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NYC Half Features Local Talent

Published by
ArmoryTrack.com   Mar 17th 2014, 3:15pm

NYC Half Features Local Talent

By Elliott Denman

It's perfectly obvious to New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg, and anyone else who has ever studied the logistics of any of the many top-quality road races that dot theannual Metropolitan area schedule, that a whole lot of the runners close to the front of the pack invariably have close ties to local turf.

"The five boroughs and the surrounding region are filled with unbelievable talent, and they all have a passion for running that matches their love for the area," Wittenberg has said. "From Central Park to the streets of Staten Island, our local runners are the pride of NYRR."

Before the 20,000-runner field for the ninth NYC Half Marathon got rolling at 7:30 Sunday morning, she said "we're thrilled to see them (the locals) compete with the best at home in the NYC Half."

And that's exactly what happened.

The locals - defined as those who live here now, attended schools here, or represent locally-based clubs - were high up on the lists.

First the men: Trailing only global elites Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya (1:00:50), Mo Farah of Great Britain (1:01:07), Stephen Sambu of Kenya (1:01:08) and Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico (1:01:46), right there in fifth place in 1:01:47 was Aschalew Neguse, listed as an Ethiopian resident of New York City, and representing AODF club, acronymed for Agony O-De Feet.

Hard on Neguse's heels, sixth in 1:02:04, was another New York-based Ethiopian, Tabor Nebsi Mengistu, representing WSX, or West Side Express.

The Half Marathon Media Guide lists 30 leading men's entrants - presumably all given traditional NYRR celebrity treatment. But - for whatever reason - you won't see the names Neguse or Nebsi Mengistu's names on the list. 

Meb Keflezighi, of course, is one of the great names in American distance running history - a silver medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympic marathon, winner of the 2009 New York City Marathon, and fourth-place finisher of in the 2012 London Olympic marathon.

Now 38 and representing the New York Athletic Club, the UCLA graduate still runs with the best and his 10th-place 1:02:53 proved there's plenty of hope for Meb to climb additionalsummits of the sport.  

Next to the official National Team of Ethiopia, West Side Express could surely field a team that could give those Addis Ababa natives a serious challenge. In addition to Nebsi Mengistu, the WSX lineup included NYC-based Ethiopians Diriba Degefa Yigezu (17th in 1:03:34), Tesfaye Girma (22nd in 1:04:20), Tesfaye Assefa Dube (23rd in 1:04:49), Kumsa Adugna Megeresa (25th in 1:05:22) and Ayele Megersa Feisa (26th in 1:05:27.)

Peter Bartlett of New York punched in at 1:07:00, good for 29th place. Thomas Young of Old Lyme, 43rd in 1:08:48, led the Connecticut contingent. New Brunswick resident Matt Dahl, 84th in 1:13:04, was the first New Jerseyan.

Now the ladies: As Texas Tech alumna Sally Kipyego of Kenya (and these days, Eugene, Oregon) was lowering the women's course record to 1:08:31, Bronx-based Buzunesh Deba, also of Ethiopia and the 2013 New York City Marathon runner-up, was taking the second spot in 1:08:59.

Hard on Deba's heels at 1:09:04 was USA 5000-meter Olympian Molly Huddle, the Elmira, N.Y. High School and Notre Dame alumna.

Just 32 seconds behind Huddle as the fourth women's finisher - and early race leader - was Lisa Stublic, the Columbia University grad and NYAC member now competing for Croatia.

Taking 11th in 1:12:19 was WSX member Askale Merachi of Jackson Heights, Queens.

NYAC's Sarah Cummings of New York ran 13th in 1:14:10. First New Jersey woman to finish was Lambertville resident and NYAC member Esther Erb, 14th in 1:14:46; ex-Princeton runner Liz Costello of Hoboken and NYAC took 16th in 1:16:02.

Central Park Track Club New Balance's Jane Vongvorachoti, a Woodside, Queens resident who hopes to run internationally for Thailand, clocked 1:16:17 in 17th place.

And after all these leaders, they continued flocking over the finish line at Water and Wall Streets for hours more.

"These local elite athletes are the core of our running community in the New York Metropolitan area," Wittenberg said.

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