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Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon Announces Elite Entrants

NAPA, Calif. — February 26, 2011 — The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon announced its elite field today. A strong group of top runners will join a sold-out crowd of 2,400 participants for the 33rd annual race on Sunday, March 6, 2011. 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.

This year, marathon participants from ten countries and 44 U.S. states will line up with aspirations of crossing a brand new, spacious finish line in the parking lot in front of Napa’s Vintage High School. The new finish allows more space for spectators, runners, and finish line logistical support and amenities.

In addition several notable U.S. marathoners will be on hand as VIPs including Olympians Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Magdalena Lewy Boulet who will participate on a training run—plus Dick Beardsley, America’s all-time fifth fastest marathoner.

The Napa Valley Marathon’s 26.2-mile race course, which is certified (for distance) by USA Track & Field, offers a unique, runner-friendly, and awe-inspiring marathon experience. The point-to-point 26.2-mile route 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.

On this speedy course, a group of about half a dozen women and several men will attempt to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon, which will take place in Houston, Tex. on January 14, 2012. The Trials race will select the three men and three women for the U.S. Olympic marathon squad that will compete in London.

“Napa provides a good course for athletes looking for a Marathon Trials qualifying time, especially if there is a pack at the front going for the same goal,” said 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson. “They just need to be patient because the course has some downhills in the beginning, it’s generally cool in the early morning, and you tend to want to go out fast, Then, it warms up, and the hills can begin to take their toll.”

The standards for entry into the Marathon Trials, set by USA Track & Field, are demanding. Trials aspirants at Napa must finish the 26.2-mile distance in 2 hours and 19 minutes or faster (men) or 2:46:00 or faster (women). The qualifying window for the Trials began on January 1, 2009 and will end 30 days before the event. In 2008, just three weeks before the qualifying deadline, four women qualified for the ’08 Women’s Marathon Trials at the Napa Valley Marathon.

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.

Here are some of the top elite athletes who will vie for titles at this year’s Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon:

TOP WOMEN

Camille Herron, 29, of West Lafayette, Ind. aims to win the women’s division at the 2011 Napa Valley Marathon, and she has the credentials to do it. Herron ran a personal best marathon of 2:38:23 for eighth place at the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon which served as USA Track & Field’s national marathon championship. She qualified for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, and has already met the standard for the 2012 Trials in four different races. She is making her first Napa Valley Marathon appearance.

Caroline Cretti, 26, of Berkeley, Calif. also has Marathon Trials experience. The Williams College (Massachusetts) 15-time All-American finished the 2008 Marathon Trials in 2:40:12 for 21st place. She was the youngest athlete among the top-25 finishers.

Patty Rogers, 36, of Lakewood, Colo. is a marathon veteran who hopes her Napa effort will yield a second Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Rogers finished the 2006 Houston Marathon in 2:45:34 and qualified for the 2008 Trials where she ran 2:49:18.

Additional top contenders in the strong women’s field include:

  • YiOu Wang (25, Mill Valley, Calif.) who hopes to improve upon her third-place finish at last year’s Napa Valley Marathon

  • Katherine Koski (38, Duluth, Minn.), a 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier with a 2:42 marathon best

  • Kami Semick (44, Bend, Ore.), a 2009 and 2010 USA Track & Field Ultrarunner of the Year and 2009 100K World Champion. She also excels at the marathon distance with a personal record of 2:45:24. Semick is pointing towards the 56-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa on May 29th where she hopes to improve upon last year’s fourth place finish.

In addition, one of America’s top female Olympic marathoners will participate in a training effort. Magdalena Lewy Boulet (Oakland, Calif.) is an official starter, but does not plan to finish. Instead, she will do a fast-paced workout at Napa as she prepares for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in late March, the London Marathon in April, and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2008, Lewy Boulet placed second at the Trials and earned a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Beijing. She is the fifth fastest U.S. woman ever at the marathon distance with a 2:26:22 personal best.

TOP MEN

Kevin Pool, 28, of Folsom, Calif. is making his debut at the Napa Valley Marathon. His best marathon to date was at the 2009 California International Marathon where he turned in a 2:22:23. At the USA Half Marathon Championships last month in Houston—a race that provided a preview of the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials course—Pool placed 24th in 1:06:30. Pool’s aim is to return to Houston and compete in the Trials.

Carlos Siqueiros, 30, of Menlo Park, Calif. won the 2007 Portland Marathon in 2:25:25. He hopes to return to that form at Napa.

Siqueiros’ training partner, Kota Reichert (27, Menlo Park, Calif.) is also entered. The full-time physical therapist at Stanford University Hospital owns a marathon best of 2:29:29, but hopes to lower that by five or six minutes on the fast Napa course.

Chris Mocko, 25, of Palo Alto, Calif. is aiming for a finish time in the low 2:20s. The recent track and cross country runner for Stanford University has a 5K personal record of 14:26, and he might surprise himself in only his second marathon. Mocko’s debut marathon last December yielded a finishing time of 2:32:40.

The 2011 edition of the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon has again been selected by the Road Runners Club of America as its Western Regional Marathon Championship, a designation it has received since 2009. Marathon weekend includes a Sports and Fitness Expo on Friday, March 4th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 5th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa. Also on slate is the marathon’s popular Marathon College on Saturday, March 5th, an innovative speaker/seminar program that includes a “faculty” composed of respected running authorities and celebrity runners.

The 2011 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon starts on Sunday, March 6th at 7:00 a.m. sharp in Calistoga on the Silverado Trail near the intersection of Rosedale Road. The road course runs the length of the beautiful Silverado Trail and finishes at Vintage High School in Napa.

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.

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