- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 9, 2004

American distance runner Bob Kennedy will travel to New York this week to announce his long-awaited marathon debut at the New York City Marathon in November.

Kennedy, 33, has intimated for many years his interest in moving from the 5,000- and 10,000-meter distance to the marathon. His debut follows those of Alan Culpepper, Meb Keflezighi and Dan Browne, all 10,000-meter veterans who made the jump to marathons and qualified for the Olympic event in Athens this summer.

Neither Kennedy nor agent Tom Radcliffe returned phone calls for comment. Kennedy’s running adviser, Marcus O’Sullivan, would not specifically confirm Kennedy’s New York intention, but he did not deny it either.

“That’s been in the works for a couple of years,” said O’Sullivan, who coaches at Villanova and ran 101 sub-4-minute miles in his career. “It’s been on his agenda. We talked about it 3 years ago. After the accident.”

The accident occurred May8, 2000, when an automobile hit Kennedy’s car from behind and left him with bruised vertebra. It cost him seven weeks of training and another six weeks of intense training leading up to the U.S. Olympic trials in July, where he finished sixth in the 5,000 meters and failed to qualify.

Kennedy had made the Olympic team in 1992 and 1996 and finished sixth in the 1996 Olympic 5,000 meters in Atlanta.

He got untracked again shortly after winning his fourth U.S. 5,000-meter title in 2001. After running sluggishly for a while, he discovered he was anemic and had an underactive thyroid, which cost him a shot at the 2001 world outdoor championships. The current American record holder in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters took off the remainder of 2001. With medication, he has revived his running career.

Last year he ran the second fastest 5,000-meter time by an American (he owns the top time of 12:58.21 in 1996). And last week at a meet at Stanford, Kennedy placed fifth in the 10,000-meter run in a highly competitive race, running 27:37.45, well under the Olympic “A” standard of 27:49.

Now he has his sights on the U.S. Olympic trials in July and the Olympics in August, then three months later the marathon in New York.

“In the back of my mind, I’d love a crack at the marathon,” Kennedy recently told USA Track & Field.

Looks like he may get it.

Area women strong — Washington area women scored well at the Broad Street Run 10-Miler on May2 in Philadelphia.

Leading the way was Silver Spring’s Naoko Ishibe, second in 58:34. Following in the top 50: Sharon Lemberger of the District (fourth, 58:43); Lisa Thomas, Alexandria (10th, 61:40); Lee Di Pietro, Ruxton, Md. (11th, 61:06); former Washingtonian Martha Merz, Mystic, Conn. (13th, 61:25); Sharon Donovan, Washington (17th, 62:22); Maria Kozloski, Washington (43rd, 66:33); and Michele Dowling, Reston (45th, 66:04).

Biggest marathons — Last year’s Marine Corps Marathon ranked 11th in the world and seventh in the United States in total finishers with 15,973, according to USA Track & Field Road Running Information Center.

New York City led the way as the largest marathon in the world with 34,729 finishers. And for the first time in history, four marathons — New York City, Chicago, London and Berlin — each reported more than 30,000 finishers in the same year (2003).

Double the fun — The organizers of the Leesburg 10K have decided to add a 20-kilometer distance to the popular summertime race Aug.8. It won’t be a bad time to get a good pulse on your fitness levels as you embark on a fall marathon training program.

There are not many 20-kilometer races — not quite a half-marathon at 12.4 miles — in the metropolitan area. Much of the race will be run on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

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