- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2009

Retired elite distance runner Bill Reifsnyder will be the new race director of the National Marathon and Half Marathon, race officials are slated to announce Monday.

Reifsnyder, 47, brings 32 years of experience to the District, most useful being his time in global brand marketing.

“The unique thing about the SunTrust National Marathon is that the nation’s capital is the backdrop,” said Reifsnyder, a two-time U.S. champion in the marathon (1989, 1991) with a personal-best 2:12:09. “I bring a skill set as an elite athlete and a global marketer. I am hoping to take the event to the global level.”

Since retiring from professional running in the mid-1990s, Reifsnyder has built an impressive resume focused on running while working for the Running Times, Adidas, New Balance and Boathouse Sports.

Reifsnyder and Chris Brown of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, producer of the National Marathon, began a discussion about Reifsnyder helping to fulfill the group’s goal of taking the race from regional to national, then international - a goal that includes focused global marketing.

“I love the entrepreneurial aspect of this event,” said Reifsnyder, who will formally start July 20. “There are so many areas we’ve talked about, new things we want to initiate. One thing I will do is get in there and write a five-year plan which should be very attractive for sponsors. It’s like owning a business within a business.”

Reifsnyder said he will relocate to the District from Philadelphia, but he is no stranger to the area. He grew up not far away in Williamsport, Pa., and ran for Bucknell, where he was a record-setting All-American three times in cross-country, was All-East eight times in cross-country and track, and led Bucknell to 10 conference championships.

After graduation in 1984, Reifsnyder took to the roads. He won his first national title in 1989 at the New Jersey Waterfront Marathon in Jersey City, and two years later he ran 46:32 at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in the District - still the sixth-fastest American over that distance. That same year, he won his second national title at the Columbus (Ohio) Marathon in 2:12:39.

The closest Reifsnyder could get to his ultimate goal - the Olympics - was in his return to Columbus a year later for the 1992 U.S. Olympic marathon trials. In warm, windy conditions, Reifsnyder and Keith Brantly tried to run away with the race but near 22 miles they were caught by a pack of Steve Spence, Ed Eyestone and Bob Kempainen. Reifsnyder ended up fifth.

About his contract, Reifsnyder said: “I think we’re talking three years, but there’s no term. I am thinking of growing this event and being here for a while. The sky’s the limit.”

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