Stanley Biwott will be in the hunt for this third consecutive Philadelphia half-marathon title this September, but he will have to compete with one of the world’s top road racers, Geoffrey Mutai.
Last year Biwott won the event in 59:35:00 and in 2012 he won in 1:00:01, making the race one of the fastest in the United States the previous two seasons, although this year a time faster still may need to run in order to win. Mutai sports a half-marathon personal best of 58:58. Biwott has run 58:56, making the two very evenly matched at the distance.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia half-marathon was near the centre of a change in direction for the race series nearly one year ago when Competitor Group Inc., the company that hosts the events, announced they would no longer be paying elite athlete appearance fees only weeks before the event, which regularly features strong professional fields.
In the months following the announcement, some athletes and figures in the professional road racing community spoke out against the decisions and others supported it. Competitor Group went through a change in executive leadership, hiring a new CEO and CFO, as well starting new elite prizing structures and programs last January that include $50,000 in prize money for a half-marathon elite grand prix. The half-marathon in Philadelphia is identified as a target race for the grand prix and also features a large prize pot of $3,5000 to the male and female winners. Races in San Diego, Montreal and Carlsbad, Calif., are also targeted.