Don’t bother trying to sign up for this year’s Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon.
The popular race, now in its 35th year, sold out on Christmas Eve. There are 2,600 runners from around the country registered for the March 3 event, which takes place on a point to point course covering 26.2 miles from Calistoga to Napa. The race starts at 7 a.m. from Rosedale Road and the Silverado Trail in Calistoga.
“We encourage people to sign up early,” co-race director Dave Hill said Wednesday. “We still have people now that are still trying to get in. It just shows the quality and the appeal of the marathon and certainly the Napa Valley, because people want to come to the Napa Valley. They like the Napa Valley. They like the hospitable feel and the comfortable feel of the Valley.”
California has the largest representation of runners, with 1,788 entered, or 68.1 percent of the field. Two of those runners, Chris Mocko and Devon Yanko of San Francisco, won men’s and women’s titles last year.
Mocko broke the finish-line tape at Vintage High School in 2 hours, 24 minutes, and 38 seconds, an improvement of 2 minutes and 24 seconds over his 2011 winning time. Yanko ascended the winner’s podium after recording a new women’s course record of 2:39:37. It was the second Napa Valley Marathon win for Yanko.
“We have a pretty large field of elite runners,” said Hill. “If the weather holds the way it is now, even though it’s chilly in the morning, it’s going to be a really, really good day.”
This year’s marathon will serve as the Road Runners Club of America National Marathon Championship Race. Men’s and women’s overall winners will receive their weight in wine from the sponsoring Silverado Trail Wineries Association, and each finisher in the race gets a medal. Kaiser Permanente is the presenting sponsor.
The early-registration cost was $100. It went up to $250.
“The marathon sells itself,” Hill said. “We sell the Valley. We want people to come here and see how good we have it and how good everything is here in the Valley.
“More importantly, we’re selling wellness. And with Kaiser Permanente being our primary sponsor, it fits right in.”
There are 66 runners from Texas, 64 from Nevada, 61 from Colorado, 58 from Oregon, 42 from Illinois, 39 from New York, 37 from Washington, and 30 from Florida.
The 2013 Napa Valley Marathon’s theme is “Honoring Women in Marathoning.” Race organizers will honor the achievements of four runners — Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Jacqueline Hansen, Nina Kuscsik and Lorraine Moller. They will be in Napa for race weekend and participate in the marathon college on March 2 at the Napa Valley Marriott.
The emergence of women in marathoning will be the keynote presentation at the marathon college. A special presentation on the subject of women pioneers in the sport will highlight the day-long marathon college and begins at noon.
Benoit-Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984, will be among the panel of female pioneers, who will put into perspective the giant strides women have made in the past half-century.
“We thought it would be a good opportunity to honor women and their role in the sport of marathoning, the sport of running,” said Hill. “It’s not just marathoning, it’s the sport of running itself. We’d like the honor them and show them how much we appreciate what they’ve done for the sport.
“We’re really honored to have these women come out here and participate with us. They’re here to talk about their past accomplishments. They’re the people that have done an awful lot for the sport.”
In a testament to her tenacity and longevity, Benoit-Samuelson qualified for U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She won the Boston Marathon in 1983 with a then world’s best time of 2:22:43. She continues to set age group records and will run on March 3 in the Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K Fun Run.
Hansen is one of the pioneers of the women’s marathon. She was the first woman to race under 2:45 (1974) and the first under 2:40 (1975). She won Boston in 1973, the second year women were granted official status of that historic race.
Kuscsik is one of the initial handful of American women running pioneers. Her first marathon was the 1969 Boston Marathon. She has won at Boston and New York.
Moller is one of the longest-running, best-performing female marathoners in the world. She has the distinction of being the only woman to have run in the first four Women’s Olympic Marathons. She won the bronze medal in the 1992 Games.
The marathon college also features a presentation at 11 a.m. by Dick Beardsley, who holds the NVM course record. In 2010, Beardsley was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.
“Secrets of Running the Napa Valley Marathon Course” is the subject of a presentation at 1:30 p.m.
There are pasta dinners on March 2 at the Napa Valley Marriott and in Calistoga.
The Napa Valley Marathon course and race are certified and sanctioned by USA Track and Field. The race is a qualifier for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
“It’s a great course,” said Hill. “We encourage the community to come out and cheer these runners on.”
Over 1,300 volunteers assist the race, working at the start and finish areas and at aid stations on the course.
The NVM features a two-day expo, on March 1 (1-6 p.m.) and March 2 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Napa Valley Marriott. It’s free of charge to attend.
An awards ceremony on race day for first-place finishers will be held at the Vintage High quad area at 12:30 p.m.
All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities in the Napa Valley.
Further registration and spectator information is available at www.napavalleymarathon.org or by calling (707) 255-2609.