FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Winitz
Win-It!z Sports Public Relations
Tel: (650) 948-0618
KAISER PERMANENTE RENEWS TITLE SPONSORSHIP OF NAPA VALLEY MARATHON
Marathon Extends Time for Finishers,
Announces Appearance of Joan Benoit Samuelson
NAPA, Calif. - August 30, 2007 - According to the proverb, the number
"three" is a charm. Three fortunate developments transpired for the
Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon this month which will bolster the
30th annual running of the race on March 2, 2008.
Charm #1: Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers renewed their title
sponsorship with the 26.2-mile road race, extending the partnership for
another three years, through 2010.
Charm #2: Napa County provided approval for the marathon to extend its
finishing time limit for participants an extra 30 minutes, from 5-1/2
hours to 6 hours.
Charm #3: The race successfully recruited legendary marathon runner Joan
Benoit Samuelson as a special guest for next year's race.
"We're thrilled that Kaiser Permanente has made the commitment to sponsor
the marathon for three additional years," said Rich Benyo, who co-directs
the marathon with David Hill. "Besides contributing to the financial
stability of our race, the fit between Kaiser Permanente's Thrive program
and our personally motivated marathoners is a natural fit."
The Kaiser Permanente Thrive campaign promotes and helps its members to
get and stay healthy throughout their lives by taking an active role in
partnership with their health care provider. Exercise, healthy eating
habits, and good health choices are important components of the Thrive
"Kaiser Permanente physicians, nurses, and physical therapists have
provided medical support for the Napa Valley Marathon for many years,"
said Dr. James Cotter, the physician in charge of Kaiser Permanente's
Napa Medical Offices. "Many of our physicians, staff, and members have
run in the marathon. A marathon requires determination and dedication to
health and fitness. Our sponsorship of this outstanding event exemplifies
our commitment to the health of our members and our community."
Now, slower runners can enjoy healthy participation in the Napa Valley
Marathon. The extension of the finishing time cutoff to 6 hours, when the
marathon course will close, allows the approximately 2,000-participant
race to accommodate runners who otherwise might not enter. Benyo said
that a "fair number of marathoners have made the Napa Valley Marathon an
annual ritual of spring."
"But these runners are aging, or are running for other reasons such as
for charity fund raising, rather than for fast times," Benyo explained.
"An extra 30 minutes to finish means a lot to them."
Following the trend of other marathons, the median finishing time for
runners at the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon have slowed over
the years. The median times at the 2007 Napa Valley Marathon were 4 hours
and 1 minute for men and 4:19 for women. The USA Track & Field certified
(for distance) Napa Valley Marathon course along the Silverado Trail from
Calistoga to Napa is relatively fast.
"As new, less competitive runners have streamed into the marathon over
the past ten years, marathon median times are noticeably slower compared
to 25 to 30 years ago," said Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Director. "As
a result, it makes logical sense for the Napa Valley Marathon to keep its
course open longer."
Statistics compiled by the Running USA Road Running Information Center
show that although there were an estimated 410,000 finishers in U.S.
marathons in 2006 compared to 143,000 finishers in 1980, median finishing
times in U.S. marathons slowed -- men from 3:32:17 (in 1980) to 4:15:34
(2006) and women from 4:03:39 (1980) to 4:46:40 (2006). The median age of
these finishers has also increased -- men from age 34 (1980) to age 40
(2006) and women from age 31 (1980) to age 35 (2006).
Regardless of talent or speed, many runners will jump at the opportunity
to meet 1984 women's Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit
Samuelson, an acknowledged pioneer and stateswoman in long distance
running. Benoit Samuelson will deliver the keynote address during the
2008 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon weekend, on Saturday, March
1, 2008 at the event's Marathon College. The Marathon College is an
innovative speaker/seminar program that includes a "faculty" composed of
respected running authorities and celebrity runners. It is free for the
general public, and takes place at the Marriott Hotel & Spa, the race
headquarters for the weekend.
Benoit Samuelson not only won the gold medal at the inaugural women's
Olympic marathon at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; she is the
only American woman to win a gold medal in an Olympic Games marathon. The
following year, Benoit Samuelson set a U.S. record of 2:21:21 at the
Chicago Marathon, a mark that stood for nearly 18 years until it was
eclipsed by Deena Kastor. Among many other accomplishments, she also won
the Boston Marathon in 1978 and 1983. Benoit Samuelson is the founder and
chair of the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
The 10-year-old race draws over 5,000 runners from all parts of the U.S.
and elite athletes from around the world.
As a masters competitor, Benoit Samuelson, who turned 50 this year on May
17, is still a highly visible, active athlete. In fact, the resident of
Freeport, Maine will return to the Boston Marathon seven weeks after the
2008 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon to compete in her seventh
consecutive USA Women's Olympic Marathon Trials race. Instead of
competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, however, Benoit Samuelson
will aim for a sub-3 hour finish.
There's that number three again.
"Joanie is definitely a charm. I can't think of a better ambassador of
running and motivational speaker for our 30th anniversary race," said
Benyo, a former executive editor of Runner's World magazine who serves as
co-publisher/editor of Marathon & Beyond magazine when he's not directing
the Napa Valley Marathon. "She's a magnet for runners of all ages,
shapes, and abilities who just want to spend a single moment, or an hour,
in her magical presence."
Joan Benoit Samuelson's keynote address at the 2008 Kaiser Permanente
Napa Valley Marathon is sponsored by Calistoga Mineral Water Company, a
race sponsor since 1980.