Tag Archives: United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

What’s In A Name? For Rhonex Kipruto Nobody Is Quite Sure

When Kenya’s Rhonex Kipruto first came here for the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K back in 2018, he was just 18 and had never been to the United States before.

He was warmly welcomed by the race organizers, New York Road Runners (NYRR), who made sure that he and his adidas teammate, Mathew Kimeli, were comfortable in their hotel near Central Park. Both athletes hoped to break the Central Park record of 27:35 and earn a special $30,000 bonus in addition to the first place prize of $10,000.

On his first morning in the hotel, Kipruto had a breakfast of tea (Kenyan style with milk and lots of sugar), and toast the NYRR staff had their first chance to get to know him. He talked a little bit about his family and his training, but when he was asked about his unusual name he demurred. Even when pressed he only smiled and continued to eat. Surely there was a story there, but Kipruto was not going to tell it. He finished his breakfast, and two days later smashed that Central Park record by running 27:08 (the still-standing USA all-comers record), and went home with $40,000 (after passing an in-competition drug test, of course).

A lot has changed for Kipruto since then, who has raced sparingly since the beginning of the pandemic. He won the 2018 World Athletics U20 Championships 10,000m title in 2019, earned a bronze medal at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in the 10,000m, broke the longstanding Peachtree 10-K course record by running 27:01 in 2019 (worth a $50,000 bonus), and set a new 10-K world record of 26:24 in early 2020 before the pandemic shutdown.

Yet, nobody has been able to learn anything more about his name.

“He said he would tell me, but that was six years ago,” said his agent Davor Savija over breakfast today at a midtown diner.

A Google search on the word “rhonex” returns only pages of references to Kipruto himself, except for a coincidental hit for “Rhone-X,” a medical term for diabetic macular edema, and the “Peloton x Rhone” high-performance tank top. Surely neither has any relation to Kipruto’s given name.

Kipruto, who flew into New York last night, runs Sunday’s United Airlines NYC Half on a hilly course from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Savija said his athlete is in good shape and recently completed a strong 20-kilometer time trial in Kenya to get ready for the race. He’ll be facing a quality international field which features American two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp, Australian Olympian Brett Robinson, and Kenyan road racing veteran Stephen Sambu who won the race in 2016.

But it is doubtful that any more information about the origin of his name will be forthcoming.

“Nobody knows,” said Savija, as he finished his toasted English muffin and crispy bacon.

Korir to defend his title at USATF Half Marathon

Leonard Korir the defending champion leads an impressive men’s field into Sunday’s USATF Half Marathon Championships in Pittsburgh, while Olympic triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen makes her debut over the 13.1 mile distance and finds plenty of competition on the women’s side.

The USATF Half Marathon Championships, hosted by the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, are the fourth stop on the 2017 USATF Running Circuit. Race videos, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race on USATF.

Korir, who won the USATF Cross Country Championships and USATF 15 km Championships earlier this season, leads the current USATF Running Circuit standings with a whopping 45 points, 21 points ahead of current second place runner Martin Hehir. While Korir did not finish at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in late March, the defending champion will look to get back to the top of the podium in Pittsburgh.

Looking to get his 2018 season going, while challenging Korir for victory, is three-time USATF Cross Country champion Chris Derrick. The Bowerman Track Club standout has had an up and down past couple years while dealing with injury, but a good block of training of late, including top eight finishes at the United Airlines NYC Half and Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile show he is in fine form.

The trio of Parker Stinson, George Alex and Matt Llano are also all capable of a top three challenge. Stinson in particular is having a fine 2018 season. The 26-year old has already run three half marathons this year, finishing each between 63:35-63:44, while he also placed second in the 10,000m at the Mt. SAC Relays last month.

For Alex, he’s raced sparingly in 2018, most recently placing fifth at the SACTOWN Run in early April, a race where Llano took third. Alex holds a half marathon best of 62:54, fourth fastest in the field, while Llano holds the third fastest in 61:47, sitting only behind Derrick’s 61:12 and Korir’s 59:52.

One runner to quietly keep an eye on is Hudson Elite runner Sid Vaughn Jr. Vaughn Jr. edged out Stinson in the 10,000m at the Mt. SAC Relays, finishing a half step ahead for the win, while also besting a strong field, including Alex, Llano and others at the SACTOWN Run last month. The 23-year old former University of Georgia runner continues to improve and impress.

Other notable entries include Korir’s U.S. Army teammate Samuel Kosegei, who placed fifth at the USATF Marathon Championships in December, ZAP Fitness teammates Andrew Colley and Johnny Crain, as well as sub-64 minute half marathon runners Ben Payne and Roots Running Project teammates Willie Milam and Wade Meddles.

Unlike the experience Korir brings to the roads, Jorgensen continues to make her transition from professional triathlete to professional distance runner and gives the half marathon distance a go Sunday. Jorgensen has shown some tremendous speed on the track, having run 15:15 for 5000m indoors, finishing only behind teammate Emily Infeld, while coming back to run 31:55 for 10,000m at the Stanford Invitational just over a month ago – where she beat NCAA champion Karissa Schweizer among others.

While Jorgensen is unfamiliar with the half marathon distance, the Bowerman Track Club runner did compete at the USATF 10 Mile Championships in 2016, where she placed third, coming back to place 14th at the New York City Marathon a month later.

Challenging Jorgensen up front are experienced veterans Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sara Hall. Tuliamuk, the two-time defending USATF Running Circuit overall champion, won four USATF Running Circuit races in 2017. While the former Wichita State standout finished third in last year’s USATF Half Marathon Championships, she’s ready to challenge for yet another win on the circuit.

For Hall, the California-based runner is in a similar situation, hoping to use Sunday’s race to prove she’s back to being a consistent contender on the USATF Running Circuit. Hall won both the USATF Marathon and USATF 10 Mile Championships in 2017, while finishing second behind Tuliamuk in the overall circuit standings (123-85 points). Both Tuliamuk (69:16) and Hall (69:37) hold personal bests under 70 minutes.