Nine Olympians and Nine Paralympians to Lead Star-Studded Professional Athlete Field as All Four Defending Champions Return for 2019 United Airlines NYC Half on Sunday, March 17                                                                             

Ben True, Buze Diriba, Ernst van Dyk, and Manuela Schär will aim to defend titles as TCS New York City Marathon champion Daniel Romanchuk also lines up

U.S. Olympian Des Linden to use event as final tune-up ahead of Boston Marathon title defense, while U.S. Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo will make his half-marathon debut 

New York, February 21, 2019 – The 2019 United Airlines NYC Half will feature a star-studded professional athlete field featuring nine Olympians and nine Paralympians leading 25,000 runners from Brooklyn to Manhattan in the first race of the 2019 NYRR Five Borough-Series. The professional athlete field will be headlined by 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden and U.S. Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo, who will make his half marathon debut, as well as all four defending event champions: Ben TrueBuze DiribaErnst van Dyk and Manuela Schär. Also joining them at the starting line on Sunday, March 17 will be reigning TCS New York City Marathon champion Daniel Romanchuk. The 14th running of the event will take the professional athletes on a 13.1-mile tour through neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan and past iconic New York City landmarks, including Grand Army Plaza, the United Nations, Grand Central Terminal, and Times Square.

“We are very excited to welcome all four United Airlines NYC Half champions back to defend their titles against a world-class lineup of Olympians and Paralympians to lead 25,000 runners through the heart of New York from Prospect Park to Central Park,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of NYRR. “New York City and running fans are in for a treat as Des, Daniel, and our defending champions lead 25,000 runners on a spectacular park-to-park journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan.”

Women’s Open Division

Linden, a two-time Olympian from Charlevoix, MI, will use the United Airlines NYC Half as her final major tune-up race before attempting to defend her Boston Marathon title in April. Last year, she became the first American to win the women’s open division at the Boston Marathon in 33 years, breaking through after seven top-five finishes in Abbott World Marathon Majors races. She was one of four American women to finish in the top 10 at the TCS New York City Marathon in November, taking sixth place.

Diriba will be back after becoming the second Ethiopian winner in the women’s open division in event history last year when she took the tape in a sprint finish in 1:12:23. She also won the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park last year in the fourth-fastest time in event history, and lowered her half-marathon personal best to 1:06:50 at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

“I’m happy to be running the United Airlines NYC Half for the sixth time,” Linden said. “Over the years, this race has served as a nice tune-up for my runs at the Boston Marathon, and in 2019 I’ll try to duplicate as much as possible from my 2018 Boston buildup. The Prospect Park to Central Park course suits my type of running, and Boston last year showed me that on any given day, anything is possible. I’m excited about being in the mix on March 17.”

Challenging Linden and Diriba will be Kenya’s world-record holder in the half marathon, Joyciline Jepkosgei, who ran a 1:04:51 to win the 2017 Valencia Half-Marathon in Spain and then finished second in the distance at the 2018 IAAF World Championships. Her countrywoman, Mary Wacera, is a two-time World Championships Half-Marathon medalist, and will be running the United Airlines NYC Half in preparation for her marathon debut in Boston. Rounding out the Kenyan trio will be veteran Edna Kiplagat, who has won the New York City, Boston and London marathons in addition to two world championship marathon titles.

In addition to Linden, the Americans will be represented by two-time TCS New York City Marathon top-10 finisher Allie Kieffer, USATF champion and Pan American Games medalist Kellyn Taylor, 2018 Boston Marathon runner-upSarah Sellers, and 2018 USATF Marathon champion Emma Bates.

Men’s Open Division

Chelimo will make his half-marathon debut in the same city where he won the USATF 5K Championships last November in a course-record time. In 2016, Chelimo became the first U.S. athlete since 1964 to medal in the 5000 meters at the Olympics when he took silver; he followed that up with a 5000-meter bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships one year later.

“I’m really excited about this new challenge in my career – my first half marathon – and I’m especially excited to make it happen at the United Airlines NYC Half next month,” Chelimo said. “I love the energy I get from running through the city, and I’ve had great experiences running the USATF 5K Championships that finish right there in Central Park. I’ve been doing longer runs than ever in my training this winter, and am ready to show the long distance guys a thing or two on March 17. I have unfinished business on the track, and then I’m looking forward to making a debut in the TCS New York City Marathon in the near future.”

Challenging Chelimo will be True, who in 2018 became the first the first American to win the men’s open division at the United Airlines NYC Half, covering the new course in 1:02:39. The American 5K record-holder leads a talented cast of American men that includes four-time Olympian and 2007 event runner-up Abdi Abdirahman, 2018 USATF Marathon champion Brogan Austin, and U.S. Olympian and the top American finisher at the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Jared Ward.

Men’s Wheelchair Division

In 2018, Romanchuk became the first American and youngest athlete ever to win the men’s wheelchair division at the TCS New York City Marathon at just 20 years old. He has recorded two consecutive podium finishes at the United Airlines NYC Half, and last year also won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and set world records on the track over 800 and 5000 meters.

“I can’t wait to return to New York for the first time since winning the New York City Marathon,” Romanchuk said. “In 2016, the NYC Half was my first-ever race in New York, and it’s always a challenge. Plus, it’s so fun to race through Times Square.”

