Among the top athletes joining all three members of the 2012 U.S. Men’s Olympic marathon team—Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, and Abdi Abdirahman—to round out the field of the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K on May 12 will be Leonard Korir of Kenya, Daniele Meucci of Italy, Ben St. Lawrence of Australia, Jon Rankin of the Cayman Islands, and American Bobby Curtis.
The additions make for a lineup that runs the gamut from rookie to rising star to Olympic medalist, with athletes competing for a first-place prize of $25,000—the largest for any 10K in the world.
Making his professional debut will be Korir, a two-time NCAA champion at Iona College in nearby Westchester County. An eight-time All-American, the 25-year-old Korir won the 2011 NCAA indoor title at 5000 meters to become the first national champion in Iona’s history, then followed it up with the outdoor title at 10,000 meters.
Meucci, 26, a 2008 Olympian, was the 2010 European Championships bronze medalist at 10,000 meters. Off to a great start to 2012, he posted two personal bests in the month of April alone: 28:49 to take third place at the Great Ireland Run 10K and 27:32.86 for 10,000 meters on the track last weekend to finish fourth at the Payton Jordan Stanford Invitational.
St. Lawrence, 30, who is already named to the 2012 Olympic team for his native Australia, is the national record-holder at 10,000 meters and a four-time national champion at the distance. He ran his 10K personal best of 28:37 in this race in 2010.
As a dual citizen, Rankin began competing for the Cayman Islands in 2010 and has since broken four national records, from 800 meters to 5000 meters. He finished sixth at 1500 meters in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2008. The 30-year-old has a special reason for competing in the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K: Four years ago, he was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS, the same rare and incurable kidney disease that struck former NBA star Alonzo Mourning.
Curtis, 27, of Ardmore, PA, was the top American finisher in this race last year, in a personal best 29:09, before making his marathon debut in the 2011 ING New York City Marathon, where he finished 15th in 2:16:44. The 2008 NCAA champion at 5000 meters out of Villanova University, Curtis placed fourth at 10,000 meters in the USA Outdoor Championships in 2011.
Also set to compete are a pair of top athletes with local ties and a young, up-and-coming Kenyan. Ethiopian Bado Worku Merdessa, who runs for the West Side Runners in New York City, is a two-time NYRR Fred Lebow Runner of the Year; Harbert Okuti, who lives in New Paltz, NY, is Uganda’s 5K record-holder; and Philip Langat of Kenya, who just turned 22, has a 10K personal best of 27:28—the fastest in the field.
The eighth annual UAE Healthy Kidney 10K is sponsored by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates and will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, on Central Park’s West Drive near 62nd Street. For further information, click here.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg