Historically Fast Times on Tap for Publix Atlanta Half Marathon
ATLANTA - February 15, 2022 - After a stunning
marathon debut in New York City last fall, Viola Cheptoo (Lagat) will
return to racing at the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon on February 27 and attempt
to become the fastest female half marathoner to ever break the finish tape on
Cheptoo was the runner-up at the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon
in the third fastest time in race history (2:22:44). She is part of an elite
field that will lead the race back through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia for
the first time since March of 2020.
Race organizer Atlanta Track Club announced a prize purse totaling
$17,000 for the men's and women's race as well as a $2,500 bonus for the
fastest half marathons ever run in the state of Georgia. Abdisamed
Abdi (1:03:59) and Molly Seidel (1:08:29) currently hold those
records, both set at this event in 2021 when it was held at Atlanta Motor
Speedway due to COVID-19.
It will be Cheptoo's first visit to Atlanta
although her brother, Bernard Lagat, knows the city well. Lagat, a five-time
Olympic medalist is the 2018 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race
"I am looking forward to it," said Cheptoo, a
Florida State University graduate who represents her home country of Kenya. "I
want to do well and build a relationship with the community, as I am aware of
all the good work done by Atlanta Track Club." Cheptoo said the race will be a
tune-up for the Boston Marathon in April.
Cheptoo will face competition up front
from Dorcas Tuitoek whose 1:06:33 in 2019 is the fastest half
marathon personal best amongst the elite competitors. The 24-year-old Kenyan
ran her debut marathon in Valencia, Spain last December, placing 8th in
Dakotah Lindwurm (St.
Francis, Minnesota) leads a group of American women who also appear in the 2022
Boston Marathon's elite field. Lindwurm ran 1:09:36, a personal best, at the
Aramco Houston Half Marathon last month. "This race comes at a really good
time," Lindwurm said of her decision to come to Atlanta. "I've just really been
enjoying the half right now." Lindwurm, who famously ran with the lead pack in
last fall's Boston Marathon, is hoping to run 2:26 in that race when it returns
to Patriot's Day on April 18.
In the men's race, Kenyan runners Benard Ngeno
and Geoffrey Koech lead the field with half marathon personal bests of
under one hour. Ngeno also made his marathon debut in Valencia last year
running 2:07:18. Koech raced last at the Bahrain Royal Half Marathon in
December placing 5th in 1:00:24. 2021 BMW Berlin Marathon runner-up Bethwell
Yegon (Kenya) will be in the field as well, using the race as a tune up for
the Boston Marathon.
The race marks a homecoming for Matt
McDonald. The 10th place finisher in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials -
Marathon is among the top Americans in the field. McDonald competed for Atlanta
Track Club while pursuing his doctorate at Georgia Tech. He now competes for
the Boston Athletic Association while working at MIT. McDonald will make the
trip with his BAA teammate Jonas Hampton, who was eighth at the Trials
in Atlanta. Rory Linkletter who set
the Canadian half marathon record in Houston last month (1:01:08) also looks to
be in the lead pack.
Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend will be held
February 26-27, 2022 in Atlanta Georgia. The USATF 5km Masters Championship, an
all-comers 5K and kids races will be held on Saturday. The half marathon and
marathon will be held on Sunday.