FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Winitz
NAPA VALLEY MARATHON: PARTICIPANTS PREPARE FOR PERSONAL QUESTS
NAPA, Calif. - February 23, 2005 - When 2,300 runners line up for the
27th Annual Napa Valley Marathon on Sunday, March 6, 2005, they will
cover 26.2 miles on foot for as many different reasons as the mind can
conjure. The sport of long distance running has changed since the 1970s
and '80s when a large majority of participants entered races as
competitors, intent on beating their rivals or scoring a personal record.
Today's participants in U.S. road races come in all sizes, are just as
likely to be female as male, and their average age is 36.8 years old,
according to data released by USA Track & Field's Road Running
Information Center in 2004. The estimated number of finishers in U.S.
road races jumped from 4.8 million in 1993 to 7.7 million in 2003. Many
of today's runners, however, are inclined to tackle the marathon distance
as a social endeavor, to raise money for charitable causes, for general
fitness, or simply to complete the challenge, rather than record a fast
The Napa Valley Marathon asked this year's entrants to submit stories
describing their reasons for entering the race.
Connie Marion, 41, of Acampo, CA, an elementary school teacher, is
running the NVM to inspire her students. She has the kids running a mile
or two a day until they each complete a total of 26 miles.
Lee Moncton, 51, of Cupertino, CA says he has survived both lymphoma and
Juan Escobedo, 35, of Sebastopol, CA is running with his 60-year-old
mother, Mercedes, who is hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Kathleen Herrera, 36, of Angwin, CA will line up at the start in memory
of her recently deceased mother who ran over 40 marathons, including
ultramarathons. "Her spirit lives on in me," Herrera said.
Mark Smith, 49, of Napa, ran his last marathon 20 years ago at the NVM in
a respectable 2:59:18. He's returning to marathon running at this year's
Michael Griffin, 32, of Santa Rosa, CA started training for the race
after his 8-year-old daughter unexpectedly died last year. "Training for
this marathon has helped me release some of the pain," he said.
Cecilia Joyce, 48, a San Francisco resident, started participating in
marathons and triathlons after a double mastectomy due to breast cancer
Lindsay Carl, 26, of Lompoc, CA grew up in Napa. As a graduate of Vintage
High School, where NVM's finish line is located, she has a special
connection to the race. She feels that it's only appropriate that she
finish her first marathon at her old alma mater.
About 150 participants are running to raise money for leukemia, lymphoma,
and myeloma research as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team
in Training program.
Oakland's Hilary Cooper, 36, claims no responsibility for her marathon
undertaking. "My husband is making me do this," she admitted about Graham
Cooper, 35, who ran his first marathon at age 13 and is also entered.
Top entrants in the 2005 Napa Valley Marathon include a vital mix of
youthful talent and fine competitors in the older ranks. The men's field
includes Chris Lundstrom, 28, who coaches cross country at San Francisco
State University, and owns a marathon best of 2 hours, 18 minutes, and 8
seconds. Richie Boulet, 31, of Oakland, is a sub-four-minute miler and
former All-American at Cal-Berkeley who has a 2:25:46 marathon best. Also
entered are Maine's Byrne Decker (2:22:48) and Matt Pulle (2:29:41) of
The women's field appears wide open. Contenders include Folsom, CA's Rena
Schumann, 43, a veteran of over 100 ultramarathons and three top ten
finishes at the Western States 100 miler. In 2004, Schumann was a member
of the U.S. national team that competed at the 100K World Cup in The
Netherlands. She hopes to improve upon her runner-up performance among
female masters last year.
Among veteran masters runners, Helen Klein will make a third consecutive
appearance. Klein, 82, of Rancho Cordova, CA holds, among many records,
the world's best marathon mark of 4:31:32 for 80 to 84 year-old women.
Neither Canada's Nik Southwell, who topped last year's NVM men's race in
2:28:56, or Erin Moeller of Cedar Rapids, IA, the women's victor in
2:51:07, are expected to defend their titles. The men's course record
(2:16:20) was set by Dick Beardsley in 1987. The women's standard
(2:39:42) was recorded by Diana Fitzpatrick in 1992.
No matter what their motivations or abilities, runners set their sights
on the Napa Valley Marathon because of its reputation as "the best little
marathon in the west." The marathon's beautiful point-to-point course on
the historic Silverado Trail, through the celebrated Napa wine country,
has not changed in the race's 27-year history.
"Our runners tell us that we're very successful with the format that we
have now, so there's no need to change," said race co-director Rich
Benyo. "We're just one of those laid back races that has all the
amenities but reminds you of another era."
Said Joe Henderson, a longtime writer, author of 25 running books, and
advocate for the sport: "I keep coming back to Napa because it stubbornly
remains a boutique race in a marathon world leaning increasingly toward
big-box events. Napa is smallish in size but lacks nothing when it comes
to caring for its runner-customers."
The 2005 Napa Valley Marathon is on schedule to sell out its 2,300 entry
slots approximately a week before race day.
Napa Valley Marathon weekend includes a Sports and Fitness Expo,
Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel
& Spa. Also on slate is the marathon's popular Marathon College, an
innovative speaker/seminar program that includes a "faculty" composed of
respected running authorities and celebrity runners.
The marathon starts on Sunday, March 6 at 7:00 a.m. sharp in Calistoga on
the Silverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The race
finishes at Vintage High School in Napa. Top runners are expected to
reach the finish between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Runners will be scored,
and receive official times, up until 12:30 p.m. when the course closes.
For more information, see the Napa Valley Marathon's web site at
The Napa Valley Marathon appreciates generous sponsor support from
Calistoga Mountain Spring Water, Gatorade, ASICS America Corporation,
Silverado Trail Wineries Association, Marathon & Beyond, Road Runners
Club of America, USA Track & Field, Marathon Photo, Napa Valley Marriott
Hotel & Spa, CBS 5 and UPN Bay Area, GU, KVYN/99.3 The Vine, KVON 1440,
Wines Central, MRC Delivery Solutions, Pacific Union College, Napa
Running Company, and Queen of the Valley Hospital.
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