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2009 USA Running Circuit Begins

Sunday, January 18

hosted by the Aramco Houston Half Marathon

For Immediate Release Thursday, January 15, 2009

Contact: Jim Estes USA Track & Field, Associate Director of LDR Programs/Marketing (317) 713-4661; jim.estes@usatf.org [mailto:jim.estes@usatf.org]

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Ritzenhein, O'Neill headline USA Half-Marathon Champs as 2009 USA Running  Circuit begins in Houston

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INDIANAPOLIS - 2008 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein (Eugene, Ore.) leads a  competitive men's field and 2004 Olympian Kate O'Neill (Palo Alto, Calif.) will  defend her 2008 title Sunday at the 2009 USA Half Marathon Championships, hosted by the  Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

Ritzenhein will be joined by two of his 2008 Olympic teammates,  marathoner Brian  Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.) and 5,000 meter team member Ian Dobson  (Mammoth,  Calif.) in the race for the first U.S. title of 2009.  Not to be  overlooked however is 2004 Olympic Marathon Silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego,  Calif.), who  is returning to form after injuries sidelined him in late 2008.

The men's field will feature more than 50 top U.S. athletes and also  includes 2008 USA 15 km champion Andrew Carlson (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 2007 USA Half  Marathon runner-up Fasil Bizuneh (Flagstaff, Ariz.), U.S. record holder for 25 km Fernando  Cabada (Boulder, Colo.) and Max King (Bend, Ore.), who finished third in the 2006  championship. In the women's race, O'Neill will face a highly competitive field that  includes  2008 Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy-Boulet (Oakland, Calif.), 2008 USA  Women's 8 km champion Sara Slattery (Mammoth, Calif.), 2008 USA Half Marathon  runner-up  Desiree Davila (Rochester Hills, Mich.) and the 10,000 meter champion at  the 2006 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Amy Rudolph (Providence,  R.I.).

Though not a masters championship, the field also includes masters stars  with 2004 Olympic Trials Marathon champion Colleen De Reuck and former NCAA  All-American at Wisconsin Stephanie Herbst-Lucke (Atlanta, Ga.) who will challenge for  top-10 open finishes.

About the USARC:

The Aramco Houston Half Marathon is the first stop on the 2009 USA  Running Circuit (USARC), and will feature a total championship prize purse of $59,500  plus potential bonuses. The 2009 USARC is a USA Track & Field road series, featuring USA  Championships from one mile to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance  runners, including Olympians Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan and Anthony  Famiglietti. The  2009 USARC has ten events each for men and women. The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first,  12 for  second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with a final $12,500 grand  prix purse ($6,000, $4,000, and $2,500) for the top three men and women point  scorers overall. The USARC points at the USA Marathon Championships will be doubled.

The mission of the USA Running Circuit is to showcase, support, and  promote U.S.  runners.  Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have  provided over $6 million dollars to U.S. distance runners. For more information on the 2009 USA Half-Marathon Championships visit  www.usatf.org. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~

About USA Track & Field USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and  field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF  encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of  Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more  than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org

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