Hurricane Earl was a no show on the  weekend of 4/5 September in Virginia Beach, but Kenya's Yusuf Songoka and Japan's Madoka Ogi made their presences felt in a big way on Sunday morning, winning the 10th Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon presented by SunTrust in 1:02:46 and 1:14:17, respectively.

Songoka, who posted three podium finishes in Virginia Beach from 2005 through 2007, out-sprinted countryman Patrick Ivuti and Ethiopia's Tesfaye Sendeku in the final half mile of the famous Virginia Beach Boardwalk to claim his first Rock 'n' Roll victory.

"I feel at home here," said the 31-year-old Sangoka. "Six years running the race-fourth, third, second-to win is a privilege and a good preparation for my fall marathon."

Songoka, Ivuti and Sendeku battled relentlessly for 13.1-miles, separating themselves early on in the race from the rest of the field. Passing the 10K mark in 29:15, the two Kenyans exchanged surges, trying to drop their Ethiopian rival, who began to massage his right hamstring, which affected him the rest of the way.
"My hamstring began bothering me at 10K," said Sendeku, who briefly held the lead in the second mile.

Songoka, who ran his personal best of 2:08:52 in winning the Hanover Marathon in Germany earlier this year, will take another stab at the 26.2-mile distance on October 10 in Seoul, South Korea. Ivuti plans to run the Eindhoven Marathon in the Netherlands the same day. Sendeku will race next at the ING Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on September 19.

 

Ogi, 26, won the women's race in convincing fashion, separating herself at halfway to claim victory by well over a minute in front of New Zealand's Fiona Docherty, who ran 1:15:39. Docherty, a former world class triathlete turned world class runner, posted her second straight Rock 'n' Roll runner-up finish. She placed second at Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon last month.

"I felt if I could attack the second half I would have the chance to win it," Ogi said after the race. This was the sixth year that Japan has sent professional runners from their various national corporate championships to Virginia Beach. While the Japanese women had posted third place finishes on two previous occasions, never before had a Japanese runner won the race.

The women's race began 15 minutes before the men, with reigning Olympic Marathon champion Constantina Dita leading the charge with a 5:36 first mile. The leaders passed 5K in 17:30, opening a 24-second gap on the chase pack. After hitting the 10K mark in 35:15, Ogi pushed the pace, posting the fastest 5K split of the day (16:43), to open up a large gap that propelled her to victory. The 40-year-old Dita, who was not in top form for the race, held on for a fourth place in 1:17:20.

With Hurricane Earl passing through the area two days before the event, the start line temperature of 67F degrees with 64-percent humidity proved to be the best weather conditions in the race's ten-year history. More than 18,000 athletes took advantage of the ideal conditions, enjoying the blue skies and a beach-side party that followed the race. Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon headlined Sunday evening's post-race concert, capping the Labor Day Weekend tradition.

The 11th Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach will take place on

Sunday, September 4, 2011.


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