Press Room

Napa Valley Marathon Summons Olympic Spirit Among Top Contenders


NAPA, Calif. - February 18, 2008 - When 2,300 participants line up for the 30th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon on Sunday, March 2, 2008, they will run a beautiful, rural course through Napa's wine country that has not changed since day one of the event in 1979. Not many marathons can make that claim. Runners like the Napa Valley Marathon's stability because its 26.2-mile route, which is certified (for distance) by USA Track & Field, offers a unique, runner-friendly, and awe-inspiring marathon experience.

This year, that running experience will be enhanced, in particular, by
1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, who will deliver the event's keynote address on Saturday, March 1 at 1:00 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa (race headquarters).

"For beauty and performance, Napa is simply my overall favorite course,"
said Tony Rossmann, a San Francisco attorney and law professor at UC-Berkeley who has run more than 300 marathons and ultramarathons "For year-in and year-out consistency, the presentation of the race is always first rate. The consistency is the one thing that really makes Napa stand out."

This year Rossmann is aiming for his 26th finish at the Napa Valley Marathon.

Organizational detail and unparalleled scenery have prompted Runner's World magazine to select the Napa Valley Marathon as one of the top 20 marathons in America and Competitor magazine to name the race the best rural marathon in the nation. The point-to-point 26.2-mile race course runs the length of the famed Napa Valley wine-growing region. Runners are treated to panoramic views of the valley, flowering fruit trees, and dormant vineyards carpeted with golden mustard flowers.

"Our runners tell us that we're very successful with the format that we have now, so there's no need to change," said race co-director Rich Benyo. "We've been lucky compared to other marathon race courses where sometimes road construction mandates changes. Our rural nature has served us well, plus the fact that when God made the Napa Valley he made it exactly 26.2 miles."

This year's marathon is nearly sold out, and race registration will close within days, according to race co-director Dave Hill. The 2,300 entry limit for the race is largely determined by the number of available hotel rooms in the world-renowned Napa Valley wine producing and tasting region.

The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon has a rich history, however the 30th anniversary edition might emerge as its best race ever.

In an Olympic year, Olympic themes are at the fore at Napa. Off the course, Benoit Samuelson, who is one of the most successful U.S. distance runners ever, will provide sage advice to novice and experienced runners alike. Benoit Samuelson won the gold medal at the inaugural women's Olympic marathon at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She is the only American woman to win a gold medal in an Olympic Games marathon.

On the course, a group of six to ten talented female athletes will run Napa's generally fast route in an attempt to qualify for the 2008 U.S.
Olympic Team Trials-Women's Marathon, which will take place in Boston on April 20. The Trials race will select the three women for the U.S.
women's Olympic marathon squad who will compete in Beijing, China. Benoit Samuelson won the inaugural U.S. Women's Marathon Trials race in 1984, and has qualified for every Olympic marathon trials race -- seven in all -- which includes the 2008 version.

This year's Napa Valley Marathon may include the deepest women's field in the race's history. (Media Note: The top entrants will be officially announced in a subsequent press release approximately a week before the
race.) The Napa Valley Marathon's women's course record of 2:39:43 was set by Diana Fitzpatrick in 1992. Dick Beardsley, a two-time Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier (1980 and 1988), holds the men's course record of 2:16:20 set in 1987.

Beardsley, 51, of Austin, Texas, is a fixture at the Napa Valley Marathon in recent years as a popular guest and speaker. He will return to this year's race to defend his 2007 masters (age 40 and over) title at Napa.

Besides the marathoners who now make the Napa Valley Marathon their annual ritual of spring, the 2008 race will host more first time participants. By extending the finishing time cutoff from 5-1/2 hours in previous versions to 6 hours this year, the race will accommodate slower runners who otherwise might not enter.

The 2008 edition of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon has again been selected by the Road Runners Club of America as its National Marathon Championship, a designation it has received since 1998. Runners may also choose the companion Kiwanis 5K Run, which starts and finishes at Vintage High School on marathon morning.

Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon weekend includes a Sports and Fitness Expo, Saturday, March 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa. Also on slate is the marathon's popular Marathon College, an innovative speaker/seminar program in its seventh year that includes a "faculty" composed of respected running authorities and celebrity runners.

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 economic assessment conducted by the marathon in 2004 estimated that the local economic impact of the marathon is between $593,000 and $1,465,000 annually in direct spending. The average marathon participant brings two additional people with them for the race.

The marathon starts on Sunday, March 2 at 7:00 a.m. sharp in Calistoga on the Silverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The race finishes at Vintage High School in Napa. Top runners are expected to reach the finish between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Runners will receive official times up until 1:00 p.m. when the course closes.

EVENT ENTRY: Entry is limited to the first 2,300 registrants. Runners can register for the marathon online or download an entry form at Alternatively, contact the race via e-mail at, or telephone: (707) 255-2609. The registration fee for the race is $100. There is no race-day registration.
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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.

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Mark Winitz
Win-It!z Sports Public Relations
Tel: (650) 948-0618