, three U.S. marks and numerous age-group records. Last year was a typical example of the quality of the fields. Both the men's and women's winners shattered course records and established new all-comers records for the fastest half-marathon times ever run on U.S. soil.

The former American record holder at 5000m, Ritzenhein’s summer consisted of racing on the track after finishing fourth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January. After bouncing back from that disappointment, he made the U.S. team in the 10,000 meter at the Olympic Trials in June. 

“I’ve concentrated on the track this summer, Now I want to hit the pavement one last time before running in the Chicago Marathon,” said Ritzenhein, who recently finished 13th in the 10,000 meters at the London Olympics. “The course is fast, so maybe I can (go under 60:00). I will give a hard effort. I needed time after London to build up my volume again. I needed to get my mileage up again, to about 100 or 110 miles a week.”

Ritzenhein will face very formidable opposition and should get his most serious challenge from Kenya’s Simon Biwott, who won this year’s Paris Marathon in 2:05:12 and has a half-marathon best of 59:44. Eritrea’s Yared Asmeron, fourth at the 2007 World Championships with a half-marathon best of 60:28, and Scott Bauhs of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., owner of the fastest time by an American this year at 61:30, are also entered.

“I believe Dathan has the talent to challenge anyone,” said Matt Turnbull, manager of the professional athlete fields for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “When he’s injury free, he’s a top runner. The future is great for him.”

Other highly touted competitors are Cutbert Nyasango of Zimbabwe, Shawn Forrest of Australia, Belete Assefa of Ethiopia along with Eritrean Kidane Tadese. Nyasango’s half-marathon best is 60:26 and he recently finished seventh at the Olympic Marathon in London. Forrest, who has run 27:52.10on the track for 10,000m, set his personal best in New York last year running 1:01:25. Assefa won the Crescent City Classic last year over 10k. The 25-year-old Tadese is the younger brother of World Half Marathon Record Holder Zersenay Tadese and won twice on the European Cross Country circuit earlier in the year.

In the women’s race previously announced Olympic 5,000m champion Meseret Defar and 2011 New York City Marathon champion Firehiwot Dado, both of Ethiopia, have been forced out of Sunday’s event due to injury. However the field still features Boston Marathon Champion Sharon Cherop, along with a pair of formidable Ethiopian contenders in Mare Dibabaand Buzunesh Deba.

Last year Cherop won a bronze medal at the World Championship Marathon and also set her personal best in the half marathon finishing second in New Delhi with a time of 67:08. Dibaba is the Ethiopian half-marathon record holder with a time of 1:07:13 and Deba ran a stunning 2:23:31 to win the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon last year. Aligned against the trio of favorites will be Kenyans Jemima Jelegat Sumgong, runner up at the 2012 Boston Marathon, and Lineth Chepkirui, who finished second in Philadelphia in 2010 with a PR of 1:07:47 and won the Barcelona Half Marathon earlier this year.

The race will begin Sunday at 8:00 am on the Ben Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The flat and fast course is extremely picturesque, traversing City Hall, Market Street, Schuylkill River, Falls Bridge and ending back in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval.

About Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia
Proudly, and rightfully so, the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon has become one of the world's most prestigious road races. Known as the Philadelphia Distance Run for 32 years, the historic event enters its third year rebranded as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series on Sunday, September 16, 2012. The 2012 race will feature live bands and fanfare entertaining participants along each mile of the route course, the home of five World Records and three U.S. Marks and the current men’s and women’s U.S. all-comers’ records.

Event weekend kicks off Friday, September 14 with a free two-day Health & Fitness Expo at Philadelphia Convention Center, which is open to the public. The Expo, where all participants pick up their race number, will feature over 100 exhibitors with free samples, the latest in running apparel and a full schedule of interactive clinics. For more information, visit or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.

2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Professional Fields
Race #, Name, Age, Country, Career Highlight
1. Stanley Biwott, 26, Kenya, Winner of 2012 Paris Marathon where he ran 2:05:12.
2. Dathan Ritzenhein, 29, USA, 30time U.S. Olympian, PR of 60:00, 4-time All-American at University of Colorado.
3. Yared Asmeron, 33, Eritrea, 4th at 2007 World Championships, set PR the same year running 1:00:28.
4. Cutbert Nyasango, 29, Zimbabwe, 7th in 2012 Olympic Marathon. PR of 1:00:26
5. Kidane Tadese, 25, Eritrea, Debut Half Marathon. Younger brother or World record holder Zersenay Kidane
6. Belete Assefa, 21, Ethiopia, Represented Ethiopia at the World Juniors & tWorld Cross Country Championships
7. Scott Bauhs, 26, USA, Won the 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.            
8. Abdellah Falil, 36, Morocco, Ran 1:00:43 for his personal best in 2007. Set his marathon PR last year in Korea.
9. Yonas Mebrahtu, 24, Eritrea, Training out of Arizona, has a 2:16:57 best for a marathon.              
10. Shawn Forrest, 29, Australia, Won the 2011 P.F. Chang’s Rock n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon.
11. Eric Chichir, 28, Kenya, PR of 61:53. Won the Miami Beach Half Marathon & Chesapeake Half Marathon this year
12. El Hassan El Habbassi, 28, Morocco, PR of 1:01:13, won the national 10000m title earlier this year in Morocco.    
13. Aleksey Sokolov, 29, Russia, Represented Russia at the 2008 Summer Olympics. PR is 1:03:20
14. Mike Morgan, 32, USA, Represented USA in the marathon at last year’s World Championships.
15. Tyler McCandless, 26, USA, 1:04:59 personal best set at last year’s RnR Philadelphia. Graduate of Penn State.
16. Brendan Martin, 23, USA, All Northeast Region, All Ivy-League and Academic All American at Columbia             
17. Craig Leon, 27, USA, Set his PR here last year running 1:05:05. Running in the Chicago Marathon next month.     
18. Kenneth Foster, 26, USA, 2012 Penn Relays 10k Champ (29:27). U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program          
19. Brian Farrell, 28, Ireland, Irish National Team Member and National road 5k Champion 2010
20. Robert Scribner, 26, USA, Winner of the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon.

F1. Sharon Cherop, 28, Kenya, Winner of the 2012 Boston Marathon
F2. Mare Dibaba, 22, Ethiopian record holder for the half marathon running 1:07:13
F3. Buzunesh Deba, 25, Ethiopia, Winner of both the LA Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathons in 2011.
F4. Lineth Chepkirui, 24, Kenya, Runner up in Philadelphia in 2010 with a PR of 1:07:47.
F5. Jemima Jelegat Sumgong, 27, Kenya, Runner up at the 2012 Boston Marathon.
F6. Kaori Yoshida, 31, Japan, Won two races this year Tanigawa Half Marathon in Tokyo and Gold Coast Marathon
F7.  Susan Partridge, 32, Great Britain, Ran PR earlier this year finishing second in Bath, UK in a time of 1:11:34.
F8. Risper Gesabwa, 23, Kenya, Superb year on the roads this year with victories in Miami & Steamboat Classic
F9. Natalia Sokolova, 30, Russia, Former champion of California International Marathon in Sacramento
F10. Wendy Thomas, 33, USA, Olympic Trials qualifier. Best of 1:12:56 set at Grandma’s Half earlier this year.
F11. Esther Erb, 26, USA, Ran 55:26 for 10 Mile winning the 2012 Philadelphia Broad Street Run.