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Defending champion Kogo back at Half

Established the course record last year

August 11, 2011
News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - The men's elite field for the 25th News and Sentinel Men's Half Marathon is still not complete, but it will include the defending champion and course record holder in 26-year old Kenyan Julius Kogo, who has agreed to return for another shot at the $3,000 prize.

"It is always nice to have the defending champ back," explained race director Chip Allman. "He is the one everybody shoots for. He will make the others try harder."

Such was the case a year ago when Kogo, who covered the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 8 seconds to break the old course mark of 1:02:25 established by Steve Kogo in 1990, made the trek back to the Mid-Ohio Valley after a disappointing finish the year before.

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Facing him were three-time champion Alene Reta from Ethiopia and a field that included 31-year old Canadian Reid Coolsact, 34-year old Ethiopian Girma Tolla and 33-year old Kenyan Samuel Ndereba.

Kogo dominated the race from start to finish, with Reid slipping past Reta (1:04:20) for second in a time of 1:03:46. Rounding out the top five were Tolla (1:04:31) and Ndereba (1:04:38).

"Everything went right for him (Kogo)," said Allman. "I really expected Reta to win again because he had been just so dominant over the past three years. But, you have to give a lot of credit to Kogo, he thought he should have won the year before and came back to prove it."

The field looking to take the title away from the Kenyan won't include Reta, but that doesn't mean it won't have enough talented runners to give the defending champ a very, very good race.

"It (the field) is not as good as last year's," Allman said. "But, that doesn't mean there won't be some very talented runners."

In addition to Kogo, Tolla returns after a top five performance in 2010. The 34-year-old already has run a 1:02:46 this year at the New York City Half Marathon and clocked a personal best time of 1:01:26 in Philadephia in 2008.

The remainder of the internationals in the elite field include Kenyans Julius Koskei and Lamech Mokono Mosoti and Ethiopians Tariku Bokan, Deresse Deniboba, Demesse Tefera and Genna Tufa.

As a 21-year old, Koskei placed 21st at the 14th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Edmonton, Canada. The 29-year-old has run a personal best 1:01:17 at the 2004 Philadephia Half Marathon.

Deniboda already has eclipsed the 1:03 mark this year in the United States as the 30-year old posted a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 19 seconds less than two months ago in Deluth, Minn., while Mokono's personal best at the 13.1-mile distance (1:02.53) was attained in Indianapolis in 2008.

Looking to return the championship to America for the first time since Colorado's Dan Browne beat the field to the finish line in 2001 will be an elite American contingent led by 31-year old Pennsylvanian Luke Watson, who has run a personal best of 1:04, and 24-year old Canton, Ohio, native Nic Schweckert (1:05).

Watson finished behind 25-year old Jeffrey Eggelston (1:06:06) in last year's race for the American title, covering the race in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Rounding out the American field will be 29-year old Josh Ordway, who finished behind Watson in a time of 1:09:02, 28-year old Leo Kormanik and 30-year old John Poray.

"Even though this may not be our best field ever, that doesn't mean that fans won't see an exciting race," said Allman. "Kogo will be the runner to beat, but I think we have enough quality to make this a very interesting race to watch."

Copyright 2011 Parkersburg News and Sentinel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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