The 2018 Rock ‘n’ Roll® Philadelphia Half Marathon will once again include a world-class group of elite men and women when they toe the line on September 15-16. With the depth of the elite field, the half marathon, which will take place on September 16, is set to be one of the most thrilling races of the year, taking runners along the flat and fast course that starts on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, runs through Center City before winding along the city’s scenic Schuylkill River and finishing at the iconic “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Headlining the field will be Desiree “Des” Linden who won the 2018 Boston Marathon, becoming the first American woman to win the race in 33 years. Linden is a two-time Olympian from San Diego, California representing the United States of America at the last two Summer Olympic Games with her best finish coming in 2016 in Rio when she placed seventh. Her personal best in the marathon is 2:22:38 and 1:10:34 for the half marathon.
“I’ve enjoyed the post-Boston victory tour, but I’ve been itching to get back to racing,” said Linden. “I can’t wait to head to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon to test out the legs and find out where I’m at with my fall marathon training. With the fast course and stellar competition the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon always brings, it will be the perfect jumpstart to my fall racing season.”
American Sarah Sellers, who burst onto the scene when she came in second at the 2018 Boston Marathon, sets the stage for a rematch from earlier this year in Boston. Joining them at the start line is Kellyn Taylor who’s recent performance of 2:24:28 at Grandma’s Marathon in June put her seventh on the list of all-time fastest U.S. women marathoners.
The star-studded men’s field is led by Feyisa Lilesa, the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Marathon silver medalist. The Ethiopian distance runner has recorded a personal best of 2:04:52 ranking him in the top-ten fastest marathoners ever. Lilesa also boasts a personal best in the half marathon breaking the one-hour barrier at 59:22 and last year he won the New York City Half Marathon.
“I’m looking forward to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon,” said Lilesa. “The race has a great history. World records have been set there, and it has had some fantastic champions. I am aiming to add my name to that list.”
Lilesa will face some tough competition with four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, and 2015 World Marathon Champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, toeing the start line beside him. Somalian-born Abdirahman represented the United States at the Olympics in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 and placed 3rd in the New York City Marathon in 2016. He has personal bests of 2:08:56 in the marathon and 1:01:07 in the half marathon. Ghebreslassie hails from Eritrea and made a name for himself winning the 2015 World Marathon Championship. In 2016, he became the youngest male to ever win the New York City Marathon at 20-years old. His personal bests are 2:07:46 for the marathon and 1:00:09 in the half marathon.
“It’s great to welcome so many fantastic athletes to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon,” said Josh Furlow, Managing Director of North America for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®. “As the fall marathon season begins, athletes will be using this race as a measure of how months of training have been going. Having Olympic medalists and World Champions line up against World Marathon Major winners shows the regard with which this race is held. We’re looking forward to another fantastic edition next month.”
The half marathon will begin Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on the Ben Franklin Parkway and finishing in front of the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The flat and fast course is extremely picturesque, traversing City Hall, Market Street, Schuylkill River, Falls Bridge and ending back in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval. A brand-new course this year adds more mileage in Center City.
Event weekend will feature two days of running with the 5K and 10K on Saturday, September 15. Participants can take on the “Remix Challenge” by running both Saturday and Sunday to earn the coveted Remix Challenge medal in addition to each race’s finisher medals. In true Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion, live bands, and spectators will line the race route, concluding with a celebratory finish line festival and post-race Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series at Fairmount Park.