NAPA, Calif. — February 14, 2018 — A field of determined entrants from 16 countries, 44 U.S. states, and Washington, D.C. will gather in California’s Napa Valley for the 40th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon (KP-NVM), the 2018 RRCA National Marathon Championship, and Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K Run on Sunday, March 4, 2018. American marathoning icon Joan Benoit Samuelson (Freeport, Maine) will return to this year’s event as a special guest and competitor 34 years after winning the inaugural U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials race in 1984 and then earning the gold medal in Los Angeles at the first women’s Olympic Games marathon.
On Saturday, March 3, Benoit Samuelson will be the keynote speaker among a panel of distinguished speakers at the annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon College. The Marathon College is an innovative speaker/seminar program that includes a "faculty" composed of respected running authorities and celebrity runners. It takes place at KP-NVM’s Sports and Fitness Expo set for Friday and Saturday on race weekend at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa. The Expo, including the Marathon College, are free for the general public. Benoit Samuelson will deliver her keynote address from noon to 1:30 p.m.
The following day (Sunday, March 4) Benoit Samuelson, who turned 60 years old last May, will take to the roads in KP-NVM’s companion race, the Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K. The 5K begins at Vintage High School in Napa at 8 a.m. and ends at the marathon finish line (also at Vintage High School) before the first marathoners arrive at approximately 9:20 a.m.
Benoit Samuelson’s legacy in the sport of road running is unmatched. She was ranked #1 in the world in the marathon on two occasions and is a former world and U.S. record holder in that event. In addition to the Olympic Games, her major victories include wins at the Boston and Chicago Marathons. At age 50, Samuelson qualified for and competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon. Perhaps most significantly, with her tireless advocacy, speaking engagements and public appearances, Samuelson has been USA’s most high-profile advocate for distance running, and especially women’s running, for decades. In 2004, Samuelson was inducted into USA Track & Field’s Hall of Fame.
In 2013, at the age of 55, Benoit Samuelson competed in KP-NVM’s Kiwanis Club 5K where she placed second woman and 8th overall in 18:46 missing the U.S. women’s age 55-59 record by 14 seconds. She had hoped to eclipse the current U.S. women’s age 60-64 record and world best of 19:04 at this year’s Kiwanis Club 5K, however she hasn’t returned to full running form after having arthroscopic knee surgery in late November.
In 2008, at age 50, Benoit Samuelson ran 20 miles of the Napa Valley Marathon as a training run in preparation for the 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials where she ran 2:49:08.
“It’s the cutest, scenic, undulating course I know,” Benoit Samuelson said. “I think it’s a potential PR course for many runners.”
The point-to-point 26.2-mile route, which is certified by USA Track & Field for accurate distance, runs from Calistoga to Napa through the spectacular Napa Valley, California’s renowned wine producing region.
As a peak preview to her keynote presentation, “A Conversation with Joanie,” at the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon Expo,” Benoit Samuelson said that one of the topics she will touch upon is “storytelling as a way to motivate oneself before a race.” She will also talk about how she supplements her running with Nordic skiing, road bicycling, and indoor spinning on a stationary bike in her training regimen.
Regardless of their talent or speed, many runners will jump at the opportunity to meet Benoit Samuelson—an acknowledged pioneer and stateswoman in long distance running. They can do so at both the Marathon Expo and at the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon and accompanying 5K the following day.
"Joanie is definitely a charm. I can't think of a better ambassador of running and motivational speaker for our 40th anniversary race," said Rich Benyo, a former executive editor of Runner's World
magazine who co-directs the marathon with David Hill. "She's a magnet for runners of all ages, shapes, and abilities who just want to spend a single moment, or an hour, in her magical presence."
The 2018 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon and will serve as the Road Runners Club of America National Marathon Championship.
Over the years, KP-NVM has received numerous accolades. On January 9, 2018 Forbes Travel Guide rated KP-NVM among the top 13 marathons in the world “worth traveling for,” an honor it has bestowed on KP-NVM four times in the past six years. On January 28, 2016 The Economic Times ranked KP-NVM at the top of its list of the “world’s best marathon locations to inspire you to lace up and get training.” Runner’s World magazine selected KP-NVM as one of the top ten U.S. marathons for first-time marathon participants in its January, 2011 issue. Once again this year, My Best Runs/World’s Best Road Races has ranked KP-NVM as one of the world’s best 100 races (regardless of distance). American Express’ Departures magazine declared KP-NVM as #7 in their “ten travel-worthy races that make for truly memorable journeys on the run.”
For more information about the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, please visit the marathon’s web site at www.napavalleymarathon.org. Runners can register for the marathon and Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K Run online.
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The Napa Valley Marathon appreciates generous sponsor support from Kaiser Permanente/Thrive
, Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, Legendary Napa Valley, Road Runners Club of America, Whole Foods Market, Gatorade Endurance, MarathonFoto, Napa Running Company, Running USA, USA Track & Field, KCBS AM and FM Radio, KPIX CBS5, KBCW 44 Cable 12, XFINITY, KVON 1440 AM, KVYN/99.3 The Vine, Wallaby Organic, Napa Smith Brewery, California Half and Full Marathon Series, and NakedWines.com