Elite Field Promises Surprises at Los Angeles Marathon XXIV

May 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES, May 14 /PRNewswire/ — There’s no obvious favorite in either the men’s or women’s division of the 24th Los Angeles Marathon. And that’s a good thing.

Sure, there are five men with lifetime bests under 2:10, but could a former track & field star ascend the podium in victory in front of the Los Angeles Central Library on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25?

A candidate worth considering has to be Kenya’s Benjamin Limo, who enters the race with what appears to be a modest marathon best of 2:12:45 from the 2008 Amsterdam Marathon. But he is a former IAAF World Champion in the 5,000 meters from 2005 and has plenty of speed. Now 34, he’s moved onto the roads and according to manager Ricky Simms, “Ben is very serious

about the marathon. As one of the top long-distance track runners, he is determined to run a world-class time on the roads. He was in good shape for Amsterdam last Fall and was running well up to 20 miles but got bad blisters in the last few miles and jogged in.

“He would like to run well in L.A.”

He will get to test his fitness against 2007 Los Angeles Marathon champion and fellow Kenyans Fred Mogaka (2:12:03 best from 2006), Laban Kipkemboi (Kenya, 2:08:38 best from 2007), who finished second in 2006 and third in the 2005 Los Angeles Marathon and 2007 runner-up Moses Kororia. Two Ethiopians have the best recent marathon marks in the field in 24-year-old Tariku Jufar, who ran a quick 2:08:10 in Hamburg in October, 2008 and Negari Terfa, who has already clocked 2:09:01 this season in the Xiamen Marathon in China on January 3.

The 26.2-mile race will be run on the fastest course in Los Angeles Marathon history, previously used in 2005 and 2006, where Kenya’s then-21-year-old Benson Cherono ran a race record 2:08:40 in 2006.

Among the women, the fastest time coming into the race belongs to 38-year-old Romanian Nuta Olaro, who ran 2:24:33 in Chicago way back in 2004. But two Russians are on the rise and could challenge Lidiya Grigoryeva’s race record of 2:25:10, also from 2006: Lyubov Morgunova and Tatiana Petrova.

Morgunova, also 38, won the prestigious Rotterdam Marathon last year in her lifetime best of 2:25:12 and then followed up with a strong ninth-place finish in the 2008 New York City Marathon (2:30:38). Petrova was the silver medalist in the 3000 m Steeplechase in the 2007 IAAF World Championships, then finished fourth in the Olympic Games steeplechase final in Beijing last year. Only 26, she has dabbled in the marathon since 2004, but slashed more than five minutes off her lifetime best with a third-place finish in the Dubai Marathon in January in 2:25:53. Is she ready to step up with another monster improvement in Los Angeles?

The 2009 Los Angeles Marathon offers a prize purse of $100,000 in cash, divided evenly between men and women with $20,000 for each winner, runner-up prize of $12,500 and additional prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 for places three through five. The winners will also receive a 2009 Honda Accord EX-L V6 sedan, which has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $28,705.

However, the first person — man or woman — to cross the finish line will receive an additional $100,000 in the unique Los Angeles Marathon “Challenge.” Begun in 2004, the Challenge pits the men and women against each other by starting the women’s elite field several minutes ahead of the men; the first person to reach the finish line will win the Challenge purse.

In addition, bonuses for achieving specific times are available from an additional $3,000 for a sub-2:12:00 (men) or sub-2:30:00 (women) performance up to $75,000 for a sub-2:07:30 race for the men or sub-2:20:00 for the women.

The Los Angeles Marathon XXIV elite fields as of May 13, which are subject to change, include 19 men and 13 women.

For more information on the Los Angeles Marathon, visit www.lamarathon.com

For more information on the Acura L.A. Bike Tour, visit www.acuraLAbiketour.com

“We inspire athletes and connect communities. Anchored by the iconic Los Angeles Marathon, our three sporting events draw more than 42,000 athletes, 12,000 volunteers, and one million spectators along the route to sunny Southern California for the L.A. Marathon, the Acura L.A. Bike Tour, and our 5K Run/Walk for Charity, making race day one of the world’s largest days of participatory sport.” ~ Russ Pillar, President, Los Angeles Marathon, L.L.C.

SOURCE L.A. Marathon

Source: newswire

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