37th Annual Race Will Honor 1976 U.S. Men’s Olympic Marathon Team
February 20, 2015
Mocko and Yanko have each ascended the winner’s podium two times at the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM). Mocko, age 28, won the men’s race in 2011 and 2012. Yanko (née Crosby-Helms), age 32, topped the women’s field in 2007 and 2012, and her 2012 finishing time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 37 seconds set the current women’s course record.
The superb NVM men’s course record of 2:16:29 was set in 1987 by (U.S.) National Distance Running Hall of Fame member Dick Beardsley. The record for the most wins at NVM is held by Mary Coordt (Elk Grove, Calif.). Coordt, who now serves as NVM’s Elite Athlete Recruiter and Coordinator, captured the women’s crown in 1997, 2005, 2009, and 2010.
Both Mocko and Yanko come to this year’s race on an upswing after tackling recent challenges that affected their race performances. Mocko, whose marathon personal best is 2:23:48, was slowed down by a string of recent injuries, but he appears to be back on track again. On February 1, he won the 2015 Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon in 1:06:29, a personal best for the 13.1-mile distance.
“I have some of my fondest marathon memories from Napa, and it’s now become a staple in my March racing schedule,” Mocko said. “It’s my main motivator for getting back into shape after the holidays, I have some pretty lofty aspirations for this year and I’m hoping Napa will be another positive step in the right direction.”
Mocko is now focused on securing a qualifying time for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles which will select the U.S. men’s and women’s marathon teams for the 2016 Olympic Games. The men’s minimum (“B” standard) qualifying times for entry in the Trials are 2:18:00 (marathon) or 1:05:00 (half marathon). Mocko’s plan for NVM is to use it as a stepping stone to a possible qualifying time this coming Spring.
“Based on performances in the past, 2:24:00 could likely be needed to win the race and I wouldn’t mind cutting a couple of seconds off of my marathon PR,” he said.
In the women’s field, Yanko is optimistic for a better performance than last year’s 2:52:54 third place outing at NVM, a race which she ran not long after being diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. Now, on an iron maintenance regime, the accomplished marathoner and ultramarathoner (distances beyond 26.2 miles) who has represented the U.S. on international ultra distance teams is back in the hunt.
“I’m looking to come back this year strong with some very competitive races and some big international races and goals,” Yanko said. “Napa is a race that I love, so it’s only fitting for me to get this year going right by a good race there. I want to have a good lead-up race before I return to South Africa for Two Oceans 56K (in April) and Comrades 89K in late May. Those are my two big goal races and the only way to be ready to compete in them is to be in great marathon shape, too.”
In 2011, Yanko placed third female at Two Oceans, followed by a fifth place at Comrades. She has competed in more than 20 marathons and 30 ultras since 2006, and is a 3-time member of the USA 100K national team. Her marathon personal best is 2:38:55 which she recorded at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials race in Houston, Tex.
Additional top contenders in the invited fields include:
• Michelle Meyer (27, San Francisco, Calif.) returns to NVM with one NVM victory already on her resume. She won the 2013 women’s race in 2:43:09, a personal best time. In fact, she ran her debut marathon at NVM in 2006 and has completed 13 marathons since then. Meyer qualified for, and competed in, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials where she placed 84th in 2:45:52.
Meyer is in her fourth year of medical school at University of California, San Francisco. After she graduates in May, she will begin her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“I’m very excited to return to Napa this year, although it may be my last marathon for a while. I’m not yet sure how much time I’ll have for marathon training during residency,” Meyer said. “I hope to run a smart race. In an ideal world, I’d love to set a PR, but my number one goal is to finish. I hope to find a group to run with during the race because it’s so much easier and more fun to work together during a marathon than to run alone.”
• Jaymee Marty (47, Sacramento, Calif.), who took up the sport of running 10 years ago, has aspirations of qualifying for her second U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. At the 2010 Chicago Marathon, she qualified for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials by running 2:45:09, her current personal best. She struggled with injuries leading up to the Trials and finished well back in the pack. In April, 2013, she won the Eugene Marathon in 2:48:50. More recently, Marty took home the women’s overall victory at the Jed Smith 30K Ultra Classic Trail Run on February 7, 2015 in Sacramento. She already has one NVM on her resume, the 2006 edition, where she finished 7th in 3:15:46.
“My race goal for Napa is to run under 2:43:00 and qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials,” Marty said.
The women’s “A” qualifying standard for the Trials is 2:37:00. The “B” standard is 2:43:00. Runners must qualify by January 17, 2016 to compete.
“My coach, Jack Daniels, has prepared me for this,” Marty continued. ”I feel like my training is on track for that goal. It is an ambitious goal for me since it means setting a 2-minute PR at the age of 47, but I’m running really well right now. At this point, I’ve put in all the work, and the hay is in the barn, as the saying goes.”
Daniels, a world-renowned distance running coach, has recently guided Marty through workouts that she calls “the biggest of my life,” including 10-mile tempo runs within 22 milers and 15-mile runs at marathon race pace.
