Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon Announces Elite
NAPA, Calif. - (February 21, 2009) - The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon has announced that professional U.S. marathoner Peter Gilmore (San Mateo, Calif.) and 2007 NVM women's champion Devon Crosby-Helms (Seattle, Wash.) will join a sold-out crowd of 2,300 participants for its 31st edition on Sunday, March 1. Although the race does not offer prize money, its fast and scenic course that spans the length of the world renowned Napa Valley wine country draws runners of all abilities from near and far.
A racing-sharp Gilmore could threaten the longtime Napa Valley Marathon men's course record of 2:16:20 set by Dick Beardsley in 1987. Gilmore, however, has other plans.
"I'll run Napa as a training run," said Gilmore, who is preparing for a spring marathon but hasn't finalized which one yet. "I've never done a marathon as a training run leading up to another marathon. But Napa is a beautiful race. It's easy for me to travel to, and the expected winning time is right in the wheelhouse of what I want to do for a training run. Mid-2:20s would be nice."
The average men's winning time at Napa over the past five years is 2:27.
"Obviously, winning (at Napa) is a top priority, but I have to put a limit on what I'm willing to do to conserve a little bit for another marathon," commented Gilmore, who has logged 100 to 150 training miles a week over the winter.
Additional top contenders among men include:
* Andy Martin (Bend, Ore.), 34, a prolific marathoner and former triathlete who won 26.2-milers at the Big Sur International Marathon (Carmel, Calif.) and Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon on back-to-back weekends last year. His personal best is 2:20:04.
* James Nielsen (Palo Alto, Calif.), a two-time NCAA Division III 5000-meter champion while at the University of California-San Diego, and a two-time USA world cross country team member. Nielsen, 29, recorded a personal best of 2:21:01 while winning the 2007 Eugene Marathon.
Male Age Group Watch: Ed Spinney, 55, of Eugene, Ore., who in the late 1970s and early 1980s sported an impressive range of 3:57 for the mile to 2:18 in the marathon. Spinney ran a 2:47 marathon last year, and he hopes to break the NVM course record of 2:43:29 for men 55-59 at this year's race.
Crosby-Helms competed on officially sanctioned (by USA Track & Field) U.S. national teams at the last two IAU World Cup 100K races, an international event which is often referred to as the "world championship" of ultra-distance running. Last November, in Italy, she placed tenth overall in the race. Along with U.S. teammate Kami Semick, who placed second overall, Crosby-Helms helped pace the U.S. team to a silver medal winning performance.
In fact, Semick, 42, of Bend, Ore. is also a top prospect for the women's victory at this year's Napa Valley Marathon. She was the U.S. 50K trail champion in 2006, and has won marathons at Portland ('08), Silicon Valley ('07) and Seattle ('05). Semick's personal best at the marathon distance is 2:45:24.
"If Kami is in top form, there's no hope for me," admitted Crosby-Helms, who recently had her training interrupted by a foot injury. "I really don't know what my speed is going to be like. While winning is always fun, I just love the Napa race so much. It's more about just running the race and enjoying it."
Mary Coordt (Elk Grove, Calif.) will compete in the race once again after a memorable performance last year. Coordt, 39, finished the 2008 race in fourth place behind women's winner Maureen Ackerly. Her time of 2:46:30, a personal record, qualified Coordt for her third U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials. In fact, the top four women all qualified for the Trials with times under the Trials "B" qualifying standard of 2:47:00. Coordt is a two-time champion ('97, '05) at the NVM.
Female Age Group Watch: Christine Iwahashi, 53, of Sacramento, Calif. is a three-time winner ('86, '87, '90) of the Napa Valley Marathon - tying her with David Chairez ('84, '86, '89) for the most NVM victories. Iwahashi will run the 112th marathon of her long career at this year's NVM.
The 2009 Napa Valley Marathon starts on Sunday, March 1 at 7:00am sharp in Calistoga on the Silverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The marathon's fast, USA Track & Field certified point-to-point road course runs the length of the beautiful Silverado Trail and finishes at Vintage High School in Napa. Top runners are expected to reach the finish between 9:15am and 9:30am. Runners will receive official times up until 1:00pm when the course closes.
Entry slots are still available for the companion Kiwanis 5K Fun Run, which starts (8:00am) and finishes at Vintage High School on marathon morning.
For more information, visit: NapaValleyMarathon.org