FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ELITE FIELD SEES POTENTIAL FOR A
FAST RACE AT THE 2009
LOS ANGELES MARATHON
LOS ANGELES, California, May 23, 2009 – Elite marathon runners are always
aware of their standing during a race, who is in front of them and who is
behind. In Monday's Los Angeles Marathon, the unique challenge means that
the leading women also need to know where the leading men are.
"There is big pressure on women knowing that a big group of elite runners
are behind them," said Romania Nuta Olaru through an enterpreter, at a
Saturday news conference, "chasing them, like lions go in Kenya."
In fact the top elite men in the Memorial Day field are from Kenya and
Ethiopia. The fastest time in the field belongs to Ethiopian Tariku Tufar,
who has made his first-ever trip to Los Angeles. "I think this very big
fight between men and women is good," he said through an enterpreter.
"Woman is thinking, man is coming from behind; Man is thinking to catch the
The winner of the Challenge will win a $100,000 bonus on top of the $20,000
first-place prize (plus a Honda Accord EX-L), with the official handicap
announced at the event. The women will start exactly 16 minutes and 57
seconds ahead of the men's elite field on Monday.
That didn't faze the men, who are looking for a fast race. "If everything
goes very well with the weather, we hope to break the course record," said
Kenya's Laban Kipkemboi, who finished third in the 2005 and second in the
2006 Los Angeles Marathon, on this same course. The record time is 2:08:40
set by Kenyan Benson Cherono in 2006.
Olaru and Russian marathoners Tatiana Petrova and Lyubov Morgunova throught
the winning women's time will be in the 2:26-2:27 range. Both Russians
will be trying to post times that would earn a selection to the National
team for the IAAF World Track & Field Championships marathon to be held in
Berlin, Germany in August.
Petrova comes into the race having won a silver medal in the 2007 World
Track & Field Championships 3,000-meter Steeplechase and placed fourth in
that race in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Through an
enterpreter, she noted that "Since a young age, I love the marathon and
long-distance running. The steeplechase is something I decided to do, and I
got good at it, but it's not where my heart is. My heart is with the
But, she added, with a smile, "The reason I came here is to see Hollywood."
Olaru will be running her fourth Los Angeles Marathon, having finished
second in 2001 and 2001 and fourth in 2006 on the present route. "Knowing
this course from the past years," she said, "it's an advantage to be fast
in the beginning, but there it is also a bit tricky. You have to be
conservative and be ready for second part when the hills start coming; it
has to be integrated."
Another Los Angeles Marathon veteran, Kipkemboi, was clear about his goals:
"In 2005 I was here and got third place," he said. "In 2006 I was second
place. In 2007, I did not come. So now, I hope to win this race. I hope the
course is still the same; I think the weather is very, very good."
That could mean a fast race ... and more pressure on the women's field.
Noted Kipkemboi, "I say this is a good challenge for us to make is run