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(14-May) -- Sending a strong signal that top athletes are once again important to their business strategy, Competitor Group Inc. (CGI) announced today that two of the world's best marathon runners, Kenyans Rita Jeptoo and Edna Kiplagat, will face each other at the Suja Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in San Diego on June 1. The race will highlight a rare clash between the reigning Boston (Jeptoo) and London (Kiplagat) Marathon champions.
"Never in the history of running in San Diego has there been such a titanic clash of current major champions--men or women--and this race certainly continues the rich tradition of world class running at the original Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series event," said Tracy Sundlun, CGI senior vice-president and co-founder of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series. "The women's elite field reflects our continued commitment to showcasing the world's top professional runners in premier races."
According to the respected statistics service, Tilastopaja Oy, Jeptoo and Kiplagat have never faced each other in either a half-marathon or a marathon. Jeptoo has a blazing fast personal best of 1:06:27 and Kiplagat has run 1:07:41. Jeptoo has won the Boston Marathon three times (2006, 2013 and 2014), was a bronze medalist at the 2006 IAAF World Road Running Championships, and won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2013. Kiplagat has won the IAAF world marathon title twice (2011 and 2013), and won the marathons in Los Angeles (2010), New York (2010) and London (2014). She was also second at London three times (2011, 2012, 2013).
Moreover, Kiplagat is the reigning champion of the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half.
"I'm very happy to be coming back to San Diego to defend my title," Kiplagat proclaimed through a statement. "Last year's race was the perfect tune-up for me before I went to the World Championships in Moscow. This year I will be arriving fresh from my London Marathon win and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
While Kiplagat has previously run 10 CGI events, this will be Jeptoo's first.
"I'm excited to be part of the Suja Rock 'n' Roll San Diego event this year," Jeptoo said through a media release. "After my race in Boston it's a great way for me to focus and get back into my training. Racing Edna is always tough. She won here last year and will be hoping to beat me before we take each other on for the World Marathon Majors title later in the year."
Last September, just prior to their half-marathon in Philadelphia, CGI suspended the bulk of their elite athletes program, and dismissed their elite athletes coordinator, Matt Turnbull. But under new CEO David Abeles, the elite athletes program has been restored, at least for their highest-profile events (Turnbull has been brought back). Their investment in the front-end of the sport was evident at the Carlsbad 5000 last March which featured global medalists Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia; Bernard Lagat of Tucson, Ariz.; and Brenda Martinez, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Other women expected to compete in San Diego include Ethiopians Berhane Dibaba and Amane Gobena, and Italian Nadia Ejafini. The women's event record is 1:08:37 by New Zealand's Kim Smith in 2012.
“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