Saturday, October 15, 2005

BALTIMORE — Peter Omea accidentally slept in last weekend, which means he will have to report to work at 8 a.m. sharp today.

His job: to win the fifth Baltimore Marathon and its $15,000 first prize, which would be the largest payday of his career.

Omea, 27, overslept and missed the Hartford Marathon seven days ago during his first trip to the United States. Luckily, Clay Shaw, elite athlete coordinator for the Baltimore Running Festival, had a spot for the Kenyan, who trains in the mountains of Mexico.

The extra week off could help Omeo, who won the Leon Marathon in Mexico just four weeks ago.

“For one month, I’m recovered enough,” he said. “I want to run a best time.”

That will be hard. Omea set a career-best 2:13:25 marathon time four years ago in Italy, and he hasn’t run faster than 2:17 in the past two years.

Although defending champion John Itati is in Kenya with his pregnant wife, Omea’s competition will be tough. The Ukraine’s Mykola Antonenko, Russia’s Mikhail Khobotov, Kenya’s Ronald Mogaka and Lithuania’s Mindaugas Pukstas have run 2:13 or better.

Wilson Komen, a Kenyan training in Washington, returns after a 2:17:31 fourth-place finish here last year.

Russian Ramilia Burangulova, 44, will attempt to defend her 2004 title, both in the open and masters competitions. She set the course record last year at 2:40:21 and was the top masters woman at the Falmouth Road Race in August.

Two women seeking to dethrone her are Ilona Barvanova of the Ukraine and Claudia Camargo of Argentina, both mid-30s distance runners with personal bests of 2:36.

Local favorite Lee DiPietro returns as well for her fifth consecutive Baltimore Marathon. The 47-year-old former triathlete was fifth last year and owns the sixth, ninth and 10th fastest times in race history.

While these elites vie for a piece of the $100,000 cash prize purse — one of the 10 largest in the United States — more than 11,000 athletes will be participating in one of the four events that constitute today’s Baltimore Running Festival: the marathon, the half-marathon, the four-person marathon relay and the 5K.

“We have runners coming from 48 states and 24 countries,” said Lee Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports Enterprises, the event organizers.

The half marathon was sold out for the third straight year, according to Corrigan.

For the first time, the marathon course, which begins and ends at Camden Yards, will go through Fort McHenry.

“Running through Fort McHenry is a great opportunity for the runners to experience one of our city’s beautiful attractions and one of our country’s great historic landmarks,” Corrigan said.

The first six miles are hilly, especially the first two miles. The middle of the race is fairly flat around the Inner Harbor, while the last 10 miles are full of hills. The race finishes on a nice downhill to the home of the Orioles.

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