FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elite wheelers hopeful of fast times on Sunday
Three prior L.A. champions forecast Sunday's race
LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2011 – Three prior wheelchair winners of the Honda
LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss are looking forward to substantial
challenges during Sunday's race, both from the competition and from the
"It is a great honor to compete with and against Saul Mendoza and Krige
Schabort," noted 2009 champion Aaron Gordian of Mexico, speaking through an
interpreter, at a morning news conference at Dodger Stadium. "I am
"I know it is a very challenging course. They have some hills and pretty
steep downhills and it's very dangerous. In Mexico, I prepared very well
for going up hills and chasing after cars to prepare myself. Here in L.A.
particularly, there is a great challenge and I look forward to coming in
first and meeting the great, challenging course."
For two-time defending women's champion Amanda McGrory, the race will be as
much about technique as strategy. "For me it is a challenge both uphill and
downhill," she said. "It's obviously much harder to push up a steep hill
than it is to walk or run up a steep hill, but for coasting downhills, you
have an automatic advantage the heavier you are and I am not a big person.
"On any steep hill, I am at an automatic disadvantage because a lot of the
other women, anyone who is heavier than I am, is coasting five, six, 10
miles faster than I am. Once you get up to a certain speed your arms simply
can't move that fast any more and you have to let gravity do the work. When
you add rain, especially climbing the hills – we push with friction, it's
rubber-on-rubber friction, from our gloves to our wheels – you get the rain
in there and get water between the rubber, you start slipping around and
you turn into a bloody mess at the end of it."
Shirley Reilly, who won the 2006 Los Angeles race, said that "The beginning
of the race is always challenging because it starts uphill and every uphill
starts with a downhill. We don't get much rest. There are a lot of short,
steep uphills. I consider towards the end – the last six miles – is where
we're flying. Our body gets a little break from climbing all the hills. The
beginning and middle is really challenging."
Like so many wheelchair racers, Gordian is taking strength from a difficult
ride he had, in specific the 2000 edition of the Los Angeles race. "It
rained very hard, and unfortunately I wasn't able to finish the race.
"I ended up in Hollywood with two flat tires and was freezing cold, so I
decided to go into a café. I remember I was sweating and dripping wet, and
I turned around and see a medical team behind me and they came to me and
start taking my vital signs. They took me to the hospital in an ambulance.
"And I said,'wait a minute, what's happening?' I told them to wait one
minute; I wanted to take my coffee, I'm cold. I had the beginnings of
hypothermia so after 2-3 hours in the hospital, I was released. The feeling
that I had was not that I got hypothermia, but I wasn't able to finish the
race because of the two flat tires, and that I couldn't finish my coffee,"
drawing a laugh from those at the news conference.
But he added, "Once again, I'm here and I want to accept the challenge of
racing in the rain. I don't what my time will be or if I'll place in the
money, but I'm here to accept the challenge. I want to confront it and
finish this race tomorrow."