International flavor to Sunday's road race

This Sunday’s Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon features top athletes from Ethiopia, Kenya, Russia and the United States.
With 5,000 entrants the 1⁄2 marathon has reached its entry limit.  A record 1,500 participants are expected in Saturday’s 5K, and race entries will be accepted on race day. Both events take place at Fairfield’s Jennings Beach.
Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Girma, last year’s race winner, heads a strong field of elite athletes.
Girma boasts the fastest half marathon best in the field (1:00),  and he recently won the Brooklyn Half Marathon.
Fellow Ethiopians, Girma Bekele, Worku Beyi and Lishan Yigezu, are expected to challenge Girma.
Bekele has broken 4 minutes in the mile and has run 10 miles in 47:17.
Beyi won the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon in 2009.
Yigezu has a 2:11 marathon best.
The Ethiopians will be challenged by a strong group of Kenyan athletes.
Amos Sang won April’s Stratton Faxon Danbury Half Marathon.
Robert Wambua Mbithi and Shadrack Kipkorir Kiyai have respective half marathon bests of 1:01 and 1:02.
Ethiopia’s Askale Merachi is the favorite in the women’s race. Merachi has won 11 of the 12 races she has run this year.
New Hampshire’s Heidi Westover is expected to challenge Mercachi. Westover won the recent Vermont City Marathon and was second in the 2009 Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon.
New York’s Isla Paulson, who was third in the 2009 U.S. 20K National Championship held in New Haven, should challenge for the top spot.
Russia’s Irina Alexandrova and Ethiopia’s Tigist Tufa should also finish near the top.
Alexandrova has a half marathon best of 1:13 and Tufa has run 1:10.
Burlington’s Mary Currier, 2000 Stratton Faxon Fairfield champion, is expected to be the top Connecticut finisher.
For event information, visit or call 203- 481-5933.

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