STANLEY BIWOTT OF KENYA CLAIMS VICTORY AT
THE ROCK 'N' ROLL PHILADELPHIA HALF-MARATHON.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO

Biwott, Cherop Win 35th Running of
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon

BY DAVID BLOCK

PHILADELPHIA, PA--The Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon--13.1 miles--has undergone changes in its 35-year history. Originally christened the Philadelphia Distance Run (PDR) in its inaugural debut in 1978, it was a local race, put on by an area YMCA. Two local people won: Julio Piazza clocked 1:07:35 and Nora Johnson posted 1:24:34. To date, those are the slowest winning times in this race’s history.

“I remember when the race was quiet and unassuming,” said Mary Pat Ezzo of Richboro, PA who has run this race for all 35 years. “Back in 1978, only a few hundred of us competed. Now it’s a zoo,” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, an estimate of 21,000 runners competed at the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon this past September 16. Ezzo finished in 2:12:17. The race’s new name, coupled with the world’s best distance runners competing in it, do not matter to Ezzo. “I just care about keeping my streak going,” she said. She is planning on competing next year.

Rod Dixon, who won the PDR in 1980, 1:03:39; and 1981, 1:02:12, was on hand to observe this year’s race.

When he was an elite runner, his training style differed from some of today’s athletes.

 

 EVENTUAL WINNER SHARON CHEROP (F1), MARE
DIBABA (F2), KARORI YOSHIDA (F6), AND BUZUNESH DEBA (F3)
ON THE COURSE.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
He initially competed in the mile, then the 5K, the 10K, and then the half-marathon. “A lot of guys run marathons too early,” said Dixon. He said that when runners compete in longer races, they should try to run the same fast pace that they do in shorter races. This strategy paid off for Dixon. At age 33, he was already running marathons, yet he could still run the mile under four minutes. “When I increased my distance, I did not lose my speed.”

Stanley Biwott, 26, of Kenya, won the 35th running of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon, 1:00:03, to collect $3,500. Another huge 2012 win for him was winning the Paris Marathon 2:05:12.

At the 5K mark, Biwott and fellow countryman runner-up Paul Lonyangata, 19, (1:00:43) broke away from the pack. As the Kenyan duo led from 5K through eight miles, it looked like they were doing a training run.

Things changed at the eight-mile mark. Their split was 36:32. Biwott surged. “I felt good, I moved,” said Biwott in broken English.

Lonyangata could not keep up because his left hamstring bothered him.

When Biwott hit the 10-mile mark in 45:41, he felt confident about winning. He remained unchallenged for the rest of the race.

“I was a little disappointed,” said Biwott, who earlier this year ran his half-marathon PR, 59:44 when he won the Paris Half Marathon. “I wanted to beat that time.”

Finishing third was 29-year-old Dathan Ritzenhein, 1:00:57.

This past August, Ritzenhein finished 13th overall at the 2012 Olympic 10,000 meters championships, 27:45:89.

 

 MASTERS WINNERS KEVIN CASTILLE (1:05:39) AND
DOROTA GRUCA (1:16:11) ARE ALL SMILES.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO
“I wasn’t sore from the Olympics,” said Ritzenhein. “This race (the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon) is just a tune-up for the Chicago Marathon.”

Ritzenhein said that when he saw Biwott and Lonyangata pull ahead at the 5K mark, he opted to stay behind. His goal was to run the race at a 4:35 to 4:40 mile pace and avoid injuries. “Training for the marathon makes it so hard to respond to those fast miles, and I couldn’t,” said Ritzenhein. Had his ultimate goal for 2012 been the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, he would have tried to stay with Biwott and Lonyangata.

In the women’s field, 28-year-old Sharon Cherop of Kenya won, 1:07:21, to collect $3,500.

This was her second time running this race. In 2007, she finished fourth, 1:10:21.

“This time I was confident about winning,” said Cherop. Another huge 2012 win for her was the Boston Marathon where she posted 2:31:50.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon was her tune-up for the New York City Marathon this November.

Cherop found herself running most of the race unchallenged. Her goal was to beat the course record, 1:07:11, which Kim Smith set in 2011, but she was 10 seconds too slow to collect the course record bonus of $1,000.00.

Finishing second was Mare Dibaba, 22, of Ethiopia, 1:07:44. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Daba finished 23rd in the Marathon, 2:28:48.

 

 HANSON TEAM, FROM LEFT: COACH KEVIN HANSON,
ETHAN SHAW, BRENDAN MARTIN, AND ROBERT SCRIBNER.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO

Results

Men

1. Stanley Biwot 1:00:03, $3,500
2. Paul Lonyangata 1:00:43, $2,000
3. Dathan Ritzenhein 1:00:57, $2,000 (includes U.S. only prize money)
4. El Hassan El Abbass 1:01:15, $1,000
5. Eric Chichir 1:02:31, $750


Masters

1. Kevin Castille 1:05:39, $1,000
2. Philippe Rolly 1:10:18, $500
3. Jimmy Lync .1:11:14, $250


Women

1. Sharon Cherop 1:07:21, $3,500
2. Mare Dibaba 1:07:44, $2,000
3. Jemima Jelegat Sumgon 1:08:39, $1,500
4. Lineth Chepkirui 1:11:16, $1,000
5. Kaori Yoshid 1:12:16, $750


Masters

1. Dorota Gruca 1:16:11, $1,000
2. Lyubov Denisova1 1:18:54, $500