American marathon record holder and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor roared back into the news today. Not only has Deena joined the Twitter Nation
@DeenaKastor, but the St. Louis Sports Commission announced her participation in the USATF National Cross Country Championships on February 2nd – an event she has won eight times – and the Los Angeles Marathon has also announced that they’ve signed Deena for its March 17th marathon. It’s arguably the biggest “get” in L.A.’s 28-year history.
“Deena is the most accomplished female American distance runner in history,” said LA Marathon Race Director Nick Curl in announcing Kastor’s participation. “And to have her on the start line of the 2013 LA Marathon is tremendous. We believe that having an outstanding field of runners is part of creating a world-class race and delivering a top-tier experience for all participants.”
A number of factors worked in conjunction to lure Deena back to cross country and then to her first start at the marathon in LA. First, LA is her hometown race. She grew up in nearby Agoura Hills out along the Ventura Freeway. Secondly, Deena has at least rudimentary experience on the Stadium-to-the-Sea LA course, as she ran as a mid-pack field reporter for the KTLA-TV5 coverage of the marathon last year. Also, her husband Andrew is the head of the LA RoadRunner’s Training program. And finally, her shoe sponsor, Asics, is now the title sponsor of the Asics LA Marathon.
“With Andrew coaching the LA Marathon distance program, I got to know the whole team over the last year,” Deena told me from her home in Mammoth Lakes, California. “The event has changed so much in the last few years. When I was growing up in Southern California, I remember watching the LA Marathon on TV, and seeing what a big deal it was. Mercedes was a sponsor, and my dad said, ‘maybe you can win me a car one day.’ But that was even before I started running. So it will be fun to be able to run it now, though my mom and dad will be on a cruise that weekend, which is killing them now that they know I’ll be running.
“But last year I was involved with the TV coverage, and there was so much energy along the course, and I remember running down Hollywood Boulevard thinking, ‘I’d like to run this competitively sometime. The event really celebrates the city. And then Asics came in, too, and brought excitement and the level of involvement like in the New York City Marathon.”
But this won’t simply be a stroll down memory lane. Kastor is in it to win it. That’s where the national cross country championship comes into play. (more…)