There’s a $1 million payoff waiting for an American marathoner to claim. Nobody, however, appears capable of taking it.
Before the start of the year, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., offered the whopping bonus to the man or woman who breaks the U.S. record by the largest margin in the marathon between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.
So far, no one has come close to the men’s mark of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 47 seconds, by Bob Kempainen at Boston in 1994 or the women’s record of 2:21:21 by Joan Benoit Samuelson at Chicago in 1985.
Americans get another crack at the money in today’s 101st running of the Boston Marathon. Neither the men’s nor women’s record is expected to fall, despite the presence of some of the nation’s elite runners.
The men’s field includes 1996 Olympian Keith Brantly and 1993 world champion Mark Plaatjes, and the women’s entries include 1996 Twin Cities Marathon champion Olga Appell and 1991 and 1993 Boston runner-up Kim Jones.
“I have to get to 2:10 before I can get to 2:08,” said Brantly, whose best marathon time is 2:12:48.
Jones believes Samuelson’s record - the second-fastest women’s marathon time ever - is hardly attainable.
“The bonus is on everyone’s mind,” the Spokane runner said, “but Joanie made it very difficult for all of us - and I told her that. Everything has to be just perfect for that runner, including a tailwind at Boston.”
The men’s field includes the first five finishers from last year - champion Moses Tanui, Ezekiel Bitok, three-time winner Cosmas Ndeti, Lameck Aguta and Sammy Lelei, all Kenyans.
Three-time defending champion Uta Pippig of Germany tops the women’s field, which includes Olympic gold medalist Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia, two-time world cross country champion and 1992 Olympic 10,000-meter gold medalist Derartu Tula of Ethiopia.
Castro, Loroupe win
Domingos Castro of Portugal came within 1 minute, 1 second of the world record Sunday to win the Rotterdam Marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 51 seconds at Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Kenyan Tegla Loroupe won the women’s event in 2:22.07