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Half Marathon Ready to Roll

With runners from as far as Ethiopia racing alongside Fairfield County entrants, the 30th annual Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half-Marathon is one of the more interesting and anticipated races in the state. With only days to go before Sunday's race, organizers announced it has already reached its 4,600-runner limit for the 13.1 mile race.

This will be the largest field in the race's history. It will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Fairfield Beach Road. Runners are asked to park at the Metro North Train station and arrive by 7:30 a.m. to be shuttled to the race.

The races' male and female winners from last year (Worku Beyi and Buzunesh Debi, both of Ethiopia), will be returning to defend their titles.

The men's field is expected to be won by one of last year's top three finishers, Ethiopians Beyi, Ketema Nigusse and Fekadu Lemma. Beyi finished with a time of 1:04:11 over Niguesse's 1:04:12, just barely beating him. Tom Harding of Westport, who has won the race in the past, is expected to be the top local finisher.

On the women's side Ethiopians and Kenyans should lead the pack. Debi returns along with countrywomen Alemtehay Misganaw, who finished second in 2005, and Ataleh Asfaw, who should both contend. Kenya's Salome Kosgei and Anzhelika Averkova and American Renae Cicchinelli of Florida will also be in the front of the pack.

Last year nearly $350,000 was raised for local charities. The race organization is led by retired Fire Capt. Steve Lobdell, with event coordinator John Bysiewicz. Charities it supports include the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation, Fairfield YMCA and Fairfield Firefighters Benevolent Association. The race begins on Fairfield Beach Road and winds up back at Jennings Beach.

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