FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES MARATHON CHALLENGE
PITS MEN AND WOMEN IN RACE TO THE FINISH
FOR A $100,000 PRIZE
LOS ANGELES, California, May 19, 2009 – The debate over whether men or
women are better in anything has been going on, unresolved, since
prehistoric times. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, someone will resolve
the issue and win $100,000 in the process.
That's because the Los Angeles Marathon has again issued, for the sixth
consecutive year, its unique "Challenge" in which the first person – man or
woman – to cross the finish line will win a bonus of $100,000. That's in
addition to the $20,000 first prize and a Honda Accord EX-L awarded to the
winner of both the men's and women's individual race.
"It's a unique feature of the Los Angeles Marathon," noted race president
Russ Pillar. "Instead of having two separate and unrelated races for the
men's and women's elite fields, the Challenge brings them together in a
single run to the finish along our 26.2-mile course."
Created in advance of the 2004 race, the Challenge provides a handicap for
the women's field, which starts ahead of the men in a
statistically-determined interval devised by RunningUSA.org chief Basil
Honikman and running commentator Toni Reavis.
For 2009, the differential is being calculated by averaging the difference
between the top seven men's and women's personal records. That is, the time
difference between the lifetime-best mark of the man with the best time in
the field and the woman with the best lifetime mark is calculated, and
averaged with the differences calculated for the second-best, third-best,
fourth-best, fifth-best, sixth-best and seventh-best men and women who will
actually run the race.
As Reavis points out, "until all 14 of those athletes have arrived [in Los
Angeles for the race], we can't say for certain what the 2009 differential
will be since we are basing it on them specifically." Based on the
projected fields, the 2009 head-start for the women will be in the
The women have won three of the first five Challenges, with three of the
five Challenge titles decided by less than one minute:
>> 2004 ($50,000): With a 20:30 handicap, Tatyana Pozdniakova (Russia,
2:30:17) finished ahead of David Kirui (Kenya, 2:13:41) by 3:54.
>> 2005 ($75,000): Despite a 15:50 handicap, Mark Saina (Kenya, 2:09:35)
finished ahead of Lyubov Denisova (Russia, 2:26:11) by 0:46.
>> 2006 ($100,000): With a 16:46 handicap, Lidiya Grigoryeva (Russia,
2:25:10) finished ahead of Benson Cherono (Kenya, 2:08:40) by 0:16.
>> 2007 ($100,000): Despite a 19:51 handicap, Fred Mogaka (Kenya, 2:17:14)
finished ahead of Ramilia Burangulova (Russia, 2:37:54) by 0:49.
>> 2008 ($100,000): With a 19:38 handicap, Tatyana Aryasova (Russia,
2:29:09) finished ahead of Laban Moiben (Kenya, 2:13:50) by 4:19.
The two closest races came in 2005 and 2006, when the Marathon was run on
the same course as will be used in 2009. Neither gender has won two
Challenges in a row.
The $100,000 Challenge bonus will move Monday's first finisher into a
higher tax bracket, with the total value of the Challenge and the
first-place prizes at $148,705 including the suggested manufacturer's
retail price of the Honda Accord. With additional bonuses for time, the
total could rise considerably higher: a race record (or close to it) for
the men would be worth an additional $40,000 for a sub-2:09:00 performance,
while a new women's record (or close to it) would earn $30,000 for a
sub-2:26:00 performance, or $40,000 for a sub-2:25:00 final time.
The actual handicap to be used for the 2009 race will be announced on
Saturday during the news conference for the elite-athlete field, which will
be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center room 301A (above the South
Hall), beginning at noon.