FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Winitz
NAPA VALLEY MARATHON DRAWS NEW WAVE OF RUNNERS
NAPA, Calif. - January 22, 2006 - When 2,300 runners line up for the 28th
Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, scheduled for Sunday,
March 5, 2006, a large number of its participants will do so as neophytes
to the 26.2-mile distance. Although a devoted core of serious marathoners
will seek personal record times on the fast Calistoga-to-Napa course,
many will follow a more basic protocol of simply finishing the race.
The profile of current marathoners is markedly different than their
competitive counterparts of twenty years ago. Today's marathoners -- many
of them first timers -- are just as likely to train for and run the
distance to overcome a personal hurdle, or to benefit others through
charity endeavors, as to defeat their fellow competitors.
"I'm hoping to improve my time," says Allison Hill of Alhambra, Calif.
who has chosen Napa as her second ever marathon, "but that's not the
reason I'm doing it."
Not long ago, the 34-year-old sales representative of natural and organic
products never dreamed of running around the block, let alone the 26.2
miles required for the marathon. "I thought marathoners were a little
crazy," she now admits.
Hill, who stands an even 5-feet tall, weighed 212 pounds and wore size 22
outfits. She was one of about 31 percent of Americans who are obese. Hill
was extremely so. She suffered physically, emotionally, and socially.
Hill had to do something, but she knew that she had a huge hill to
overcome. In October, 2004, she had gastric bypass surgery. But, studies
show that this surgery alone is not a long-term solution unless changes
in exercise and eating routines accompany it.
So, last June, Hill joined the AIDS National Marathon Training Program
which raises money for people living with HIV and AIDS. She was assigned
into a "pace group" composed of peer runners and started training for
last December's Honolulu Marathon, which she completed in 5 hours and 54
Today, ascribing to a careful diet that shuns white sugar and white
flour, Hill is, literally, half the person she once was. At a svelte size
2, and 106 pounds, she's preparing to tackle Napa's scenic course -- the
marathon that her father, David Hill, co-directs. If all goes well, she
might set her sights on the challenging 3-day triple marathon at the Lake
Tahoe Marathon in September.
"I'm living a new life, and I love it," says Hill. "I have a lot more
self confidence now, which is why I'm able to train for marathons.
They've noticed my confidence at work, and promoted me into sales. The
better my health gets, the better I feel about myself, and about the job
that I do at work and at home."
The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon (KPNVM) provides a popular
opportunity for "new age" marathoners. To date, pre-registration entries
for the race are slightly ahead of last year's record-setting numbers.
The event has an entry limit of 2,300 runners, which is largely
determined by the number of available hotel rooms in the world-renowned
Napa Valley wine producing and tasting region.
Based on data from its 2003 and 2004 races, 73.8 percent of the Napa
Valley Marathon's participants will be running in the race for the first
time. Statistics from other marathons indicate that at least half the
first-timers at Napa have never run a marathon before.
Running USA, a Santa Barbara-based trade organization for the running
industry, reports that the number of marathon finishers has reached an
all-time high (an estimated 423,000 in 2004), with a large percentage of
first-time marathoners (40% in large marathons in 2004 and 2005). These
numbers correspond with the Napa Valley Marathon's record turnout of
2,300 entrants last year, and a 35 to 40 percent first-timers rate.
Additionally, median finishing times for marathoners have slowed about 51
minutes for both men and women since 1980. In 2004, median finishing
times in marathons were 4:23:35 for men and 4:55:21 for women according
to Running USA. KPNVM's median finishing times in last year's race were
4:00 for men and 4:29 for women, however all runners are required to
finish under 5-1/2 hours to receive an official time.
Female runners now compose a solid 46.1 percent of the competitive
running population, a long stride from the 1970s when few women ran.
KPNVM's percentages (finishers, 2004 and 2005) are 56 percent male, 44
"It's safe to say that new runners are coming to the sport for reasons
that are going to keep them in the sport longer -- for health and
fitness," says Ryan Lamppa, Media Director for Running USA. "That's
opposed to runners in the first running boom who were very competitive
and doing 80-plus mile weeks. Invariably, that can lead to injury and
Rich Benyo, Co-Race Director for the Napa Valley Marathon, agrees with
"The whole swinging of the spectrum has changed the Napa Valley Marathon
from primarily being a race to being a participatory event," Benyo says.
"In many ways that's been positive, encouraging a lot more people to get
Benyo points out that many women, in particular, are drawn to marathon
training groups, which may have connections to charitable programs, for
the spirit of participation and a healthy lifestyle rather than for
"Certainly, the charity running groups and charitable aspects of many
marathons are part of this phenomenon," says Benyo.
Every Napa Valley Marathon participant assists important local causes.
All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization)
are donated to local charities and schools in the Napa Valley region
($38,000 over the past five years). In addition, charitable training
groups such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program
often field teams at KPNVM to raise funds for curing deadly diseases.
In addition, title sponsorship of the Napa Valley Marathon by Kaiser
Permanente Medical Centers of Santa Rosa and Vallejo helps to promote the
message that running is one way that individuals can take responsibility
for their own health. Kaiser Permanente offers a multi-faceted approach
to encourage active lifestyles and proactive health through its Thrive
"Like Kaiser Permanente, Napa Valley Marathon weekend encourages people
to be healthy and active," says Linda Weissman, Kaiser Permanente
Director of Public Affairs. "We look forward to working with the marathon
to underscore the benefits of a vitally active lifestyle."
Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon weekend includes a Sports and
Fitness Expo, Saturday, March 4 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 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon boasts one of the most
beautiful courses in the world. The course runs the length of the famed
Napa Valley wine-growing region. The marathon starts at 7:00 a.m. on
Sunday, March 5 in Calistoga, famous for its geysers and curative waters,
and winds south along the historic Silverado Trail to finish at Vintage
High School in north Napa. The 2006 edition of the KPNVM has again been
selected by the Road Runners Club of America as its National Marathon
Championship -- a designation it has received since 1998. Runners may
also choose the companion Kiwanis 5K Run, which starts and finishes at
Vintage High School on marathon morning.
EVENT ENTRY: Entry is limited to the first 2,300 registrants. Runners can
register for the marathon online or download an entry form at
www.napavalleymarathon.org. Alternatively, contact the race at NVM, P.O.
Box 4307, Napa 94558, e-mail: , telephone: (707) 255-2609
or FAX: (707) 257-6515. The registration fee for the race is $100. There
is no race-day registration.
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