Where Your Dreams Become Reality
4 Olympic Trials Qualifiers at Kaiser Permanent Napa Valley Marathon
NAPA, Calif. - March 2, 2008 - Aided by ideal, clear and mild running conditions, Juan Ramirez, 39, of Santa Ana, Calif., and Maureen Ackerly, 38, of Richmond, Virginia, registered victories today at the 30th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon. The two overall winners led a charge of 2,300 registrants (a race sellout) and 1,757 finishers in the largest turnout ever for the race.
Ackerly won an intriguing women's contest in which the top four females earned qualifying times for the 2008 USA Olympic Team Trials-Women's Marathon on April 20th in Boston. Her winning time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 25 seconds was the third fastest ever recorded by a woman on the fast, point-to-point course. Ramirez cruised to the men's victory with a time of 2:32:12.
Half a dozen women came to Napa hoping for a time under 2:47:00, the Olympic Marathon Trials "B" standard set by USA Track & Field for a spot on the starting line at the Trials race. The prestigious Trials race, in which about 125 elite U.S. female marathoners will compete, will select the three women who will make this year's U.S. Olympic team in the marathon event.
Breezy tailwinds assisted a lead pack of five women over the scenic Silverado Trail road course through Napa Valley, which included an official pacesetter, Caroline Annis of San Francisco. Annis, who previously qualified for the marathon trials at last December's California International Marathon, led the tight group though 18 miles at a pace just under six minutes and twenty seconds per mile-on track for a 2:46:00 finish.
"Caroline Annis was a metronome, we all fell in behind her," said Ackerly "She ran the tangents perfectly and every mile split was right on. All the girls were really supportive of each other."
Said Shaluinn Fullove (Palo Alto, Calif.) who was also in the lead group: "The wind just kept coming up at the right time. Right when you wanted to slow down, it just lifted you up."
After Annis intentionally dropped out of the race at 18 miles, as planned, the four lead women charged to the finish line as they gradually spread out. Ackerly pulled away from Claudia Becque (Chicago, Ill.) with about a mile remaining in the 26.2-mile race to secure the victory. Becque followed her through the finish line at Vintage High School in Napa in 2:44:52. Fullove was third in 2:46:04. Two-time Napa Valley Marathon winner Mary Coordt (Elk Grove, Calif.) was fourth in 2:46:30, as she qualified for her third Marathon Trials.
All four women ran personal record times as they head to the Marathon Trials race in Boston.
Although Ackerly has completed six marathons and won several of them, the Napa Valley Marathon is her most significant victory by far. Ackerly credited her husband, Ben Ackerly, a former decathlete, who provided her with the training guidance to improve and reach her goals.
"It's a dream come true; it really is," said Ackerly about her Trials qualifying performance. "I never would have believed that I could do this, but my husband did."
With only seven weeks to go before the Trials, these women are simply happy to be headed towards the starting line in Boston.
"I have no delusions about qualifying for the Olympic team," Ackerly said, "but what a great T-shirt to have."
In the men's race, Ramirez and Michael Arnstein, 31, of New York City, jettisoned to an immediately lead, and, by mutual agreement, shared leading chores. On a short uphill grade in mile 19, Ramirez was able to gain a slight lead on Arnstein and lengthened it to almost a two-minute gap by the finish.
"I was shooting for something close to my personal record (2:30:41), but I haven't run a marathon in about 14 months so I was a little unsure about how I was going to feel," Ramirez said. "But, overall, I was glad about my 2:32 [win]. It was pretty close to my goal."
Arnstein was runner-up in 2:34:07.
James Beyer, 40, of Dayton, Ohio, finished third overall in 2:36:38 and captured the men's masters (40 years of age and older) victory. Lisa Miller, 42, of Pacific Grove, Calif. won the women's masters title in 3:18:02.
Each overall winner (Ackerly and Ramirez) took home titles as 2008 Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) national marathon champions. The event served as RRCA's National Marathon Championship event. Both winners won five cases of premium wine donated by the Napa Valley Silverado Trail Wineries Association. Each winner also carried home a specially produced, etched bottle of Napa Valley wine.
Among veteran competitors, standout Helen Klein, 85, of Rancho Cordova, CA broke her own World Masters Athletics (WMA) record for the women's 85 to 89 year-old age group. Her time of 5:36:15 at Napa eclipsed her previous record of 5:49:11 that she set last December.
Additional outstanding performances were registered by Dick Beardsley, 51, of Austin, Tex. in 2:49:09; Larry Lichnovsky, 60, of Arlington, Tex. in 3:05:59; and Dr. Janet Cain, 56, of Sonoma, Calif. in 3:31:57.
1984 Olympic Games marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, 50, the featured guest at this year's Napa Valley Marathon, ran 20 miles of the race on a training run in preparation for her final U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials race next month.
Full race results for the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon are available on the event's web site at www.napavalleymarathon.org.
All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities in the Napa Valley.
* * * * * * Top Results: (See www.napavalleymarathon.org for full results.)
30th Napa Valley Marathon Napa, CA, Sunday, March 2, 2008
MEN 1) Juan Ramirez, 39, Santa Ana, CA, 2:32:12 2) Michael Arnstein, 31, New York, NY, 2:34:07 3) James Beyer, 40, Dayton, OH, 2:36:38 4) Ryan Gall, 24, Pacifica, CA 2:38:58 5) Christopher Ratliff, 37, Santa Cruz, CA 2:39:46
MASTERS MEN (40+) 1) Beyer (see above)
WOMEN 1) Maureen Ackerly, 38, Richmond, VA 2:44:25 2) Claudia Becque, 31, Chicago, IL 2:44:52 3) Shaluinn Fullove, 30, Palo Alto, CA 2:46:04 4) Mary Coordt, 38, Elk Grove, CA 2:46:30 5) Dina Rosenthal, 36, San Jose, CA 2:51:25
MASTERS WOMEN (40+) 1) Lisa Miller, 42, Pacific Grove, CA 3:18:02
The Napa Valley Marathon appreciates generous sponsor support from Kaiser Permanente/Thrive, Calistoga Mineral Water Company, Gatorade, ASICS America Corporation, Silverado Trail Wineries Association, Marathon & Beyond, Road Runners Club of America, USA Track & Field, MarathonFoto, Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, GU, CBS 5 and UPN Bay Area, Comcast, Napa Valley Register, KVYN/99.3 The Vine, KVON 1440 AM, the Napa Running Company, KCBS 740 AM, Silverado Brewing Company, DJ's Growing Place, and Wine Country Inn/Napa Valley