Marathons

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon Makes U.S. Development Pledge

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - (March 14, 2011) - Officials of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon have announced a major incentive for emerging American elite distance runners and a challenge to event directors of major U.S. distance races to help support the development of U.S. distance runners and to build upon the decade-plus resurgence.

"We want as many American men and women to participate in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston this January 14 and to that end, we will bonus any American $1000 cash for qualifying for the Trials at our race," said Steve Nearman, event director of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 2. "This means sub-1:05:00 for men and sub-1:15:00 for women."

Nearman also announced another initiative, based on an inspiring story brought back from the recent Running USA 2011 conference by American Running Association CEO Dave Watt.

Watt recounted a moment at the conference when Team USA Arizona founder and coach Greg McMillan and his runners took the stage to receive a $25,000 grant from Running USA. McMillan and some of his runners in his emerging program broke into tears of joy at the significance of the grant. Many of the 500 attendees at the awards ceremony also got teary-eyed.

This story so moved officials of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half that they committing $1 per entry to fund an elite training program for the Olympic year 2012. With an expected sellout of more than 6,000 entrants, race officials are hoping their sizable grant will inspire other races to do the same.

"I challenge my friends and fellow event directors to follow suit," stated Nearman, adding that the Wilson Bridge Half already awards U.S.-only prize money. "If Carey Pinkowski of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon could donate $1 per runner, we're talking $45,000-plus. Dave McGillivray at Boston, another $25,000-plus. Mary Wittenberg at New York City, another $50,000-plus. Rick Nealis at Marine Corps, another $30,000-plus. Same with Jim Vandak at the Army Ten-Miler, another $30,000 or so. That's nearly $200,000 right there to support American runners."

Officials also announced the renewal of sponsors National Harbor, Westin National Harbor, R&B Inc., Elizabeth Lucchesi / McEnearney Realtors and Curcio Law Firm.

Like last year, the race will benefit Autism Speaks, Alice Ferguson Foundation, Back on My Feet, Child & Family Network Centers and Washington Area Women's Foundation. The race also announced a commitment to the RunningBrooke Fund, inspired by Brooke Curran who is well into her goal of running a marathon in every State and continent and the five World Marathon Majors.

"I am pleased to announce that the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon has 'laced up their shoes' to become the latest RunningBrooke Sponsor," Curran said. "By supporting the RunningBrooke Fund - committing to $1K a year for the next five years - The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon is underpinning vital Alexandria charities that serve the at-risk in our hometown."

The course begins at the historic Washington home of Mount Vernon, VA, rolls up the George Washington Memorial Parkway and crosses the Potomac over the famous Woodrow Wilson Bridge before finishing at the unique Awakening statue in the resort of National Harbor, MD. For more information, visit wilsonbridgehalf.com and Facebook.

Russian Olympian, Japanese Marathoner Join Honda LA Marathon Field

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LOS ANGELES - (March 15, 2011) - Two professional female marathoners who were scheduled to run in the cancelled Nagoya Women's Marathon are headed to Los Angeles to run in the 26th Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss on Sunday, March 20.

Russian Olympian Albina Mayorova and Japanese marathoner Eri Okubo will compete on the Stadium to the Sea course this Sunday, allowing them to race just a week later than they had planned in Japan.

"When we recognized the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on the running community in Japan, for which the Nagoya Women's Marathon is an important race, we immediately extended an invitation to the elite field to come to Los Angeles," said Nick Curl, LA MARATHON LLC chief operating officer. "Along with our ongoing fundraising efforts for Japan relief, we're delighted to welcome these two marvelous athletes."

Mayorova, 33, took part in the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens, Greece, finishing 40th and has been a top international marathoner for almost a decade, with a best of 2:25:35 set at Chicago in 2003. She could be a strong challenger to race favorite Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Okubo, 27, has a best of 2:35:24 in the marathon, set at the 2010 Nagoya Women's Marathon and is well familiar with the U.S., having trained in Boulder, Colorado in 2003-04. Her last marathon was a sixth-place finish in Honolulu last December.

"These athletes will get a warm welcome here," noted Curl. "We applaud their determination and e ried@hath w@l ins r nd&#;sac&

Seoul International Marathon Ready to Join World's Elite

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The New York City Marathon, one of the most famous and popular races in the world, attracts more than 45,000 runners in the masters category, including 20,000 foreigners.

A U.S. economic think tank says the marathon generates economic effects worth an annual 200 million U.S. dollars, including revenues from flights, hotels, restaurants, souvenir sales and entry fees.

In Korea, the 82nd Dong-A Seoul International Marathon, jointly sponsored by Korea Association of Athletics Federations and The Dong-A Ilbo and slated to open March 20, is also hoped to reap huge economic effects.

The number of foreign competitors has topped 1,000 for the first time at 1,147 from 35 countries, including 451 from Japan, 265 from the U.S., and 207 from China. Though the number of foreigners remains small compared to that of the New York race, the Dong-A marathon spanning the Korean capital of Seoul has started to earn global recognition.

The Dong-A marathon is the best known race of its kind in Korea. Starting in 1931, it was a catalyst for easing the Korean people's anger and sorrow stemming from the yoke of Japanese colonial rule, and has conveyed the dreams and a message of hope to the Korean people.  

The race is also called the birthplace of Korean marathon records as 10 of the country's 28 records in the sport were set there. The 1994 event also introduced for the first time in Korea the masters category that allowed amateurs to join, spearheading a grassroots boom in the marathon.  

The event's venue was permanently changed to Seoul in 2000 from Seoul, Chuncheon in Gangwon Province and Gyeongju in South Gyeongsang Province. The competition has also invited world-renowned runners with times in the range of two hours and four or five minutes, including those from Kenya and Ethiopia.  

