Posted by: Joe English | January 8, 2008

P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon announces professional field

PHOENIX, (Jan. 8, 2008) – The fifth annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon on Sunday, January 13, 2008 will host an Ethiopian dominated professional field and shine the spotlight on 39 American women from 19 states who are “Running Down a Dream” as they race for a position at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon.

Without Terefe Yae, the 2007 men’s champion, in this year’s field, Ethiopian Dejene Yirdawe, 29, who finished third at the 2007 Dublin Marathon in a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes, 8 seconds, represents the fastest time in this year’s Arizona field.

Haron Toroitich of Kenya set the men’s course record of 2:10:33 at the inaugural P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in 2004. However, the absence of Kenyan representation will be sadly noticed in 2008 after protests and ethnically charged riots swept across the East African nation in late December. As a result, many of the Kenyan athletes have had to restricted their travel and suspend their training in the wake of the violent unrest.

“We send our hopes for a quick cessation to the violence and our prayers for the safety of all our friends and their families in Kenya,” said Tracy Sundlun, Executive Vice President for Elite Racing. “All our Elite Racing events have been blessed over the years to have great Kenyan athletes on our start lines. They are not only fantastic runners, but very kind and friendly people. We will run on Sunday with them in our hearts.”

Joining the men from their training grounds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is 25-year-old women’s champion Adanech Zekiros who returns to defend her 2007 title against second place finisher Salomie Getnet, 20. Zekiros ran uncontested across the finish line in 2:31:43, nearly missing the course record of 2:31:33 set by Shitaye Gemechu in 2004.

Zekiros and Getnet will push the pace against a large field of American women focused on qualifying for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon, scheduled for Boston on Sunday April 20, the day before the annual Boston Marathon. As part of this special invitational program at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon titled Running Down a Dream, 39 athletes hope to run under the U.S. Olympic Trials “B” standard time of 2:47:00 to secure a position in Boston.

Some of the American women selected to this year’s field include Linda Somers Smith, 46, of Arroyo Grande, California, a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Marathon team, and 1994 U.S. national marathon champion. Linda is gunning for a fifth appearance in the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Joining Linda will be 38 year-old Becky Sondag of Casper, Wyoming who missed the Olympic Trials “B” standard by just 25 seconds last fall when she finished 12th at the Philadelphia Marathon. In 2000 Becky missed qualifying by only four seconds.

Representing the new generation will be Arizona’s Sally Meyerhoff, 24, from Tempe. This two-time NCAA All-American at Duke University now coaches cross country and is a substitute teacher at her high school alma mater, Mountain Pointe High School. Sally will be making her marathon debut in the Valley of the Sun. However, she ran 1:16:39 at the 2007 AFC Half Marathon in San Diego, good for 5th place, and a time that bodes well for her Olympic Trials chances.

“This is likely the last opportunity for these women to qualify for the Trials, said Sundlun. “The P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon course has the potential to be very fast and the weather should be ideal, and we hope it helps many of these athletes get to Boston in April.”

Elite Racing, the orgnization that produces the Rock N Roll Marathon series, provided the information below about the elite athletes. The times listed are the athlete’s personal bests.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News (