• Heather Parks (39, Bruceton Mills, W. Va.) travels to Napa with elite credentials on her running resume. Parks (better known as Heather Bury before she married) has a personal best marathon of 2:45:04 which qualified her for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, an event that selected the U.S. women’s Olympic marathon team that competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Parks subsequently married Donald Parks, and they have three children. Besides parenting her youngsters, Parks is the Recreation Director at Big Bear Lake Camplands in West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains.
“I’m trying to do it all over again,” Parks said. “My goal is to get back to continually improving again. I want to be my best when I turn 40. If I were to run a 2:50 at Napa I would entertain the thought of then trying to get a (2016) Olympic Trials qualifying time. But I’ve been there before, and I know how hard it is to get there. To do it with three kids and a job would be tremendous. The great thing is there are other moms out there doing it, too, so it keeps hope alive.”
• Natasha Luppov (28, San Francisco, Calif.) is still relatively new to the marathon distance, but has plenty of time to improve. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008 where she received Academic All-Big Ten Honors four times while competing in cross country and track. While at Michigan Luppov scored personal bests on the outdoor track of 16:59 for 5,000m and 35:41 for 10,000m.
Her only two marathons to date, both at the Orange County Marathon, have yielded modest results as she ran out of gas over the last six miles in both instances. She finished the 2012 race in 3:06:47, and then ran 3:03:41 in 2014.
Since then, Luppov has focused more seriously on training, steadily increasing her training mileage. Her goal for Napa is to continue honing her marathon skills with an ultimate goal down the road of qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
• Mason Meyers (45, Carmichael, Calif.) returns to NVM after setting his all-time marathon PR of 2:45:45, winning the Masters (ages 40 and over) crown, and finishing 14th male overall, at last year’s race. It was his debut at the marathon distance.
After running competitively in high school and college, Meyers took an 18-year break from the sport. In high school, he earned third place in the 3,200 meter race at the 1987 California State High School Track and Field Championships in 9:05. In 1989, he won the California state junior college title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. At age 38, he rediscovered his attraction for road racing and cross country. Since then, as a Masters athlete, Myers has recorded excellent marks at distances from 1 mile (4:45) to the marathon (2:45:45). He is a strong contender for the men’s Masters title at NVM once again.
“My training has been consistent and going very well, and I’m on track to execute a race plan targeted to finish in 2:42:00,” Meyers said. “I’m excited to return to NVM and defend my Masters men’s title. The 2014 race was a great experience and I was motivated by my family and friends who cheered for me just before the 25 mile marker on Big Ranch Road.”
• Scott Dunlap (45, Woodside, Calif.) is a prolific marathoner and ultramarathoner. He has run 120 marathons (26.2 miles) and ultras (races 50 kilometers/31 miles and longer) and is the reigning USA Track & Field national Masters champion for both the 50 mile road and 50 mile trail events. In 2010, he was named USATF’s Masters Ultrarunner of the Year.
“The Napa Valley Marathon will kick off my road running season, which also includes the Boston Marathon, the Big Sur Marathon, and my big goal road race, the Comrades Marathon (56 miles) in Durban, South Africa in May,” Dunlap said. “The Napa course is so fast, and there is always fast company. Just having it on my calendar gives me plenty of motivation to train hard.”
Additional Race Weekend Events
At the Napa Valley Marathon’s annual Marathon College, held the day before the race, Joe Henderson (running author, editor, and coach) will moderate a unique 90-minute panel discussion, “Olympic Marathon Champions of 1976”, that will feature special guests Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Don Kardong who competed on the 1976 U.S. Olympic marathon team. Shorter won the 1972 Olympic Marathon and placed second in 1976. His 1972 victory is generally credited as the race that ignited the U.S. running boom.
Kardong was fourth in the ’76 Olympic marathon. During that era, Shorter won the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan (the world championship marathon at that time) four years in a row (1971-1974). Rodgers won both the Boston and New York City Marathons four times each. Kardong won the Honolulu Marathon in 1978. All three runners are (U.S.) National Distance Running Hall of Fame inductees. Former New York City Marathon Race Director, Allan Steinfeld, will also participate on the panel.
The Marathon College is scheduled for Saturday, February 28 from 10 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa. The Olympic Marathon Champions of 1976 panel discussion takes place from 12 to 1:30 p.m. NVM weekend also includes a Sports and Fitness Expo on Friday, February 27th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, February 28th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Marriott. Both the Marathon College and Sports and Fitness Expo are free for the general public.
The 2015 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon starts on Sunday, March 1 at 7:00 a.m. sharp in Calistoga on the Silverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The 26.2-mile road course runs the length of the beautiful Silverado Trail and finishes at Vintage High School in Napa. The male and female winners will earn coveted first place prizes: their weight in fine Napa Valley wine.
Entry slots are still available for the companion Kiwanis 5K Fun Run, which starts (8 a.m.) and finishes at Vintage High School on marathon morning.
Every Napa Valley Marathon participant assists important local causes. All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities and schools in the Napa Valley region. In addition, an independent economic impact analysis commissioned by the marathon in 2012 estimated that the local economic impact of NVM is approximately $3 million annually in direct spending.