Canada's No.1 ranked marathoners, Brown and Kortchaguina, to lead record field at this Sunday's Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon



    
    - 15 local charities are also raising funds in the Scotiabank Group
    Charity Challenge -
    

    VANCOUVER, June 24 /CNW/ - Victoria's Jon Brown and Toronto's Lioudmila
Kortchaguina, Canada's No.1 ranked men's and women's marathoners, are
confirmed to toe the start line this Sunday in front of a record field of more
than 4,200 for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon. The race will follow
one of the world's most scenic routes from UBC Thunderbird Stadium, along
Marine Drive past Spanish Banks, Kits Beach, over the Burrard Bridge and down
into Stanley Park.
    Another 700 participants, many of whom are running for their favourite
charity, are expected in the accompanying 5K, which starts and finishes by The
Fish House in Stanley Park. Combined, both events are hoping to set a
fundraising record of $300,000 this year for 15 local charities participating
in the Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge.
    The half-marathon will provide one of Jon Brown's final tune-ups as he
prepares to lead Canada's men's marathon squad in the IAAF World Championships
in Berlin in August. It will be the first Canadian racing vest for Brown.
Although the 38-year-old "Brownie" moved to Victoria with his family in 1996,
the Welshman continued to run for his native Great Britain, finishing an
outstanding 4th in the Olympic marathons in both 2000 and 2004. In Sydney he
missed a bronze medal by just seven seconds and by only 15 seconds in Athens.
Brown won the Scotiabank Vancouver Half in June 2004 (63:53) as his final
preparation for Athens. He became a Canadian citizen in 2005 and switched his
athletic allegiance to Canada in January 2008. With a 2:09:31 personal record
(London 2005) and a 2:12 run at Japan's world-famous Fukuoka Marathon last
December, Brown brings a level of international class and experience to the
Canadian marathon scene. It also comes at an opportune time for Canada as
Brown provides leadership and mentoring for an excellent, new crop of young
up-and-coming marathoners.
    Going into Sunday's race, Brown is currently sitting in 2nd place in the
prestigious Canada Running Series (CRS) 2009 standings (96 points), armed with
a 6th place finish (66:44) at the Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, the Canadian
Half-Marathon Championships, in late April.
    Brown can expect one of the great East-West battles, which have become an
annual treat at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half. Giitah Macharia of Toronto
desperately needs a good run. The race winner in 2005 (64:55) and 2006
(64:29), he was crowned Canadian Men's Marathon Champ at Ottawa in May 2008
(2:16:55) but has struggled since then. He needs to run under 65 minutes on
Sunday to "prove fitness" and join Brown on the Canadian team for Berlin.
Macharia will be coming to Vancouver directly from altitude training in
Albuquerque. Josephat Ongeri, a Kenyan now settled in Milton, Ontario, and
current CRS '09 standings leader (105 points), is also certain to push Brown.
Josephat was 2nd overall at last year's Scotiabank Vancouver Half in 65:14 and
beat Brown by more than a minute in Montreal (65:05). He also ran 2:16:45 at
Ottawa in 2008 to edge Macharia by 10 seconds over the 42K distance.
Representing Quebec, Montreal's Bagdad Rachem should also be in the lead pack,
further underscoring that the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon is truly a
Canada-wide showcase. A 4th place finisher in 2005 (65:48), Rachem is coming
off a strong outing at the Sporting Life 10K (CRS event No.4) on May 3, 2009,
where he clocked an impressive 29:36 behind Ongeri's 28:49.
    The women's race also promises a gripping East-West challenge, where
Canadian Olympian Lisa Harvey will do battle with Toronto's Lioudmila
Kortchaguina and Josiane Aboungono.
    Harvey, who finished 2nd overall in the 2008 and 2007 editions of the
race, will definitely be up against it as a returning-to-top-form Kortchaguina
looks for revenge. Harvey outran her in '07 when Kortchaguina ran a
disappointing 77:11 for 3rd place overall. Lioudmila had won the Scotiabank
Vancouver Half in 2003, '04 and '05. In '03 she ran a world-class 70:50 that
remains her personal record for the distance. Through 2007 and '08, she
strugged with a hip injury that deprived her of a place on the Canadian team
for the Beijing Olympics. Then, as rumours swirled that her career might be
over, she bounced back with a tremendous 2:30:43 in Houston in January of this
year, to take 3rd place overall. She then follow it up with a 2nd place finish
in Ottawa last month in 2:32:10 that also earned her the Canadian Women's
Marathon Championship crown. Denied the elusive Canadian vest in Berlin
because Canada doesn't have five women who have made the IAAF standard
necessary to send a team, Lioudmila will have something to prove on Sunday. A
strong performance in Vancouver could also provide an important springboard
for summer training and a possible headliner appearance for her at September's
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
    There is still time to book your place on the start line for the 11th
Annual Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K "fun run" and do some
last-minute fundraising for one of the 15 participating charities in the
Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge. Details, including the course map showing
entertainment centres and the best locations for spectators, are at
www.vancouverhalf.com.

    About the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K:

    Launched in 1999, the event features one of the most scenic routes,
starting at UBC Thunderbird Stadium to Stanley Park, a 5K "fun run" and the
Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge, which offers a unique opportunity for
runners and walkers to raise funds for 15 local community charities. Growing
in popularity year by year, the half-marathon field has swelled to more than
4,200, attracting elite runners and participants from across Canada, as well
as points in the U.S. and internationally.

    About Scotiabank:

    Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live
and work, both in Canada and abroad. Recognized as a leader internationally
and among Canadian corporations for its charitable donations and philanthropic
activities, in 2008, the Bank provided more than $43 million in sponsorships
and donations to a variety of projects and initiatives, primarily in the areas
of healthcare, education, social services and arts and culture. Please visit
us at www.scotiabank.com.





For further information:

For further information: Michelle Cobb, Scotiabank Public Affairs, (778)
327-5451, cell (778) 668-2995; Clifton Cunningham, Race Director, Scotiabank
Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K, (778) 786-3116 or cell (604) 839-7889


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