L.A. Marathon director prepping for 2016 Olympic trials, possible 2024 bid

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
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LA MarathonAP Photo/Reed SaxonL.A.'s marathon course could act as a showcase for a possible 2024 Summer Olympics bid.
As Los Angeles begins work on a potential bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Asics L.A. Marathon CEO Tracey Russell and other organizers are already preparing for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb. 16, 2016.

The course design for the trials has not been finalized, but may be revealed by the March 15 running of the 2015 LA Marathon. It is expected to be a criterium-style course with a two-mile first loop and then four six-mile loops run central to downtown Los Angeles.

“We originally wanted to do a course that would emulate [the 2016 Olympic course in Rio de Janiero], but as of a few months ago they did not have anything finalized,” Russell said during a recent conversation with ESPN.com. “We debated waiting for them or moving forward. With a major city like Los Angeles, we wanted to get all of the necessary approvals with plenty of time for athletes to come in and run some of the course.”

United States Track and Field and L.A. Marathon organizers decided to move forward and design a course that appeals to athletes, spectators and television. The course will feature Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where Joan Benoit Samuelson won the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984.

“It’s being designed where we can showcase our runners and showcase our city,” Russell said.

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As Baylor runner Annie Dunlap approached the finish line at the recent NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, she knew she was in trouble.

Her legs turned to rubber. She wobbled. She fell. She got up and fell a second and then a third time.

“I was just trying to get back up and finish, and I couldn’t,” said the freshman. “The only thing going through my mind was getting back up again.”

As she fought to rise after her third fall, teammate Madie Zimmerman stopped and pulled Dunlap to her feet. Zimmerman then supported her as they walked side by side toward the finish. After a few yards, Minnesota’s Kate Bucknam –- who’d never met either Baylor athlete -– veered over, put Dunlap’s arm over her shoulder and helped Zimmerman get Dunlap across the line.

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BadwaterDavid McNew/Getty ImagesThe Badwater 135 ultra race will return to Death Valley National Park in 2015 after a one-year hiatus.
After a year away from Death Valley National Park, the Badwater 135 ultramarathon appears headed back to its roots.

Chris Kostman, race director and founder of AdventureCorps, which puts on the Badwater 135 and other endurance events, announced in a news release Sunday that the 135-mile race will be held July 28-30 of 2015 “on the traditional route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney.”

Last year’s race was held outside the park when the National Park Service imposed a moratorium while it conducted a safety review of such events in Death Valley.

Instead of beginning at the traditional starting point of Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level) within the park and ending at Whitney Portal, the 2014 race began in Lone Pine, Calif., but had the same finish.

Runners were disappointed in 2014, and the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce also voiced displeasure at lost revenue and not having input into the park’s decision process.

When the safety review was completed this fall, rules were adopted by the park to ban athletic events after 10 a.m. between June 14 and Sept. 9.

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Next Wings for Life relay set for spring 2015

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5
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Coolboy NgamoleCraig Kolesky for Wings for Life World RunCoolboy Ngamole was part of a successful debut for the Wings for Life relay last summer.
By almost any measure, the inaugural Wings for Life World Run in May was a hit.

It drew more than 35,000 participants at 34 venues across the world, and runners said they loved the quirky format in which there was no finish line. Runners ran as fast and as far as they could before being passed by the “Catcher Car” that started 30 minutes after the runners.

Plus, the event raised $4.1 million for the Wings for Life foundation and medical research for spinal-cord injuries.

So, when the second annual event is held on May 3, 2015, there will be few changes. The race format, the Catcher Car and the simultaneous start (7 a.m. EST) across the globe at 35 venues on six continents will be familiar.

“Why change perfection, right?” says Zoltan Polgar, the race director at Sunrise, Fla., one of three U.S. race venues in 2014 and one of three North American sites in 2015, along with Santa Clarita, Calif., and Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the border, about 30 minutes from Buffalo, N.Y.

Details of the 2015 race were announced Wednesday on the event’s website (wingsforlifeworldrun.com).

Polgar said the event will be tweaked in slight ways to respond to participants’ feedback. There will be more music and entertainment at venues, and the courses will be straighter, with fewer twists and turns.

Registration (via the website) will be $30 per person through December, with the price going up to $50 after Jan. 1. Organizers say 100 percent of fees go toward research. Runners must be at least 16 (down from a minimum of 18 last year).

The average distance run was 9.3 miles before being passed by the catcher car. The overall winners in the first event were Lemawork Ketema of Ethiopia (men), who ran 46.4 miles in Austria, and Selvikag Molvik (women), who did 32.4 miles in Norway.

2014 NYC Marathon is the largest in history

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
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NYC MarathonAP Photo/Jason DeCrowMore than 50,000 runners crossed the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to start the New York City Marathon.
The 2014 New York City Marathon had 50,564 finishers, the New York Road Runners announced Monday, making it the largest marathon ever.

Last year's New York City Marathon set the previous record for the largest field in history with a total of 50,266 finishers. That 2013 total eclipsed the previous record -- from New York in 2011 -- by more than 3,000 after the 2012 race was cancelled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Only 305 of the 50,869 runners who started on Staten Island did not make it to the finish line in Central Park. Compared to other marathons, New York City has a high finish rate.

New York also hit another milestone during Sunday's race when its one-millionth finisher crossed crossed the line. Katherine Slingluff of Brooklyn completed her race in 4:43:36.

Here is a look at the largest fields ever at each of the five most popular marathons in the world.

  • New York City: 50,564 (11/2/2014)
  • Chicago: 40,802 (10/12/2014)
  • Paris: 38,690 (4/07/2013)
  • London: 36,672 (4/22/2012)
  • Boston: 35,868 (4/15/1996)