Olympic champion Meseret Defar scratches return due to illness
Meseret Defar will return to competition for the first time since giving birth to a baby as she races the 2015 Geico Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon on Nov. 15, race organizers told SI.com.
Defar last competed at the Great North Half-Marathon in September 2013, when she finished second in 66:09 to Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo. She won two Diamond League races and captured her second world championship gold medal at the 5,000-meter distance. She has run the second fastest half-marathon time on American soil for a woman with her 1:07:25 victory at the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon in New Orleans.
Defar could look to add a third Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to go along with her 5,000-meter victories at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics.
The men’s side of the half-marathon will feature Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Ben Bruce (1:02:53 personal best) and the debut of former Texas Longhorn All-American Craig Lutz. Both athletes compete for the Northern Arizona Elite training group in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Update on Nov. 10: Race organizers have informed SI that Defar will not be making the trip from Ethiopia to Las Vegas after missing several days of practice due to illness.
“Unfortunately Meseret has been ill for the last few days and has missed some training, as a consequence she has reluctantly been forced to withdraw from this weekends RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon,” elite coordinator Matthew Turnbull says. “It's been a long road back for her after giving birth to [daughter] Gabriella, so we hope she recovers quickly and we see her back racing soon.”
- Christopher Chavez