Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Viktor Rothlin, Christelle Daunay Lead Europeans in NYCM

As featured in the issue of Running Times Magazine

Swiss Olympian, national marathon record-holder, and 2010 European Champion Viktor Röthlin and French marathon record-holder and ING New York City Marathon 2009 third-place finisher Christelle Daunay will lead a strong contingent of European contenders into the ING New York City Marathon 2010 on Sunday, November 7, it was announced today by New York Road Runners president and CEO and race director Mary Wittenberg.

Ana Dulce Félix of Portugal and Italian Olympians Bruna Genovese and Rosaria Console were also announced, joining a women’s field that already features Olympians Shalane Flanagan of the United States, Mara Yamauchi of Great Britain, Kim Smith of New Zealand, and reigning World-Half Marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya.

The last European woman’s champion in New York was two-time winner Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia in 2005–’06.

Röthlin will be up against world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, defending champion Meb Keflezighi and World Championships Half-Marathon bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein of the United States, and 2009 World Championships Marathon gold medalist Abel Kirui of Kenya as he bids to become the first men’s champion from Europe since Giacomo Leone of Italy in 1996.

“The Europeans are poised to make a major statement about their legitimacy as a marathon power,” said Wittenberg. “Viktor and Christelle are seasoned competitors at the top of their games, and Ana is a newcomer to the marathon with loads of promise. And the Italians always seem to do something special here, so keep an eye on Rosaria and Bruna.”

Röthlin, 35, hopes to build on his earlier success this year after winning the European Athletics Championships marathon in August, which was his first major race since his sixth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon. He was out for the entire 2009 season, recuperating from a pulmonary embolism and fluid buildup in his chest after contracting thrombosis during a plane flight from Africa. The three-time Olympian took the marathon bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, and he won the 2008 Tokyo Marathon, setting the current Swiss marathon record of 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 23 seconds. He finished seventh in his last appearance in New York, in 2005.

“I like New York because it is a race like the European Championships, World Championships, and Olympics with no pacemakers; you race each other and not against time,” said Röthlin. “I have always been strong in the last part of a race, and you need to be very tough in Central Park. In the past, some bad stories and good stories have been written in Central Park. I hope to write a good one.”

Daunay, 35, was third in New York last year in 2:29:16 and finished 20th at the Beijing Olympic Marathon. She lowered her own French national marathon record to 2:24:22 with a runner-up showing at the Paris Marathon this April.

Félix, 27, is one of the top distance runners from Portugal and will make her marathon debut in New York City. After a strong 2009 season, which included victories at the Great Ireland Run (10K) and the Göteborgsvarvet Half-Marathon, Félix has continued her success into 2010, including a runner-up finish at the Great North Run last week.

Genovese, 34, finished 10th at the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon and was 17th in Beijing. She set her personal best in 2006 at the Boston Marathon, when she ran 2:25:28 to finish fourth.

Console, 30, competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she finished 16th in the marathon. She set her marathon personal best in 2009 at the real,- Berlin Marathon, where she finished fourth in 2:26:45. Console won her first marathon, the 2001 Padua Marathon.