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New York Road Runners to Drop Pacemakers From ING New York City Marathon 2007

Hendrick Ramaala to run in the November 4 race
 
Conference call with Mary Wittenberg and Hendrick Ramaala scheduled for May 3
 
New York, May 3, 2007—Former champion Hendrick Ramaala should feel very comfortable when he returns to the ING New York City Marathon 2007 following today’s announcement that there will be no pacemakers at the 38th running of the race on Sunday, November 4.
 
The announcement was made by New York Road Runners president and CEO and ING New York City Marathon race director Mary Wittenberg. Ramaala, of Johannesburg, South Africa, is the first professional athlete to be announced for this year’s field.
 
The decision to eliminate pacemakers is consistent with the event’s history of championship-style racing, which puts a greater focus on head-to-head racing and down-to-the-wire finishes than on world or course records. The move also pays tribute to the storied history of the five-borough race, which has featured greats like Bill Rodgers who ran and won without the use of pacemakers.
 
In recent years, pacemakers were employed by NYRR for both the men’s and women’s races to lead the professionals at specific paces through the first 15.5 miles (25 kilometers), exiting the course at the Queensboro Bridge.
 
“Our sport is full of great stars who thrive on competition and the purity of head-to-head racing,” Wittenberg said. “In the end, it is all about the thrill of racing and the pursuit of victory. Who cares what the clock says? We owe it to our best to put them front and center and let them race.”
 
The elimination of pacers will also reduce some confusion, particularly for television audiences, about which athletes are leading the race. Additionally, the creation of easily identifiable uniforms for top athletes pursuing the World Marathon Majors $1 million champion’s purse further clarifies the leaders for casual fans.
 
The concept will be reviewed and evaluated after the marathon to determine future plans. NYRR began discussing the change after the ING New York City Marathon 2006, and numerous athletes and coaches have endorsed it, including Ramaala.
 
“Rest assured, there won’t be a dull moment with Hendrick running this race at his own pace from start to finish,” Wittenberg said. “Hendrick is a championship racer who runs to win, leaving it all on the playing field.”  
 
A two-time Olympian for South Africa, Ramaala won the ING New York City Marathon in 2004. In 2005, Ramaala returned to New York and staged an epic race with Paul Tergat, in which the world-record holder outleaned him at the finish line to win by less than a second. Ramaala, who holds a law degree from Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg, started running after he was cut from his university soccer team. He is a two-time medalist at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships.   
 
JUST THE FACTS: Hendrick Ramaala

 

Age
35
Residence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Personal Best
2:06:55 (London, 2006)
World Marathon Majors Rank
12th (11 points)
Third: 2006 Flora London Marathon
Fifth: 2007 Flora London Marathon
ING New York City Marathon
Top Finishes
2005: Second (2:09:31)
2004: First (2:09:28)
2001: Fifth (2:11:18)