FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES MARATHON PRESIDENT PILLAR:
"WE ARE PREPARED FOR A FANTASTIC EVENT ON MONDAY"
LOS ANGELES, California, May 22, 2009 – "We're looking forward to a better
runner and participant event than we have ever seen before in the city of
Los Angeles. As far as Frank McCourt and I are concerned, and I know I
speak for my fellow colleagues at the Marathon, We have even grander plans
for future events."
That's Russ Pillar, president of the Los Angeles Marathon, sharing his
perspective on the upcoming Memorial Day race with reporters during a news
conference Friday afternoon at the site of the Run/Ex/09 exposition at the
Los Angeles Convention Center.
Asked about his impressions, having taken control of the event with only
seven months to go, he said, "I like to joke and it’s only halfway joking,
that I thought this was a 26.2-mile road race, but what instead it is
actually is a political asset that happens to be run in shorts and a
T-shirt. I think that was a wake-up call for me as my first experience
dealing with an asset where there were so many stakeholders who really had
a passionate point of view on what they thought was best for the event. And
we welcomed that at the Marathon."
Pillar noted that the course change, from the point-to-point route used in
2007 and 2008 back to the 2006 course, came from the running community.
"When we spent time with the runners, and actually formed that we call a
Runner's Advisory Council that's headed by one of the legacy runners – one
of the 209 who have run all 23 Los Angeles Marathons – we heard that they
didn't like the course that it had been moved to. And when we canvassed the
wider running community, we also heard that this loop course that we're
running this year happened to be a favorite of all possible options that
they had been given in the past. It happens, not coincidentally, to be the
course on which the fastest times in the Los Angeles Marathon had been run.
So the move back to the loop course was an effort on our behalf to listen
to the running community and in the absence of something of which we could
all be excited and proud really created the chance to move to a route that
made some sense for the runners."
Improving the runner experience is a key goal of the Marathon and Pillar
pointed with pride to the elite field and the unique Los Angeles Marathon
Challenge. "I personally think this is the finest elite field we've ever
been able to attract to the Los Angeles Marathon. Certainly if you look at
some of the accomplishments of some of these racers, they are, by any
stretch of the imagination, world-class athletes." Speaking of the
Challenge, where the women's elite field is given a handicap and the first
person – male or female – to cross the finish line earns a $100,000 bonus,
Pillar said "It creates an extra, added layer of excitement. Your objective
is not only to be the first male finisher, but to catch the woman who is up
ahead of you, and you can see her right in front of you. If you can catch
her, that's worth $100,000 to you. This is a significant incentive to
create a great race. You’re taking about strides, after 26.2 miles of
five-minute, plus or minus, mile races."
Pillar was also enthused about new, environmental initiatives in the race,
pointing out that "we believe we have an obligation to use this event not
only to provide an opportunity for participants to improve their own lives,
but also to send a message about what's important in our own community. And
so one of the first initiatives that we launched at the Marathon under our
new ownership is what we're calling a greener race. Continuing over time to
increase the green footprint, or to decrease the non-green footprint of the
race is one of the core tenets as we continue to connect communities in the
Los Angeles Marathon." simply eliminating the traditional plastic "goody
bag" and the dozens of paper coupons instantly removed tens of thousands of
waste; moreover, the hundreds of thousands of wax-paper cups used by
runners during the race will be collected and used to create new energy.
Looking to the future, Pillar was clear that the Marathon will likely not
repeat this year's May date. "We’re hopeful it will be the last the last
[Los Angeles] Marathon to be run in May, although there were a variety of
constituencies, including elected officials, who have something to say
about that. We think that the March date, specifically a Sunday in March,
will create an environment that we can create a better experience for all
participants. And at the end of the day, that’s what this is about."
And he was equally enthusiastic about a contemplated new course for the
event, stating that "We have put a lot of thought into starting and
finishing the race in a lot of places in Los Angeles and the race course is
one of those talismans that we revisit with the powers that be from time to
time. At this point, all I can say is we look forward to creating a course
as soon as possible that everybody who participates in the Los Angeles
Marathon can be proud of. We think that this is a very good course that
people will run some great races on, but we don't think this course
highlights the best of what Los Angeles has to offer and over time and we
hope in time for next year, we have the ability to have a course that
everybody around the world can look and say, "Wow, I want to come to Los
Angeles and run that race, because that looks like fun."What would such a
course look like? "It would probably be in multiple cities."
For 2009, Pillar said registrations for the Marathon itself are at the
25,000 mark, with registration continuing through the two-day Run/Ex/09
show that opens Saturday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. That does
not include the thousands of additional participants who will ride in the
ACURA LA Bike Tour or in the LA 5K Run/Walk.
In short, said Pillar, "We are prepared for a fantastic event on Monday."