A STAR IS BORN – ASICS L.A. MARATHON 2013

Aleksandra Duliba in LA Marathon spotligh

Aleksandra Duliba Shines in L.A. Marathon spotlight

     Los Angeles, CA. — Aleksandra Duliba isn‘t the first, nor will she be the last blond to seek fame and fortune in Los Angeles.  After all, it is the city of dreams.  But the dream came to life today for the 27 year-old marathon debutant from Minsk, Belarus as she won the 28th Asics Los Angeles Marathon, captured the $50,000 Gender Challenge bonus for crossing the finish line ahead of any man on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, and set a Belarus national marathon record, 2:26:06 in the process. Mexican born Kenyan Erick Mose captured the men’s title in a PR 2:09:44 ahead of fellow Kenyan Julius Keter who also ran to a new PR (2:10:32).

“She made all four of her goals,” said Duliba’s manager, Andrej Baranov.  “So what’s next?” Continue reading

WOMEN CONTROL THEIR FATE AT LA MARATHON GENDER CHALLENGE

Los Angeles, CA. — Last year the men dawdled through the early stages of the Asics Los Angeles Marathon, and it cost them a chance at the $100,000 Gender Challenge bonus that goes to the first runner across the finish line in Santa Monica. This year defending men’s champion Simon Njoroge of Kenya (2:12:11) promises to engage early and bring that bonus back to Nyahururu, his home base in the Rift Valley province.  Continue reading

GRIFFITH PARK WELCOMES L.A. MARATHONERS

Three Amigos at Griffith Park

Three Amigos at Griffith Park

     Los Angeles, Ca. – Shadows cut long and lean through the greenscape of Griffith Park this morning as runners toured the 2.7 mile golf course loop at the Ranger’s station, one of L.A.’s most popular running routes.  But among the string of regulars hitting the hard-packed dirt trails came a head-turning group of three exotics from faraway Kenya in town for this Sunday’s 28th ASICS L.A. Marathon.

Defending L.A. champion Simon Njoroge (in blue), 2:07-man Nicholas Chelimo (in orange), and 2011 Nairobi Marathon champion Ernest Kebenei (left) had arrived last night from the long haul out of Kenya, and were looking for an easy travel rust remover.  And though their speed was well in check on the casual six-mile jog, there was no disguising their world-class forms and rhythms.

“Who are those guys,” asked Craig Henry, the coach and member of the Los Angeles Police Department team who were in the park training for the April 13-14 Baker to Vegas Relay, a 120-mile slog from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada through perilous Death Valley.

While the three Kenyans shook the dirt from their shoes and leaned into the stretching routine, I introduced the LAPD team who huddled around for pictures as I learned more about the unique Baker to Vegas Relay from Coach Henry. Continue reading

MASTER’S CHALLENGE – ASICS LOS ANGELES MARATHON 2013

Deena Prepping in Pasadena

Deena Prepping in Pasadena

Blink and you’d swear the clock rolled back a decade as the top two female bib numbers at this Sunday’s Asics Los Angeles Marathon will be worn by Americans Deena Kastor (F1) and Colleen De Reuck (F3).  Both women have resumes filled with national records and championships, not to mention Deena’s Olympic Marathon medal from 2004, and Colleen’s win over Deena in the same year’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis.  But both are master’s runners now, Deena having joined the ranks a month ago, Colleen sneaking up on the senior division (50+). In one sense having Deena and Colleen as head liners is a testament to their lasting value, but in another it’s an indication of how competitive the spring racing season is for available talent. Continue reading

HAWAII’S HAPALUA – RAIN DROPS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY HEAD

Hapalua "Chase" champion Steve Marthy with Makau, Muindi & Manza

Hapalua “Chase” champion Steve Marthy with Makau, Muindi & Manza

Honolulu, Hawaii — 25 year-old Army 1st Lieutenant Stephen Marthy of Fort Shafter can forever say that he beat marathon world record holder Patrick Makau in a half-marathon — never mind that he had a 11-minute head start.  The Albany, New York native sprinted past his final two competitors in the final quarter-mile to win The Chase competition at the second annual Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon today in Kapiolani Park.

Lt. Marthy’s gun time of 1:12:46 minus the 11:00 head start he was awarded gave him a net time of 1:01:46, good enough for a four-second win over Christina Wong, and 13 seconds over Kim Kuehnert in the handicap format. His time also brought Marthy home ahead of world-class Kenyan runners Patrick Makau, Nicholas Manza and Jimmy Muindi and earned him a cool $5000 first place prize. Continue reading

MEET AT THE CORNER SHOP

The Corner Shop in Ngong

Ngong, Kenya – The town of Ngong awakens early, well before the sun, as many of its 57,000 residents must commute into Nairobi for work. And with major road construction along the Langata Road into the capital advancing at a snail’s pace this summer – workers are replacing the porous roadbed of black cotton soil with the more compact sub-structure of red clay – the morning commute is and will be even more congested through the next several months.

Pauline Kariuki, Corner Shop owner

Ngong is a bustling town near the Ngong Hills, training home to a number of Kenya’s top distance runners, including marathon world record holder Patrick Makau. Today, we have scheduled to meet Makau and his group at 6:10 a.m. at the Corner Shop, a tiny convenience store just a few hundred meters down from Ngong Center. Continue reading

THE START OF BRANDING AND PROMOTION

Makau making friends at Damien Memorial High School

Makau making friends at Damien Memorial High School

Honolulu, Hawaii — It’s a push-me, pull-you kind of world. On one hand the demands of elite long distance running remain constant, requiring an all but monastic focus on the rigors of training.  But on the other hand the demands of the marketplace in which running finds itself in a hurly-burly competition against the media-savvy marketers of the PGA, NBA, and numerous other sports, require athletes to step out of their monk-like lairs to promote and market themselves and their sport like true professionals.

This week in Honolulu we are seeing evidence that even one of the most cloistered of athletes by nature, marathon world record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya, is making attempts to reconcile these competing demands of his sport.  So even as he prepares for an important tune up for the April 21st Virgin London Marathon in tomorrow’s second annual Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half-Marathon, he spent yesterday and this morning tending to his branding and promotion efforts by appearing at a local high school, conducting a live Facebook Q & A with fans, and joining local runners in a morning fun run hosted by the Hapalua Half.

TheHapalua     “When you have someone like Patrick Makau at your event,” explained Honolulu Marathon President Jim Barahal, organizer of The Hapalua, “when you invest in an athlete of that caliber, it’s important that he not be seen as separate.  So you have him interact with the everyday runners as much as you can to close the gap between them. Nowadays it’s the opposite of the loneliness of the long distance runner.  Today, running is a highly social sport. So it’s important to bring the pros to everyone else so they become part of the community, which itself is a world-wide, and no longer fragmented into separate local communities.” Continue reading