May 27, 2005

Champions Defend Titles at Coca-Cola Zero Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Kenyan Joseph Ngolepus and Russian Tatiana Titova headline a group of returning champions who will be on hand to test out the new race course for the eighth running of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. The musical marathon, which recently signed Coca-Cola Zero as its title sponsor, is set for Sunday, June 5, 2005.

Ngolepus and Titova, winners in 2004, seek to defend their titles against a field that includes event record holder Philip Tarus and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Joyce Chep-chumba. The elite runners will all be vying for a prize purse that awards $20,000 and a new vehicle to both the men’s and women’s champions. Each second place finisher earns $20,000 and all told, the total prize purse is valued at nearly $200,000.

Ngolepus can expect a spirited battle from Tarus, who returns for another shot at the title. Tarus won the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 1998 and successfully defended his title in 1999 when he ran a 2:08:33, still the fastest mark in San Diego. Joining him are countryman Ondoro Osoro, the 2003 winner who ran a 2:09:38, and Ethiopian Belay Wolasha who won in 2000 with a 2:12:45.

On the women’s side, Titova, who lives and trains in Gainesville, Fla., ran a personal best 2:29:36 en route to her victory last year. She will face Chepchumba, the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games bronze medalist in the marathon. Chep-chumba, who was fourth at the ’04 London Marathon, owns the fastest time in the women’s field at 2:23:22.

“We have a large and experienced field this year,” said Mike Long, elite athlete coordinator for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. It should be an outstanding race on both the men’s and women’s side and I think it could be anybody’s game.” The invitational field will be the first to traverse the newly designed course that will welcome more than 20,000 runners and walkers on June 5.

To learn more about the marathon or to registration, visit www.rnrmarathon.com or call 800/311-1255.

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