- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 20, 2008

BOSTON — A year ago, freezing rain nearly canceled the world’s oldest annual marathon. This time the weather could actually cooperate — not only for more than 25,000 entrants in tomorrow’s 112th Boston Marathon but for about 150 competitors in today’s U.S. Olympic women’s marathon team trials.

“This is probably the best weather that’s ever greeted us at Boston,” said trials favorite Deena Kastor, who was born in nearby Waltham, Mass. “This will really promote a fast race.”

The forecast of lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s bodes well for runners in the trials, which start at 8 a.m., but it could be warmer for tomorrow’s marathoners and their noon start.

“It’s great to know that the weather will be better,” said Kate O’Neill, a top contender who attended nearby Milton High School and qualified for today’s race at the scorching Chicago Marathon last October.

Both marathons will be broadcast around the world, although the rights of Internet broadcasts have become a touchy issue. Live coverage of the trials will be available at www.NBCSports.com/marathon. A 60-minute highlights show will air on cable’s MSNBC next Sunday from noon to 1 p.m.

“Playing host to the event, the Boston Athletic Association felt strongly that the U.S. Olympic team trials/women’s marathon in Boston, on the occasion of Patriots’ Day weekend and the Boston Marathon, should feature television and Internet coverage with video streaming,” said Guy Morse, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association. “These are America’s best female marathoners, and many have been training their entire athletic lives for this moment.”

Samia Akbar of Herndon has an outside shot of finishing in the top three and gaining a trip to the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

The course for the race differs radically from the traditional Boston Marathon course from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. Instead, the elite women will start at the Sheraton in downtown Boston, loop 2.2 miles through the city and then make four 6-mile loops between Boston and Cambridge over the Charles River before ending at the traditional Boston Marathon finish line.

World Championship Sports Network will offer the first-ever global Webcast of the Boston Marathon via its broadband network, beginning at 9:25 a.m. tomorrow on WCSN.com.

The Boston Marathon, with its second-largest field behind the 100th Boston’s 40,000, features a wide array of Olympians, national record holders and winners of major marathons around the globe. Headliners include defending champions Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya and Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia.

Back to challenge Cheruiyot and Grigoryeva are past Boston winners Timothy Cherigat and Rita Jeptoo. Also returning are last year’s runners-up Jelena Prokopcuka and James Kwambai.

Cheruiyot, the course record-holder who won the event in 2003, 2006 and 2007, will bid to become the first Kenyan man to claim four Boston Marathon crowns and the first four-time winner since Bill Rodgers (1975, 1978-1980).

Cycling star Lance Armstrong will line up for his third career marathon and first at Boston.

The Boston Athletic Association has put up $796,000 in prize money, up from $575,000 last year, with a $150,000 payout for the top male and female finishers.

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