New York - The 2019 NYC Half will feature a star-studded professional athlete field featuring nine Olympians and nine Paralympians leading 25 000 runners from Brooklyn to Manhattan in the first race of the 2019 NYRR Five Borough-Series.
The professional athlete field will be headlined by 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden and U.S. Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo, who will make his half marathon debut, as well as all four defending event champions: Ben True, Buze Diriba, Ernst van Dyk and Manuela Schär.
Also joining them at the starting line on Sunday, March 17 will be reigning New York City Marathon champion Daniel Romanchuk.
The 14th running of the event will take the professional athletes on a 21.1km tour through neighbourhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan and past iconic New York City landmarks, including Grand Army Plaza, the United Nations, Grand Central Terminal, and Times Square.
“We are very excited to welcome all four NYC Half champions back to defend their titles against a world-class line-up of Olympians and Paralympians to lead 25 000 runners through the heart of New York from Prospect Park to Central Park,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of NYRR.
“New York City and running fans are in for a treat as Des, Daniel, and our defending champions lead 25 000 runners on a spectacular park-to-park journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan.”
Women’s Open division
Linden, a two-time Olympian, will use the NYC Half as her final major tune-up race before attempting to defend her Boston Marathon title in April.
Last year, she became the first American to win the women’s open division at the Boston Marathon in 33 years, breaking through after seven top-five finishes in World Marathon Majors races.
She was one of four American women to finish in the top 10 at the New York City Marathon in November, taking sixth place.
Diriba will be back after becoming the second Ethiopian winner in the women’s open division in event history last year when she took the tape in a sprint finish in 1:12:23.
She also won the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park last year in the fourth-fastest time in event history, and lowered her half-marathon personal best to 1:06:50 at the Houston Half Marathon.
“I’m happy to be running the NYC Half for the sixth time,” Linden said.
“Over the years, this race has served as a nice tune-up for my runs at the Boston Marathon, and in 2019 I’ll try to duplicate as much as possible from my 2018 Boston build-up. The Prospect Park to Central Park course suits my type of running, and Boston last year showed me that on any given day, anything is possible. I’m excited about being in the mix on March 17.”
Challenging Linden and Diriba will be Kenya’s world-record holder in the half marathon, Joyciline Jepkosgei, who ran a 1:04:51 to win the 2017 Valencia Half-Marathon in Spain and then finished second in the distance at the 2018 IAAF World Championships.
Her countrywoman, Mary Wacera, is a two-time World Championships Half-Marathon medalist, and will be running the NYC Half in preparation for her marathon debut in Boston.
Rounding out the Kenyan trio will be veteran Edna Kiplagat, who has won the New York City, Boston and London marathons in addition to two world championship marathon titles.
In addition to Linden, the Americans will be represented by two-time New York City Marathon top-10 finisher Allie Kieffer, USATF champion and Pan American Games medalist Kellyn Taylor, 2018 Boston Marathon runner-up Sarah Sellers, and 2018 USATF Marathon champion Emma Bates.
Men’s Open division
Chelimo will make his half-marathon debut in the same city where he won the USATF 5K Championships last November in a course-record time.
In 2016, Chelimo became the first U.S. athlete since 1964 to medal in the 5 000m at the Olympics when he took silver; he followed that up with a 5 000m bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships one year later.
“I’m really excited about this new challenge in my career - my first half marathon - and I’m especially excited to make it happen at the NYC Half next month,” Chelimo said.
“I love the energy I get from running through the city, and I’ve had great experiences running the USATF 5K Championships that finish right there in Central Park. I’ve been doing longer runs than ever in my training this winter, and am ready to show the long distance guys a thing or two on March 17. I have unfinished business on the track, and then I’m looking forward to making a debut in the New York City Marathon in the near future.”
Challenging Chelimo will be True, who in 2018 became the first the first American to win the men’s open division at the NYC Half, covering the new course in 1:02:39. The American 5K record-holder leads a talented cast of American men that includes four-time Olympian and 2007 event runner-up Abdi Abdirahman, 2018 USATF Marathon champion Brogan Austin, and U.S. Olympian and the top American finisher at the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Jared Ward.
Men’s Wheelchair division
In 2018, Romanchuk became the first American and youngest athlete ever to win the men’s wheelchair division at the New York City Marathon at just 20-years-old. He has recorded two consecutive podium finishes at the NYC Half, and last year also won the Chicago Marathon and set world records on the track over 800 and 5 000m.
“I can’t wait to return to New York for the first time since winning the New York City Marathon,” Romanchuk said.
“In 2016, the NYC Half was my first-ever race in New York, and it’s always a challenge. Plus, it's so fun to race through Times Square.”
Romanchuk’s toughest competition will likely come from South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, who has won the NYC Half the last four consecutive years and owns the event record.
Also lining up will be American Josh George, a four-time Paralympian who won the inaugural wheelchair division at the NYC Half in 2014.
Women’s Wheelchair division
Switzerland’s Schär, a three-time Paralympic medalist and six-time European champion, will be racing for her second consecutive NYC Half victory just four months after capturing her second consecutive New York City Marathon victory.
“I‘m looking forward to returning to New York for the NYC Half,” Schär said.
“Last year was a very hard battle with strong athletes, but also tough weather conditions. New York is always a great challenge, and I love that.”
She will face stiff competition from event record-holder, American Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist and five-time New York City Marathon champion whose lone victory in the event came in 2016.
American Susannah Scaroni, who won the race in 2017 and also won the first-ever wheelchair division at the NYRR New York Mini 10K last year, will join them.