Men’s Elite Field
1. Dejene Yirdawe, 29, Ethiopia, 2:11:08, 3rd 2007 Dublin Marathon, 1st 2007 Nedbank 21k, 4th 2006 Mariolles 20k
2. Mohammed Awol, 29, Ethiopia, 2:17:00, 1st 2007 Hartford Marathon, 2nd 2005 Bolder Boulder
3. Nikolay Kerimov, 40, Russia, 2:11:46, 2nd 2007 Krakov Marathon (Poland), 3rd 2006 European Police Marathon Championship
4. Pavel Andreev, 37, Russia, 1st 2007 Russian Half Marathon Championships, 1st 2005 Dallas White Rock Marathon
5. Evegeni Bozhko, 32, Ukraine, 2:13:13, 2nd 2006 Dallas Marathon, 1st 2005 Ukraine Half Marathon Championships
6. Mike Aish, 30, New Zealand, 2:13:00, 8th 2002 Commonwealth Games 10,000m, 7th 2006 Commonwealth Games 10,000m
7. Krzysztof Baldyga, 36, Poland, 2:16:21, 4x Polish Champion (10k, Half Marathon, 2 XC)
8. Tekeste Kebede, 27, Ethiopia, 2:11:48, 3rd 2004 & 5th ‘05 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon San Diego, 4th 2005 San Blas Half Marathon
9. Halefom Abebe, 25, Ethiopia, 2:12:52, 1st 2006 Pakistan Marathon, 8th 2007 Dubai Marathon
10. Abrha Mulu, NA, Ethiopia, NA, 2nd 2007 Addis Ababa Marathon
11. Desalegn Biru, NA, Ethiopia, 2:12:00, 2nd 2004 Prague Marathon
12. Abebe Yimer, 25, Etiopía, 2:13:52, 2nd 2006 Freescale Austin Marathon
13. Chokri Dhaouadi, 35, Tunesia, 2:16:20 2nd 05 Union Tribune Race For Literacy 8k
14. Assefa Mezgebu, 30, Etiopía, 2:15:47, NA

