U.S. Olympians Bernard Lagat, Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman and Dathan Ritzenhein will run the NYC Half on March 17, the New York Road Runners said Wednesday.
Lagat, a five-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist at 1,500 meters who became a U.S. citizen in 2004, will be making his 13.1-mile debut at the race, organizers said. Lagat, 38, reclaimed his U.S. indoor two-mile record at the Millrose Games on Feb. 16 with his winning time of 8:09.49.
Keflezighi and Abdirahman were members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's marathon team, and Ritzenhein was on the 10,000-meter team. The elite U.S. field also includes Jason Hartmann, Guor Marial, Janet Bawcom, Serena Burla, Maegan Krifchin, Adriana Nelson, Molly Pritz, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and Lindsey Scherf.
"It's a big step up in distance, but I think I'll be well prepared," Lagat said on the NYRR's website. "Of course, there's a bit of uncertainty. 'Can I cope with the distance?' but that makes it exciting; the challenge is what really appeals to me."
The half marathon is in its eighth year, had 15,344 finishers last year and is run one month prior to the Boston Marathon. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the 26.2-mile New York Marathon last November as the city struggled to recover from Superstorm Sandy.
Keflezighi, 37, was fourth overall and the first U.S. finisher in the 2012 Olympic marathon, eight years after his silver-medal performance in Athens. He competed in the NYC Half in 2006, 2011 and 2012 and was the top U.S. finisher last year, placing 13th in 1:01.41. In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American since Alberto Salazar in 1982 to win the New York City Marathon. He has finished in that race's top 10 six times, most recently with a sixth-place finish in 2011.
"I am honored to be a part of the great field NYRR has assembled for this year's NYC Half," Keflezighi said. "This race will serve as a great tune-up as I prepare for the Boston Marathon. I'm looking forward to racing in front of my New York City fans and friends."
Abdirahman, 36, was second in the 2007 NYC Half in 1:00:29, which is the third-fastest half-marathon ever run by an American. The international field has not been announced.