Olympic, Paralympic medalists headline United Airlines NYC Half pro field

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Olympic, Paralympic medalists headline United Airlines NYC Half
U.S. Olympic medalists lead the NYC Half open division, with two U.S. Paralympic medalists aiming to defend their titles in wheelchair division.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The 2022 United Airlines NYC Half on March 20 will feature the best professional athlete field in event history, with 24 Olympians, eight Paralympians, and six open division athletes who hold half marathon national records in their respective countries.

The open division will include U.S. Olympic medalists Galen Rupp and Molly Seidel, along with American half-marathon record holder Sara Hall, while TCS New York City Marathon champions and U.S. Paralympic medalists Tatyana McFadden and Daniel Romanchuk will aim to defend their titles in the wheelchair division.

Rupp, the American record-holder in the 10,000 meters who won silver in the distance at the London 2012 Olympics and bronze in the marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympics, will race the event for the second time, having previously finished third in 2011 on the event's old course.

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"The United Airlines NYC Half was my debut at the distance and was only the second road race of my professional career," Rupp said. "I can't believe that more than a decade has passed since then. With the World Championships taking place in my home state of Oregon later this summer, I'm looking for the race to be a great stepping stone to everything else I want to achieve in 2022."

Live coverage of the event will be available on Channel 7 in the New York area from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET on race day, with a full livestream available nationally and internationally at 7 a.m. ET on ABC7NY, ESPN3 and NYRR's social media platforms.

The United Airlines NYC Half is one of New York Road Runners' signature races, taking runners from Brooklyn's Prospect Park to Manhattan's Central Park, and passing historic landmarks and diverse neighborhoods and sweeping views of the city along the way before ending near the iconic TCS New York City Marathon finish line.

"My NYC racing career started with my win at the Fifth Avenue Mile way back in 2006, and along the way I've broken the tape at the Dash to the Finish Line 5K on TCS New York City Marathon weekend and twice won the New York Mini 10K in Central Park," Hall said. "Until now, though, I've never stepped to the line at the United Airlines NYC Half. Setting the American record over that distance last month gives me a ton of confidence as I train for this new challenge."

After being canceled in 2020 and not held in 2021 due to the pandemic, the United Airlines NYC Half will return at full scale this year with an expected field of 25,000 runners - marking the first NYRR race to return to its traditional field size.

All professional athletes in the field will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Men's Open Division

Challenging Rupp will be the 10K world record-holder Rhonex Kipruto from Kenya, and the American 5K record-holder Ben True, who in 2018 became the first American man to win the race in the open division.

Five-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman will make his 10th appearance in the event - his best finish was second place in 2007 - while U.S. Army officer Elkanah Kibet will make his debut after finishing as the top American in fourth place overall at the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon.

Two-time NCAA cross-country champion and reigning U.S. half-marathon champion Conner Mantz will make his New York City road racing debut.

Women's Open Division

Hall, an eight-time national champion and no stranger to New York as the two-time defending champion of the Mastercard New York Mini 10K, will enter the event as the fastest American in the distance, having broken the national half-marathon record in Houston in January with a time of 1:07:15. She did so on the same course where her husband and coach, Ryan Hall, broke the men's record 15 years ago.

Seidel will look to star in her first appearance in the race coming off 2021 that included a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympic marathon and an American course record and a fourth-place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon.

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The deep U.S. women's contingent also includes two-time Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden, 2021 Chicago Marathon runner-up Emma Bates, 2021 TCS New York City Marathon seventh-place finisher Annie Frisbie, two-time Olympian Kim Conley, and reigning U.S. national champions Erika Kemp and Makena Morley.

The Americans will face a stacked group of international women that includes two-time World Championships silver medalist Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia, 2021 European Cross-Country Championships gold medalist Karoline Bjerkeli-Grvdal of Norway, and two-time World Championships gold medalist and former New York, Boston, and London Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat of Kenya.

Men's Wheelchair Division

Romanchuk, a two-time Paralympic medalist and two-time TCS New York City Marathon winner, will look to defend his title in the event after winning in 2019 in 51:35. In 2018, Romanchuk became the first American and youngest athlete ever to win the men's wheelchair division at the TCS New York City Marathon, and repeated as champion in 2019. Last year, he won his first set of Paralympic medals, taking 400-meter gold by one-hundredth of a second and then winning bronze in the marathon.

A trio of University of Illinois freshmen - Evan Correll, Philip Croft, and Jason Robinson - will line up alongside Romanchuk, as all three make their half marathon debuts.

Women's Wheelchair Division

McFadden will headline the women's wheelchair division as an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador, a six-time Paralympian, 20-time Paralympic medalist, and the first-ever winner of the Abbott World Marathon Majors wheelchair series. In her career, she has won five New York City Marathons, including four consecutively, and is now looking for her second consecutive and third overall title in the United Airlines NYC Half.

"I love this race. We get to run by all the great NYC iconic spots," McFadden said. "It's fun seeing all the kids running in Times Square as we go by; it will be great to be back after so long."

She will be challenged by Switzerland's Manuela Schr, who won the race in 2018 and 2015. The Swiss powerhouse racer took home five medals from her fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo last year before going on to win the Berlin, London, and Boston Marathons and finish third in New York. Schr has won three TCS New York City Marathons, with her most recent victory in 2019 marking the second-fastest time ever in New York City Marathon history.

The event's 2017 champion Susannah Scaroni will return to the roads for the first time since she was injured in a car accident last fall while training on the roads. She won a gold and bronze medal at the Tokyo Paralympics last summer and is the three-time defending champion of the Mastercard New York Mini 10K.


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