Women’s Elite Field
1. Irina Pudovkina, 25, Romania, 2:36:14, 1st 2007 Russian Marathon Championships, 3rd 2007 Country Music Marathon
2. Salomie Getnet, 20, Ethiopia, 2:34:43, 2nd 2007 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, 4th 2006 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon
3. Adanech Zekiros, 25, Ethiopia, 2:27:38, 1st 2007 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona, 1st 2005 Reims Marathon
4. Asnakech Mengistu, NA, Ethiopia, NA, 5th 2007 Nagano Marathon, 3rd 2006 Madrid Half Marathon
5. Kristen Henehan, 28, Silver Spring, MD, 2:51:09, 1996 High School XC Champion, College All Amercian 3000m, 1st 2007 Marine Corp Marathon
6. Lisa Thomas, 32, Alexandria, VA, 2:51:40, 2nd 2007 Marine Corp Marathon, 35th 2005 Hawaii Ironman World Championships
7. Alicia Pease, 24, Silver Spring, MD, 2:56:56, 6th 2007 Marine Corp Marathon
8. Kelly Devine, 23, Arlington, VA, 2:55:29, 35th 2006 NYC Marathon, 2nd 2007 Tampa Marathon
9. Trish Steidl, 30, Shoreline,WA, 2:48:17, 1st 2006 Seafair Marathon, 1st 2006 Seattle Marathon
10. Linda Somers Smith, 46, Arroyo Grande, CA, 2:30:06, 1996 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team, 1994 National Marathon Champion
11. Heather McWhirtier, 29, Colorado Springs, CO, 2:54:00, 4th 2007 Pikes Peak Marathon, 9th 2002 Honolulu Marathon
12. Sally Meyerhoff, 24, Tempe, AZ, NA, 2x NCAA DI T & F All American, 5th 2007 AFC Half Marathon
13. Shaluinn Fullove, 30, Palo Alto, CA, 2:51:06, 3rd 2007 San Francisco Half Marathon
14. Rachel Rich, NA, NA, 2:47:56, 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Women’s Marathon Qualifier
15. Michele Suszek, 25, Aurora, CO, 2:55:00, 1st 2006 New Mexico Marathon, 8th 2007 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona
16. Aimee Phillippi-Taylor, 29, Spring Grove, PA, 2:53:59, 4th 2005 Richmond Marathon
17. Susan Loken, 43, Phoenix, AZ, 2:41:31, 1st 2005, 2006 & 2007 More Marathon, 3x USA Women’s Masters Champion
18. Karla Sokolovic, 36, Phoenix, AZ, 2:53:00, 10th 2006 St. George Marathon, 1st 2006 Fontana Days Run Half Marathon
19. Christine Clifton, 35, Long Branch, NJ, 2:32:45, 1st 2003 US 25k Championships, 2nd 2003 U.S. Half Marathon Championships
20. Ashley Anklam, 22, Minneapolis, MN, 2:58:00, 1st 2007 Gopher to Badger Half Marathon, 13th 2007 Twin Cities Marathon
21. Allison Kerr, 31, Vacaville, CA, 2:52:00, 1st 2007 Humboldt Redwoods Half Marathon, 1st 2007 Clarksburg Country Run 30k
22. Sara Gigliotti, 33, San Francisco, CA, 2:56:19
23. Michaela Thompson, 28, Greenwich, RI, 2:53:34, 1st 2007 Sugarloaf Marathon
24. Christine Glockenmeier, 40, Basking Ridge, NJ, 2:47:52, 1st 2006 Long Island Marathon, 16th 2005 Boston Marathon
25. Melinda Courage, 33, West Des Moines, IA, 2:48:10, 1st 2007 Dam to Dam 5k, 9th 2007 Grandma’s Marathon, 2nd 2006 IMT Des Moines Marathon
26. Jessica Langford, 36, Rockford, IL, 2:51:33, 1st 2004 Nike Women’s Marathon, 1st 2006 & ‘07 10 mile USATF Road Championship
27. Mary Coordt, 37, Elk Grove, CA, 2:48:00, 2nd 2007 Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, 1st 1997 & ‘05 Napa Valley Marathon, 2nd 2006 Monterey Bay Half Marathon
28. Jennifer Hanley-Pinto, 30, Jacksonville, FL, 2:58:18, 2nd 2005 Jacksonville Marathon, 1st 2006 U.S. Half Marathon
29. Laura Stanley, 23, Durham, NC, Debut, 6th 2007 Shamrock Sportsfest Half Marathon, 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor 5K Champion
30. Kathryn Kasischke, San Diego, CA, 2:47:36, 3rd 2007 Camp Pendelton Duathlon, 3rd 2007 Carlsbad Half Marathon, 2000 & ‘04 Olympic Trials
31. Laura Turner, 26, Tacoma, WA, 8x All American XC, Indoor & Outdoor Track at Brigham Young University
32. Kara Haas, Chelmsford, MA, 2:55:22, Saint Anselm Collage Athletic Hall of Fame, 92 DII Collegiate XC All American
33. Flora Lee, 28, Emeryville, CA, 2:59:36, 1st 2007 Run Wild 10k, 7th 2007 Nike Women’s Half Marathon
34. Abi Watras,NA, Madison, WI, 2:58, 1st 2006 Big Lake Half Marathon
35. Becky Sondag, 38, Casper, WY, 2:47:25, 11th 2007 Philadelphia Marathon
36. Joyce Bourassa, 39, Lakeville, MN, 2:50:39, 2007 & ‘06 Minnesota Runner of the Year
37. Emily Bates, San Francisco, CA, N/A, 2:49:00, 4th 2007 Hobble Creek Half Marathon, 1st 2007 Big Lake Half Marathon
38. Dee Giles, 29, Austin, TX, 3:09, 3rd 2007 Austin Marathon, 1st 2007 Southwest Key “Go For The Gold” 10k
39. Caroline Szuch, 35, Evergreen, CO, 3:08, 2nd 2005 Mohican 52 Miler, 3rd 2005 Rucky Chucky Roundabout 50k
40. Betsey Keever, 33, San Francisco, CA, 2:47:39, 2nd 2007 San Francisco Half Marathon, 1st 2007 John Mathis Invitational 5000m
41. Amy Farell, 30, Saranac, NY, 2:47:56, 2nd 2001 & 3rd 2002 Eagleman Triathlon, 5th 2002 Lake Placid Ironman
42. Kimberly Hager, The Woodlands, TX, 37, 2:47:30, 1st 2007 Koala Center Luke’s Houston Half Marathon, 2nd 2005 Buffalo Springs Half Ironman
43. Lindsay Goulet, 29, Arlington, VA, 2:51:16, 16th 2007 Philadelphia Marathon


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