FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Kalan, Los Angeles Marathon
Laurence Cohen, TLC MediaWorks
Defending Champions Headline Top International Field at
City of Los Angeles Marathon
Over $400,000 Prize Purse includes $100,000 Banco Popular Challenge
and U.S. and California Purse
LOS ANGELES - (March 9, 2006) - With a professional field of almost 60
international athletes competing for a portion of the $417,600 prize purse
(the largest in the race's history) the City of Los Angeles Marathon
presented by Honda on Sunday, March 19, 2006 looks to be the most
competitive in its 21-year history.
The field will be led by defending champions Mark Saina from Kenya and
Lyubov Denisova from Russia who will be returning for a thrilling rematch in
the Banco Popular Challenge. In 2005, Saina passed Denisova in the 26th mile
to win his first major marathon in 2:09:35 after he made up the 15:50 head
start awarded the women as part of "The Challenge." Denisova handily won the
women's division and set the course record of 2:26:11. At stake this year is
$100,000 for the Banco Popular Challenge winner, up from $75,000 in 2005 and
$50,000 in its inaugural year 2004. The time differential for 2006 will be
announced at a press conference at 11:00am on Friday, March 17.
Other leading candidates in the men's field are Kenyans Robert Kiprotich
Cheruiyot, Laban Kipkemboi and Benson Cherono. Cheruiyot has a personal best
of 2:08:13 from the 2003 Amsterdam Marathon and finished third in last May's
Prague International Marathon. Cherono finished third at both the 2005
B.A.A. Boston Marathon and the Coca-Cola Zero Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, where
he set his personal best of 2:10:01. Kipkemboi made his debut at the 2002
New York City Marathon where he ran the eighth fastest time on the course in
2:08:39 and he placed third in the 2005 L.A. Marathon. Kipkemboi is also the
course record holder at the B.A.A. Boston Half Marathon.
A stellar group of female athletes will be competing against the men for the
$100,000 bonus in the Banco Popular Challenge. The field is led by Ethiopian
Gete Wami, who has won Olympic medals at 5000 meters (bronze, 2000) and
10,000 meters, (bronze, 1996; silver, 2000) and is the Ethiopian marathon
record holder (2:22:19, Amsterdam 2002). Also joining the field is Russian
Lidiya Grigoryeva, primarily a 10,000 meter runner whose first major
marathon breakthrough came when she won the 2005 Paris Marathon in 2:27:01,
and Mexican Madai Perez, winner of the 2004 Celestial Seasonings Bolder
Boulder 10K. Perez recently set her personal marathon best of 2:26:50 at the
2005 World Championships in Helsinki.
Also back for 2006 is Ukrainian Tatyana Pozdnyakova, L.A. Marathon winner in
2003-04 and "The Challenge" champion in its first year. The L.A. Marathon
women's champion has been either Pozdnyakova or Denisova for the past four
years (Denisova won in 2002 and 2005).
Pozdnyakova, who turned 51 on March 4, has announced that she will retire
after the 2006 L.A. Marathon. "During the life of a runner there is a point
in time when a person needs to decide when to retire. For me, Los Angeles is
not just a marathon, but also my favorite among the marathons. Therefore,
Los Angeles this year is going to be the last marathon in my career."
Pozdnyakova currently holds the world record for the marathon for the 45-49
and 50-54 age groups at 2:29:00 and 2:31:05, respectively.
In total, the City of Los Angeles Marathon will be offering a prize purse of
$417,600. The first person to cross the finish line will receive the
$100,000 Banco Popular Challenge bonus as well as a $35,000 cash prize and a
Honda Accord EX-V6 for being first in his or her division, making this the
largest guaranteed first place payout in the United States. A total of
$23,000 will also be available to the top U.S. and Californian finishers. A
complete listing of the 2006 professional athlete field is available at:
About the City of Los Angeles Marathon
The 21st running of the City of Los Angeles Marathon presented by Honda will
take place the weekend of March 17-19, with the run beginning at 8:15am
Sunday, March 19, 2006. The weekend's activities include the two-day Emerald
Nuts Quality of Life Expo taking place on March 17-18 at the Los Angeles
Convention Center, the Acura L.A. Bike Tour and the Emerald Nuts 5K
Run/Walk. Sponsors of the event include Acura, American Airlines, Banco
Popular, Emerald Premium Snacks, NBC 4, Saucony and Telemundo 52. The race
will be broadcast live on NBC 4 from 7:30am to 11:00am, on Telemundo 52 from
7:30am to 11:30am and on the worldwide web at NBC4.tv.
The Los Angeles Marathon is the largest marathon held in California, the
fourth largest in the country and the seventh largest in the world. It is
expected to draw more than 25,000 runners from 50 states and 100 countries.
In total, event day will include more than 45,000 participants for the 26.2
mile run, the Acura L.A. Bike Tour and the Emerald Nuts 5K Run/Walk.