The 2011 Dodge Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon takes place tomorrow, October 2 and this year there are two favorites fans are watching: Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi
American record-holder and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, 38, headlines the elite field, running her first half-marathon since giving birth to her daughter, Piper, earlier this year.
“The Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon has really been my focus since coming back from maternity leave,” said Kastor, who trains with the Mammoth Track Club in California. “I am looking for my fitness to peak in January for the Olympic Trials, but this is a big stepping stone to get into longer marathon training. The Half marathon distance is my favorite distance to race and I am particularly excited race in San Jose. My Mammoth Track Club teammates Meb and Jen Rhines have both run well in San Jose, so I look forward to following in their footsteps.”
“Right after the birth of Piper, people told me how fit I looked and the reality was that I had lost a lot of muscle and fitness, so I was merely skinny,” Kastor said of her maternity leave. “It has been fun to slowly climb back and feel my body adapt to the training. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m a much better athlete than I was 6 months ago.”
Leading the men’s field is 36-year-old Meb Keflezighi has won an impressive 20 USA road, track and cross country titles so far. Keflezighi, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen upon shortly after graduating from UCLA in 1998. Meb plans to run the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 6 and the U.S. Olympic marathon trials Jan. 14 in Houston.
Also running will be American Sergio Reyes, who won the 2010 USATF National Marathon Championship at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota. A two-time NAIA and NCCAA All-American in cross country and the 2002 NAIA champion at Cedarville University in Ohio, Reyes ran personal best marks in the 5,000m (13:52.39), 10,000m (28:29.70), 10 miles (48:32) and marathon (2:14:02) in 2010. In September he represented the Team USA at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Daegu, Korea, finishing 45th overall.
A sub-four minute miler, UC Berkley graduate Bolota Asmerom returns to race in San Jose where he set his half marathon personal best in 2006. Asmerom, a three-year letter winner in track for Cal, owns a track PR over 5,000m of 13:15. While still in college, his duel citizenship allowed him to represent Eritrea in the 5,000m at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
Potential challengers include Hansons-Brooks Distance Project teammates Drew Polley and Robert Scribner. Polley finished second to Keflezighi at the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon in June. Scribner recently won the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon in a personal best 1:04:52, which qualified him for the 2012 Olympic Trials.
The weekend has already kicked off with the Health & Fitness Expo at the San Jose Convention Center. Race registration is available at the Expo on Friday, Sept. 30, from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 1, from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The free Expo is open to the public.
California’s fastest half marathon starts at 8:00 am on Sunday, October 2. The race route begins at W Santa Clara St and Almaden Blvd and will come to an exciting and scenic finish at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose. Live bands will play along every mile of the 13.1-mile course, along with local cheerleaders, to motivate and keep runners rocking the entire way.
Participants, their friends and family will celebrate their accomplishment at the finish line festival with a performance by Big Head Todd and the Monsters, who will rock the stage at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez immediately following the race.