Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ultra turnout for Marathon

'Ultra' turnout expected for marathon Tuesday, February 28, 2006 1:14 AM PST

From Register Staff

Since its first running in 1979, the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathonhas largely built its popularity and award-winning reputation on oneunwavering tenet, and on a single, pure, and simple fact. The 2,300 entrantswho will line up for the 28th annual marathon on Sunday, March 5 are fullyexpecting the event to once again deliver on its reputation as the "bestlittle road race in the west," a distinction that the marathon's organizersdon't take for granted, but insist upon.Plus, the sellout crowd of marathoners, many of them first timers in therace, will savor a certain, defining trait of the event that requires noorchestration: The 26.2-mile race course traverses one of the world's mostspectacularly majestic wine growing regions in the world.These two acclaims — organizational detail and unparalleled scenery — haveprompted Runner's World magazine to select the Napa Valley Marathon as oneof the top 20 marathons in America and Competitor magazine to name the racethe best rural marathon in the nation."I'm excited about Napa," said Alex Tilson, an elite entrant and a firsttimer at Napa. "I heard that it's a beautiful course that's fast and blessedwith historically good weather."Tilson, 35, of Burlingame, owns a marathon best of 2 hours, 21 minutes, and18 seconds — making him a top contender in the men's race.His claim to fame, however, comes as an ultramarathon competitor. In 2002,Tilson set a U.S. record for 50 kilometers (31 miles) on the roads. His 50Ktime of 2:51:48 eclipsed the previous official road record, which had stoodfor over 20 years, by more than eight minutes.Ultra standout Brian Purcell, 49, of Sebastopol, will compete in the NVM forthe third time. Purcell is an eight-time veteran and 1988 champion of theWestern States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Entrants Rae Clark (54, Auburn), SeanCrom (50, Reno, Nev.), and Helen Klein (83, Rancho Cordova) all havereceived annual Ultrarunner of the Year awards from USA Track & Field.Rich Benyo, who co-directs the Napa Valley Marathon and edits Marathon &Beyond magazine, believes that some ultrarunners are drawn to the Napa racebecause it shares similarities with ultras. Not in distance, but in its"mellow, sort of retro-like way marathons used to be," Benyo said.Notable ultramarathon athletes who have won at Napa include multiple WesternStates 100 champion Ann Trason (1988 and 1999) and Kathy D'Onofrio Wood(1985). Gard Leighton, who co-directs the KPNVM with Benyo and David Hill,has run in over 200 ultramarathons and holds national age-group records.Duncan Larkin, 33, of Exton, PA., is also expected to contend for the men'soverall win. Larkin finished sixth in last year's race, but since then hasimproved his personal best to 2:32:32.In the women's race, 36-year-old Mary Coordt of Elk Grove will defend her2005 title. Coordt easily topped last year's women's field in 2:51:50.Coordt also won the NVM in 1997. If Coordt is successful, she will join twoother athletes who have won the race three times: David Chairez (1984, '86,'89) and Christine Iwahashi (1986, '87, '90).Among veteran participants, 65-year-old Herb Phillips will reach for anothersuperb performance at the NVM. Phillips, who resides in Burnaby (BritishColumbia), Canada, is a frequent competitor at the race, and has run morethan 50 sub-three-hour marathons since turning 50. In 2004, Phillips ran a2:47:28 marathon, an unofficial world's best for 63-year-old men. Afterturning 65 last year, he celebrated by scoring a 2:52:43 at last October'sRoyal Victoria Marathon.Many interesting and inspiring stories come from all ranks of this year'smarathon field. For example, Scott Beasley, 35, of Travis Air Force Base,trained for last year's KPNVM while stationed in Thailand providing tsunamirelief. Working 12-hour days, he did his running in a five-story parkinggarage.Kevin Corbett, 36, of Danville, will run his first-ever marathon at Napa tocelebrate his one-year anniversary of successfully beating cancer.Kathryn Bozzini, 46, of Lafayette, a mother of eight children, ages 9 to 20,will make Napa her 19th marathon.Darryl Beardall, 69, of Santa Rosa, enters the KPNVM having completed over200 marathons with a personal best of 2:28. Beardall, who began running inthe 1950s, counts two victories in the rugged Dipsea trail race over Mt.Tamalpais among his 300 race wins and 300,000 training miles.Ann Thrupp, 48, of El Cerrito, helped pioneer women's distance running atStanford University, where she was a three-time All-American from 1975-1980.Now, she is aiming for a 3-hour, 40-minute finish at this year's marathon.Dr. Kirk Pappas, 44, of Santa Rosa, specializes in physical medicine andrehabilitation at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center. He hascompleted 26 marathons."I'm very honored to be in my sixth Napa Valley Marathon this year," saidPappas, who treats people with muscular skeletal problems. "I'm equallyproud that it's the first sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. Being able toimprove what you have is why I run."The 2006 edition of the KPNVM has again been selected by the Road RunnersClub of America as its National Marathon Championship — a designation it hasreceived since 1998. Runners may also choose the companion Kiwanis 5K Run,which starts and finishes at Vintage High School on marathon morning.Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon weekend includes a sports and fitnessexpo, Saturday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Napa Valley MarriottHotel & Spa. Also on slate is the marathon's popular marathon college, aninnovative speaker/seminar program that includes a "faculty" composed ofrespected running authorities and celebrity runners.The faculty for the 2006 marathon college includes Joe Henderson (author of25 books on running and columnist for Marathon & Beyond), Dick Beardsley(Napa Valley Marathon course record-holder, fourth fastest Americanmarathoner of all time, and author of Staying The Course), Helen Klein(world and American age-group record-holder at distances from the 5K to 100miles), John Keston (world and American age-group record-holder at distancesfrom the mile to the marathon), Roger Robinson (former world's best mastersrunner and author), Kathrine Switzer (women's running pioneer), Amby Burfoot(executive editor of Runner's World), Bee McLeod (president of the RoadRunners Club of America), and Mary Coordt (defending Napa Valley Marathonchampion and sports nutrition expert).The marathon starts on Sunday, March 5 at 7 a.m. in Calistoga on theSilverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The race finishes atVintage High School in Napa. Top runners are expected to reach the finishbetween 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. Runners will receive official times up until12:30 p.m. when the course closes.Runners can register for the marathon online or download an entry form atwww.napavalleymarathon.org.

Alternatively, contact the race via e-mail atnvm@napanet.net or by calling 255-2609. The registration fee for the race is$100. There is no race-day registration.

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