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Defending champ to skip Queens Half-Marathon

There will be a new champion in the 24th Annual Queens Half-Marathon, to be held Saturday, April 13. Last spring’s winner, Paul Mwangi, who covered the course in 1:06.32, and one of the top runners in the area, said he doesn’t think that he will defend his title this year, opting instead to compete in a 5K in Houston.

Mwangi’s last race came three weeks ago in Massachusetts when we won a 10K.

Now the field could be wide open in the Half Marathon unless another superstar emerges on the scene. The better athletes will be after the cash prizes and the course record of 1:05.52, set back in 1984 by Steve Kogo.

Another pre-race favorite, Matt Wilkinson of Westfield, Pa., winner of the Brooklyn Half-Marathon, is also expected to skip the Queens race, which takes the runners for two loops around College Point and Malba and finishes within McNeil Park. The race is slated to being at 8 a.m. at McNeil Park, located at 119 Street and Poppenhusen Avenue in College Point.

The fifth place finisher in the Brooklyn Half, Stephane Bois, who recorded a 1:11.49, could head the entries.

“My goal is to break 1:11,” he recently said, “My personal best in 1:11.09 set two years ago in Staten Island.”

Bois is putting in 80 to 90 miles a week in Central Park and Riverside Park in Manhattan, he said.

“My favorite distance is the half marathon,” Bois said. “I’ll run the whole series.”

Many local athletes and those representing local clubs, such as Warren Street West Side YMCA, Hillrose Athletic Club, Quantum Feet, Alley Pond Striders and College Point Road Runners Track Club, will be represented.

Race Director Leo Nicholas, from College Point Road Runners Track Club, which is hosting the event along with the New York Road Runners Track Club, expects more than 3,500 entries combined for both events. Nicholas also said the 13.1-mile course is in fine shape this year.

“The pot holes are fixed,” he said. “Everything looks good.”

Owen Monaghan, deputy inspector at the 109th Precinct, and Community Police Officer Frank Deveraux said everything is on schedule and they anticipate a large number of entries.

The 12th Annual Skaggs-Walsh 5K road race is run in conjunction with the Half Marathon, which has been selected as part of the New York Roadrunners Grand Prix series where points are earned for the top men, while the Skaggs-Walsh 5K is a points race for the top women.

The College Point Board of Trade is awarding two $250 scholarships for the first full-time male and female students who reside in College Point or Malba who finish the 5K run and $2,000 in prize money will be given to the top three male and female finishers of the Half Marathon.

National Sporting goods P.a. will have a sale and exhibit of running shoes and clothes at the event.

Spectators are encouraged to support the runners along the route by handing out water, oranges, bananas or just cheering the runners along.

Free refreshments for all participants will be provided courtesy of Target Stores, BJ’s Stores, Jetro Cash and Carry and Coca-Cola.

Entry blanks can be picked up at General Fitness Center in College Point, Greenpoint Savings Bank, Skaggs-Walsh Fuel Co. in College Point or the NYRRC, located at 9 East 89th St. Runners can also register online at www.nyrrc.org

For further information on the race call 762-1519 or (917) 327-0880.

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