FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Little Rock Parks & Recreation
500 W. Markham
Little Rock, AR 72201
Bill Rodgers Returns To Little Rock Marathon
Little Rock, AR (January 21, 2004) - Bill Rodgers, one the most recognized
distance runners in the world, will return to the Little Rock Marathon on
Sunday, March 7, to defend his 1st place finish in the relay marathon,
according to Greg Hatcher, race chairman.
"After the race last year, Bill asked if he could come back," Hatcher
said. "He had such a good time with the crowd and with his team. He was
sidelined late last year with a stress fracture, but plans to be in Little
Rock for the entire weekend to not only run the relay portion to the
marathon, but to give training tips during the marathon expo and encourage
athletes at every level to train for an event like the Little Rock
Marathon. I think his participation in our race shows that the running
community is behind this marathon and supports our goal to make the Little
Rock Marathon a premier event each year."
Rodgers hails from a small community outside of Boston, Mass. He has been
nicknamed "Boston Billy" and is the only runner to have won the
prestigious Boston and New York City marathons four times each. His wins
at Boston were between 1975 and 1980 and his wins at New York were from
1976 to 1979. In 1975, 1977 and 1979 he was ranked the #1 marathon runner
in the world and in 1975, Rodgers set an American marathon record of 2
hours, 9 minutes, 27 seconds. He was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic
Team. He holds five current American records and one current world
In a recent telephone interview, Rodgers said he hopes to defend his 1st
place finish in the relay last year. He added that the move from May to
March for the marathon ought to impact everyone's ability to do his or her
best in the marathon, as well.
"I think everyone will be faster because the weather will be so much
cooler in March," he said. "This is a huge plus for the marathoners to
move the date to March. But it will help everyone in the race."
And for anyone out there who's had to battle injuries in the face of
training for this marathon, Rodgers can certainly relate. On Aug. 22 of
last year, while doing an 8-mile run on Nantucket Island off the coast of
Massachusetts, the tibia in his right leg snapped in half. Rodgers said he
was very dehydrated at the time, and these kinds of fractures often occur
during high heat and high humidity. He spent two and a half months with
his leg in a cast and on crutches. Then he began walking and then running
some in December.
"I just did my longest run, 10 miles, this past weekend ... and the leg is
healing well," he said. The key now is to rebuild muscle strength and
cardio-vascular ability. And he's continuing his rehabilitation therapy.
When asked what else might have contributed to the scenario for the injury
to his leg, he said, "I've run for 38 years ... probably 120,000 miles ...
so that's a lot of running for the leg to take." And he added that his
right leg is the stronger of the two and so it was taking more of the
impact when he was running the day his injury occurred.
To those folks out there training for the Little Rock Marathon who are
battling similar injuries, he said, "I would encourage them very much to
focus on how to overcome that injury ... and work on rehabbing the
muscles. The key is to find good medical support." In addition, he said,
it's important to be steady with the training and to seek out real
expertise when it comes to buying and wearing the proper shoes. "You can
always make a comeback," he said with enthusiasm.
When asked what stands out about his experience at the Little Rock
Marathon last year, Rodgers said he was impressed with the start of the
race; the sight of the runners coming down Main Street in front of the
state Capitol was exciting.
"I think every city needs a marathon because a marathon is a kind of
mythological sport with some kind of power to it," he added. To run a
marathon is to change your life, and that's why marathons are such special
events for cities to develop and promote.
"It's a real significant achievement" for the individual and for the city,
he said of the Little Rock Marathon. When a city hosts a marathon, this is
a sign that there's a great deal of support for people to get fit and
healthy. And there's the spin-off effect of the marathon; hosting a
marathon serves to promote other races in the area and to attract more
people to the sport of running.
Rodgers will be on hand at the expo Saturday, March 6, to sign and sell
his book, "The Idiot's Guide to Running," and to dispense more wisdom in
person. His prediction for the Little Rock Marathon this year? ""I think
the race will be stronger than ever."
The 2004 Little Rock Marathon begins Sunday, March 7 at 8 a.m. The
Marathon is open to all athletes who can complete the course in less than
eight hours. The race consists of the marathon with wheelchair, running
and walking divisions; Half Marathon (13.1 miles); 4-Person Relay Marathon
(4 legs of just over 6.1 miles), the Little Rockers Kids Marathon and a
family 5K Fun Run/Walk.
"There will be plenty of surprises along the course to keep our runners
motivated," said Stacy Majors, race entertainment chair, "We're hoping for
even more community involvement in the Little Rock Line Up with civic
groups, neighbors, friends and family lining the 26.2-mile course. We will
be awarding groups for their efforts at the Little Rock Marathon Awards
Ceremony. Participants will vote on the most memorable groups along the
route. We earned rave reviews from last year's marathoner because of crowd
support and we want to keep the marathon spirit going."
For information go to www.littlerockmarathon.com or call 501-371-4770.
Registration is $65 and can be completed online. Mail-in entries will be
accepted until Feb. 28, 2004. In addition, participants may register
during race weekend at the expo.
The Little Rock Marathon, a race for every pace, is presented by the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and sponsored in part by the Little Rock
Convention & Visitors Bureau, Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics, St. Vincent
Health System, Media One Communications, Black Swan Winery, Magna 4
Printing, Clear Mountain Water, and Diamond Bear Brewery. For further
race details, registration and volunteer
participation please visit www.littlerockmarathon.com.
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