Olympian Eric Gillis wins Athletics Canada's Canadian Marathon Championships at STWM 2016. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Olympian Eric Gillis wins Athletics Canada’s Canadian Marathon Championships at STWM 2016. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Olympians Eric Gillis and Lanni Marchant will run the United Airlines NYC Half on March 19. The half-marathon is one of America’s most popular half-marathons. Along with upwards of 20,000 runners, three elite Canadians (the third being Rachel Cliff) were announced as part of the international field on Tuesday.

The American field was announced earlier in the month, which includes defending women’s champion Molly Huddle. The NYC Half made considerable headlines in 2016 when a debate arose to whether or not Huddle should have been disqualified at the finish line. (See video here.) In a tight sprint finish, there appeared to be some contact, however, no protest or action was taken and the original results stood.

RELATED: Olympians top Canadian contingent at NACAC 10K Road Race Cup.

The Canadian trio includes some of the nation’s top distance talent. Marchant, for one, had a memorable race the last time she was in New York City. She finished seventh at this past fall’s New York City Marathon in 2:33:50. That was also the fastest time ever by a Canadian at the world’s largest marathon. For Gillis, who finished 10th at the Olympics in the men’s marathon last summer, the 21.1K fitness test will be a tune-up for the Boston Marathon on April 17.

Cliff, who hit the Olympic 5,000m qualifying time for Rio last summer but was not named to the team, will also be running. All three ran as part of a quartet at the NACAC 10K Road Race Cup in Puerto Rico on Feb. 26. Cliff ran the Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in 2014 clocking 1:15:04 and is a good candidate to knock significant time off the mark.

RELATED: Rachel Hannah and Eric Gillis lining up with elites at 2017 Boston Marathon.

Kenya’s Stephen Sambu will attempt to defend his title and go for his fourth consecutive top-five finish at the United Airlines NYC Half. Ethiopian Olympic medalists Feyisa Lilesa and Meseret Defar are also in the field, consisting of runners from 22 countries.

“This is without a doubt the best professional athlete field we’ve ever had at the United Airlines NYC Half,” said Peter Ciaccia, president of events for New York Road Runners and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon.

RELATED: A Canadian race a week for all of 2017.

The 2017 United Airlines NYC Half will feature 20,000 runners from more than 90 countries in the 13.1-mile race, which starts in Central Park, heads uptown through Harlem then back through famed Times Square to the finish line near Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. The event is organized by the NYRR, the same organization that puts on the TCS New York City Marathon.

International fields

NYC Half

Stats: NYRR.

With files from NYRR.


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