Posted by: Joe English | July 27, 2008

Racing: Ndereba & Tola win NYC Half-marathon; Ritzenhein strong in third

NEW YORK — Kenyan running star Catherine Ndereba won the women’s race at the New York City Half-Marathon today, showing her strength coming into the Beijing Olympic marathon next month. Ethiopia’s Tadesse Tola took the men’s title ahead of a stellar elite field, while Eugene’s Dathan Ritzenhein finished a strong third.

Ritzenhein, 25, was third in 1:01:38 in his final race before Beijing. He will be a strong contender in next month’s Olympic Marathon as will his teammate Ryan Hall who did not run in today’s NYC half-marathn.

“I came in really feeling strong the last few miles, and that is a good sign for me leading into Beijing,” Ritzenhein told the AFP news service. “This was a great last test for the Olympics, perfect for me. I’m really thrilled with this.”

Just ahead of Ritzenhein, Ethipoia’s Tadessa Tola, 20, outdueled Kenya’s Patrick Makau, 23, to deliver the Kenyan’s first defeat in four half-marathons this year.

“This tells me I’m in a good place for future,” Tola said. “This was the biggest victory in my career.”

Tola and Makau battled for the last eight miles before the younger runner won in 1:00:58, a second better than Makau.

“I was confident in my own finishing speed,” Tola said.

Catherine Ndereba won the women’s race in 1:1:19 with Mexico’s Madai Perez, 28, second, juat seven seconds back. Japan’s Yuri Kano, 29, was third, 12 seconds off the winning pace. Ndereba joined leaders Kano and Perez with four miles to go and surged ahead late.

“After 12 miles I was pushing hard, trying to push it a little harder,” Ndereba told AFP. “I surprised myself.”

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