Sylvester Teimet of Kenya set a record for Korean marathons last year with a winning time of 2:06:49. The Dong-A Marathon received Korea's first "gold" label certificate from the International Association of Athletics Federations last year and will be gold label this year, too.  

With more than 1,000 foreign runners, the marathon is hoped to join the ranks of prominent global marathons. Marketing efforts will seek to raise the number of foreign runners in the masters category.

For more information on the Seoul International Marathon, go to: http://marathon.donga.com/seoul/international_e1.html

Backbreaking the Record: Marathon Runner Tony Stafford and His Attempt To Shatter a World Record

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BOULDER, COLO. - Kelty, backpack innovator since 1952, will sponsor marathon runner Tony Stafford as he attempts to break the 20-year old world record for running a marathon while carrying a 40-pound pack. Stafford's attempt aims to benefit Outdoor Mindset, a Boulder, Colo.-based non-profit working to unite and inspire those facing neurological challenges.  

Working with Stafford to select and fit a pack that will enable him to reach his goal, Kelty is proud to lend their support to such a worthwhile endeavor while helping to support Outdoor Mindset. Further, Stafford's Kelty pack will be loaded with 40-pounds of non-perishable food to be donated to the Community Action Agency Food Bank, New Mexico's largest.

"When Tony approached us with his idea, we decided right away it was something we wanted to be involved with," said Sue Timbo, marketing director for Kelty. "This is a great opportunity to help a local athlete support a local non-profit. Everybody wins in this situation."

Stafford will make his attempt during the Bataan Memorial Death March, an annual event honoring World War II veterans who served in the Philippines. This year's event is scheduled for March 27 and takes place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The 26.2 mile course will wind its way though the desert where hilly terrain and loose sand will add to the challenge.

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to try and set a world record while drawing much needed attention and funding for Outdoor Mindset," said Stafford. "I'm also looking forward to working with Kelty. Their reputation for creating first-in-class packs gives me confidence that I'll have the equipment I will need to achieve my goal."

The current world record stands at 4hr 42min 44sec and was set in 1991 during the London Marathon. Stafford is on track to set the new record below 4 hours.

Adding to the world record-setting excitement is a second marathoner with a similar goal. England's Lee Riley will also attempt to break the current record by running the London Marathon with a 40-pound pack on April 17, 2011, three weeks after Stafford's attempt.

To learn more about the Bataan Memorial Death March, please visit www.bataanmarch.com. To support Stafford and his fund raising effort for Outdoor Mindset, please visit www.crowdrise.com/bataandeathmarchmarathon.  

KELTY is based in Boulder, Colorado, and uses the natural backdrop of the Rocky Mountains to test, create and continually innovate within their diverse outdoor product families of Backcountry, Trail, Vintage, Lighting, Basecamp and KIDS. Kelty combines the best in new technology with a healthy dose of common sense to create exceptionally made, affordably priced outdoor products. For more information on Kelty, please go to www.kelty.com, or call 800.423.2320.

Record 3,000 Participants for First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay

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SARASOTA, Fla. - A record 3,000 runners and walkers took part in the 6th First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay, a 50 percent increase over 2010. Tampa’s Elias Gonzalez, age 34 and a member of Fit2Run running team, won the men’s title in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 35 seconds and North Port’s Heather Butcher, age 38 and Team New Balance runner, took the women’s title in 1:26:37.

Locally, Team New Balance team members Ricardo (Rich) Lomas of Venice, age 44, took the overall locals male division with a time of 1:15:52 for 3rd among all men, and Rachel Chambers, 38, of Sarasota and Team New Balance took 3rd among all women with a time of 1:30:25.

Race Director Javier Sanchez noted on the event: "It was the perfect day for a race in Sarasota and the new course and relay team option were hugely successful. We are looking forward to an even greater 2012 event on March 11th."

Additional titles and race stats follow. For a complete list of race results, visit www.sarasotahalfmarathon.com

Masters Winners

Women (W): Lauro Barragan, age 43, 1:28:04

Men (M): Guy Schweiwiller, age 44, 1:20:04

Grand Masters Winners

W: Denise Skinner, age 55, 1:35:28

M: Jeff Lessie, age 50, 1:22:43

Relay Team Winners

New to the race this year, the two-person relay team race sold out with 160 total teams and 320 runners. Top finishers included:

Men’s Relay: Florida Feet Elite, 1:28:31

Women’s Relay: Badger Girls, 1:37:56

Co-Ed, Road Rash, 1:31:09

Youngest/Oldest Participants

Spanning 72 years, 10-year old Cory Albrecht finished in 2:40;09 and 82-year old Don Krueger in 3:41:31. For females, Meredith Swift, age 11, finished in 2:20:45 and Eleanor Williams, age 74, finished in 3:23:31.

About U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment Group

U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment Group (USRS), a health and wellness company dedicated to the production of world-class endurance events, offers unparalleled participant sports experiences that showcase host communities and endure a deeply valued local asset through events that are a part of the city’s culture and identity. For each participant, USRS strives to offer events that allow participants of all skill levels the opportunity to improve their physical and mental health and accomplish life-altering goals while having fun. U.S. Road Sports provides sponsors and municipalities highly effective exposure to help maximize their presence and message in the community. In addition to the First Watch Sarasota Half-Marathon & Relay, USRS hosted events include South Florida’s largest road race, the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon®, as well as the Chicago Half-Marathon, Publix Georgia Marathon, 13.1 Marathon® Series and the Publix Escape to Miami Triathlon.