Romanchuk’s toughest competition will likely come from South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, who has won the United Airlines NYC Half the last four consecutive years and owns the event record. Also lining up will be American Josh George, a four-time Paralympian who won the inaugural wheelchair division at the NYC Half in 2014.

Women’s Wheelchair Division

Switzerland’s Schär, a three-time Paralympic medalist and six-time European champion, will be racing for her second consecutive United Airlines NYC Half victory just four months after capturing her second consecutive TCS New York City Marathon victory.

“I‘m looking forward to returning to New York for the United Airlines NYC Half,” Schär said. “Last year was a very hard battle with strong athletes, but also tough weather conditions. New York is always a great challenge, and I love that.”

She will face stiff competition from event record-holder, American Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist and five-time New York City Marathon champion whose lone victory in the event came in 2016. AmericanSusannah Scaroni, who won the race in 2017 and also won the first-ever wheelchair division at the NYRR New York Mini 10K last year, will join them.

Top Professional Athletes – Men’s Open Division

Athlete Country Personal Best Twitter
Abdi Abdirahman USA 1:00:29 @Abdi_runs
Brogan Austin USA 1:02:39 @brogan_austin
Chris Bendtsen USA 1:04:43  
Eric Blake USA 1:08:10 @EricMBlake
Soufiane Bouchiikhi BEL 1:03:03 @Soufiane_B22
Paul Chelimo USA Debut @PaulChelimo
Tim Chichester USA 1:04:56  
Noah Droddy USA 1:01:48 @IBuiltTheArk
Mikael Ekvall SWE 1:02:29  
Peter Geithner USA 1:08:55  
Brendan Gregg USA 1:02:55 @bg_gregg
Genki Kaneko JPN 1:02:16  
James Kelly GBR 1:07:41  
Colin Leak USA 1:04:34 @ColinLeak
Cam Levins CAN 1:02:15 @CamLevins
Mark Leininger USA 1:04:26  
Daniel Mesfun ERI 1:01:13  
Jonathan Mott USA 1:06:13  
Ken Nakayama JPN 1:01:32  
David Nilsson SWE 1:02:09 @DavidNilsson15
Harbert Okuti UGA 1:03:52  
John Raneri USA 1:03:49  
Tim Ritchie USA 1:01:23 @TimRitchieWTD
David Saunders USA 1:09:33  
Brian Shrader USA 1:05:26  
Parker Stinson USA 1:02:38 @ParkerStinson
Seth Totten USA 1:04:05 @MrSethT
Ben True USA 1:02:39 @bentrue
Sid Vaughn USA 1:03:36 @CajunLightning
Jared Ward USA 1:01:42 @jwardy21


Top Professional Athletes – Women’s Open Division

Athlete Country Personal Best Twitter
Meseret Ali Basa ETH 1:15:35  
Emma Bates USA 1:11:45 @emmajbates
Brittany Charboneau USA 1:15:38  
Sarah Crouch USA 1:11:31 @SarahCrouch89
Marisa Cummings USA 1:17:27  
Sarah Cummings USA 1:13:11 @sarahcummings
Sinke Dessie ETH 1:12:20  
Sydney Devore USA 1:14:21 @devoresydney
Buze Diriba ETH 1:06:50  
Birtukan Fente ETH 1:11:11  
Lindsay Flanagan USA 1:12:05 @lflanagan242
Erika Fluehr USA 1:15:46  
Kathryn Fluehr USA 1:14:01  
Bose Gemeda ETH 1:16:52  
Sasha Gollish CAN 1:11:05 @SGollishRuns
Danna Herrick USA 1:12:55 @dkherrick
Veronica Jackson USA 1:18:11  
Joyciline Jepkosgei KEN 1:04:51  
Ana Johnson USA 1:18:14  
Katie Kellner USA 1:14:41 @ktkellner
Allie Kieffer USA 1:10:40 @AllieKieffer
Edna Kiplagat KEN 1:07:41 @KiplagatEdna
Nina Lauwaert BEL 1:11:50  
Michele Lee USA 1:13:35 @malee2358
Des Linden USA 1:10:34 @des_linden
Dot McMahan USA 1:11:50  
Angela Ortiz USA 1:19:33  
Samantha Palmer USA 1:12:32  
Sarah Pease USA 1:13:39 @spease31
Madai Perez MEX 1:09:45  
Lauren Perkins USA 1:16:59  
Beverly Ramos PUR 1:12:09  
Sarah Sellers USA 1:14:27 @sarahwhosellers
Kellyn Taylor USA 1:10:16 @kellyn_taylor
Lauren Totten USA 1:12:01 @LaurenLoveRun
Annemarie Tuxbury USA 1:14:19  
Eva Vrabcova CZE 1:11:01 @evavrabcova
Mary Wacera KEN 1:06:29  
Becky Wade USA 1:11:15 @bexwade89
Alice Wright GBR 1:13:17 @AliceWright01


Top Professional Athletes – Men’s Wheelchair Division

Athlete Country Personal Best Twitter
Josh George USA 44:40 @jsgeorge
Aaron Pike USA 43:56 @Pikester86
Daniel Romanchuk USA 47:28