Olympian Shalane Flanagan Headlines Women's Field for Central Park Challenge
March 4, 2008
From press release.
Formidable field for Women's Invitational will also feature Olympic hopefuls Jen Rhines, Carrie Tollefson, Amy Rudolph, and Katie McGregor
New York, March 4, 2008--Shalane Flanagan's Olympic campaign will take the American 5000-meter and indoor 3000-meter record-holder through Central Park for the first time in her professional career at the Central Park Challenge on Saturday, March 15, it was announced today by New York Road Runners President and CEO Mary Wittenberg. Olympians Jen Rhines, Carrie Tollefson, and Amy Rudolph and four-time USA champion Katie McGregor were also announced as leading contenders in the inaugural Women's Invitational event, part of the Central Park Challenge, which also features the USA Men's 8K Championship and the NYRR 8000 people's race.
"Shalane is a shining star on the fast track to Beijing," Wittenberg said. "However, this will be no stroll in the park for her as we have assembled a formidable field of the best distance runners from the mile to the marathon to challenge her."
Ten Olympians and 12 current and former USA champions are entered in the men's and women's races, among them previously announced American mile record-holder Alan Webb, Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, and 2005 USA 8K Championship winner Jorge Torres. Two-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman has withdrawn from the race, citing a lack of fitness. Athletes will race the 8K (4.97-mile) distance, with a total prize-money purse of $70,000 on the line, including $10,000 each going to the top male and female finishers.
Flanagan, 26, of Pittsboro, NC, earned a spot on the U.S. team for the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships later this month in Edinburgh, Scotland, with a resounding victory at the USA Cross Country Championships in February. A 2004 Olympian at 5000 meters, Flanagan holds the American records at the 5000 (14:44.80) and the indoor 3000 (8:33.25). She has spent most of the past two months at high altitude (6,500 feet) training in the rugged mountains of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, with two-time New York City Marathon champion German Silva.
"My preparation in Mexico has been geared toward running longer races," Flanagan said. "The 8K distance fits well in my training schedule and allows me to stay focused on my strength-oriented fitness. The altitude, weather, and hospitality in Mexico have allowed us to improve on our aerobic base and lay a great foundation for the upcoming Olympic year. [Training partner] Erin [Donohue] and I are very excited to test our new altitude lungs in New York City."
McGregor, 30, of St. Louis Park, MN, qualified for her sixth consecutive IAAF World Cross Country Championships team this year by virtue of her fourth-place finish at the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego. She made her marathon debut in 2006 at the ING New York City Marathon, finishing ninth. McGregor is expected to contend for an Olympic berth at 10,000 meters.
Flanagan and McGregor will be challenged by a trio of American Olympians in Rhines, Tollefson, and Rudolph. Rhines, 33, of Mammoth Lakes, CA, will represent the United States in the 3000 meters at the IAAF World Indoor Championships this weekend in Valencia, Spain. The versatile Rhines, who qualified for the 2000 Olympic Games in the 10,000 and competed at the marathon distance in 2004, is expected to focus on the 5000 meters at this summer's U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field.
Tollefson, 31, of Minneapolis, MN, was the only U.S. contender in the 1500 meters at the 2004 Olympic Games. In 2006, she won the USA Cross Country Championships in Van Cortlandt Park and was fourth in the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile. Tollefson was a standout at Villanova, winning five NCAA titles from 1997 to 1999.
Rudolph, 34, of Providence, RI, was an Olympian in 1996 and 2000 at 5000 meters. She is a six-time U.S. national champion.
Olympic hopefuls Carmen Douma-Hussar, Erin Donohue, Liliya Shobukhova, and Lisa Galaviz were also announced. Douma-Hussar, 31, of Ardmore, PA, was a Canadian Olympian in 2004. In 2007, she won the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile and set the course record at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. Donohue, 24, of Chapel Hill, NC, was a semifinalist in the 1500 meters at the 2007 IAAF World Championships. Russia's Shobukhova, 30, is the former world record-holder in the indoor 3000 meters and is currently the second-fastest performer of all-time. She won a silver medal in the 3000 meters at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Galaviz, 28, of Gilbert, AZ, set the American record (9:28.75) in the steeplechase in 2007 at the KBC Night of Athletics in Belgium and won the 2006 USA steeplechase title.
A $10,000 bonus will be awarded to any winner who breaks the existing American 8K record of 22:04 for the men (Alberto Salazar, 1981) or 24:36 for the women (Deena Kastor, 2005).
Just the Facts: The Ladies
Mammoth Lakes, CA
St. Louis Park, MN
2004: 5000 meters
2000: 10,000 meters
U.S. National Titles
Six 2007: 5K, 5000 meters, indoor 3000 meters 2005: 5000 meters, 4K cross country 2004: 4K cross country
Three 2005: 15K 2002: 10,000 meters 1998: 15K
Four 2007: 25K 2006: 10K 2005: 10K, 10,000 meters
New York Road Runners
New York Road Runners is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2008. NYRR is dedicated to promoting the sport of distance running, enhancing health and fitness for all, and responding to community needs. Our road races and other fitness programs draw upwards of 300,000 runners annually, and together with our magazine and website support and promote professional and recreational running. A staff of more than 100, assisted by thousands of volunteers, stages the ING New York City Marathon, as well as a road race nearly every weekend plus many track and cross country events. NYRR's home base in New York, and its lifelong identification with Central Park, have given many of its events iconic status, attracting the world's top professional runners. Our youth programs provide running to 30,000 schoolchildren in New York City and around the country who would otherwise have few or no fitness opportunities. For more information visit www.nyrr.org.