FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elite men's field excited to chase women elites
in $100,000 Marathon Challenge
Japans Eri Okubo shares experience of tragic earthquake with reporters
LOS ANGELES, March 18, 2011 – One of the unique aspects of the Honda LA
Marathon presented by K-Swiss is the "Challenge," pitting the men's and
women's elite fields in a race to the finish for a $100,000 bonus.
Now in its seventh year, the Challenge was of high interest to the men's
and women's elite fields at a news conference on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
"For Sunday, my focus is just to chase the women," said Kenya's Nicolas
Kamakya, who has the fourth fastest time in the field – 2:08:42 – coming
into this year's race. But two-time defending champion Wesley Korir, also
from Kenya, was more philosophical. "I'm here to do the best I can,
forgetting about all that is at stake. Last year we were hoping for a fast
time, but the race became more tactical – rather than just running fast –
but I hope this year we'll be able to run. I've come prepared to run a fast
The Challenge provides the women's elite field with a head start, with the
exact time calculated by an average of the lifetime bests of the leading
runners in both the men's and women's elite fields. For the 2011 race, the
women will start 17:03 before the men. In the six previous Challenges, the
women have won in each even-numbered year and the men have won in each
odd-numbered year, with the series at three wins apiece.
Japanese marathoner Eri Okubo shared her experience in coming over from
Japan to run in Los Angeles after the Nagoya Women's Marathon was cancelled
last week due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit her
"The whole country of Japan is in a sad situation right now," she said
through an interpreter. "I came here, and of course I am interested in
running a good time and getting a record. But my main focus is conveying to
the world and the people of the United States that Japan needs some
support. That is my main objective to be here for this marathon. Although
there was very little time to prepare I am very thankful that everyone was
willing to accept me."
Veteran Russian marathoner Albina Mayorova was also in Japan when the
earthquake struck. "At the beginning I didn't understand what was
happening," she said through an interpreter. "It was on Friday and we had
gone to the store, and we were standing and the floor was shaking. We
almost fell unconscious. What was going on? We went outside and then went
back to the hotel and looked at the TV. Then we knew what happened.
"We didn't know whether the race would happen. We didn't know if we could
get out of the country. We spent three months preparing for the marathon
and I felt sorry for myself because the race was cancelled. We asked Los
Angeles to accept us. We were fortunate and very lucky and the next day we
For American Amy Hastings and Ethiopia's Markos Geneti, Sunday will be
their first marathon and both were cautious in their comments about what
they expect. Hastings likes the Stadium to the Sea course, having come up
to see it twice prior to this week. "It looks really nice and I think it
will be fast and I just want to be in the mix. It is a little bit hilly,
but I actually think that is good for breaking the course up. It's really
beautiful; there's something to see every mile."
Geneti explained that his coach suggested he try the longer distance, after
a sterling career as a track runner, saying "I have a very good interest in
running the marathon. I don't want to say anything before the race, I'll
talk after the finish line."
But the focus will clearly be on Korir, trying to become the first-ever
three-time winner of the race. "This marathon means a lot to me; this is
where my career started," he said. "It has been good to me, and as you can
see, I am the only person who keeps coming back. I want to remember this
marathon for the rest of my life."