Share This Page

'Rabbit' ready for return to Pittsburgh Marathon

| Saturday, May 5, 2012, 12:44 a.m.
Jeffrey Eggleston, from Flagstaff Arizona chats with visitors to the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo Friday May 4, 2012. Eggleston was the men's winner of the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The “rabbit” has returned. And this time he brought a few friends.

A year after winning the Pittsburgh Marathon despite starting out as a pace-setting rabbit, Jeffrey Eggleston will headline a field of 83 elite runners for Sunday's race that's the deepest — and most talented — in the marathon's history.

“I want to prove that it wasn't a fluke last year,” said Eggleston, who finished with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 40 seconds. “I also want to prove that I can be competitive with a top international field.”

The elite group is about 25 percent larger than last year and includes 31 running the men's full marathon and 25 for the half. Thirteen elite women will run the full 26.2 miles, 14 will stick to the half.

Besides Eggleston, several other notable champions will run.

James Kirwa set the course record (2:12:54) during the 2011 Des Moines Marathon; Folisho Tuko won the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon in 2:19:16; and Malika Mejdoub, who finished first in the women's half-marathon here last year, will bump up to the full, with the hope of earning a qualifying time for Morocco in the Summer Olympics.

“Every time you put on a race and have a deep field — whether you have Ethiopians, Kenyans or how Jeff won last year — it's huge,” said Meb Keflezighi, who won the 2009 New York City Marathon, the first American in 27 years to do so. Keflezighi will watch Sunday's race and was at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Friday for an elite runner “roundtable.”

“A good group of runners can make or break the race,” he added.

Race director Patrice Matamoros called attracting elite runners “synergy.”

The more that run, the better the competition. The better the competition, the more impressive the times — and the more those times mean.

“The better the field, that's the context I want to find myself in for a race,” Eggleston said.

Some runners not expecting to contend for the title will race to push those who are. The talent of the upper crust then pushes the bottom of the elite field, a win-win situation.

“I knew there would be some really good international runners coming in, so my focus is helping them run a great race here,” said Greenville native Jed Christiansen, who's running the half-marathon. “Do that and see what kind of time I can get.”

Dick's Sporting Goods is offering $10,000 to anyone who breaks the course record. More money also has become available for winners — in excess of $80,000.

“I've talked to a lot of people who live on the course, and they are so excited,” Matamoros said. “They say they can open their door in their bathrobe, and they have world champions running by their door.”

Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.