- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2008

While the London Marathon has been attracting elite spring runners for many years, the Boston Marathon has given its fans two good reasons to cheer.

Earlier this month, marathon officials announced that 2008 Olympian Ryan Hall has committed to Boston, hoping to become the first American male to win the 113-year-old race since Greg Meyer in 1983.

Last week, one of the marathon world’s upstart runners — Olympian and World Championship bronze medalist Kara Goucher — committed to running the Boston Marathon on April 20, seeking to become the first American female to win since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985. The first official women’s race was in 1972.

Goucher made a stirring debut last month in New York, clocking 2:25:53 for third place and setting a number of U.S. women’s marathon records in the process: fastest debut, fastest time run on the course and fastest time of 2008.

Her coach, Alberto Salazar, won the Boston Marathon in 1982, eking out a two-second victory in a then-event record time of 2:08:52.

Cherry Blossom update — As expected, registration for the April 5 Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run opened and closed in three hours Dec. 16.

Even the race’s host hotel, the Grand Hyatt, is full. Not only is the hotel a change from the past several years, the expo location has changed as well, moving to the National Building Museum in the District on April 4. Note to the wise: Do not go to the Crystal Gateway Marriott that weekend looking for a race.

Last-minute rush — Here are some quick, inexpensive gift ideas to save your neck:

• Be charitable and buy your special runner friend or family member a 2009 membership to USA Track and Field or a running club membership. USATF charges $30 for adults and $20 for those 18 and under.

You can become a member of a club like Montgomery County Road Runners for $25 per individual or $40 per family, which includes discounts on the club’s many races.

• How about a free entry to a road race or track meet? Most road races throw in the free T-shirt to make the gift that much more memorable.

• Publications are always good possibilities. Track & Field News, Running Times, National Masters News, Runners World, books and DVDs on running - they all fit within a small budget.

• You can easily wow somebody with a gift certificate from a running store. The gift will go a lot further if it’s used after the holidays during the markdown season.

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