Five-race festival drawing names, numbers

Kimayo, Kolpakova return to defend marathon titles

Running

October 02, 2003|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The field for the 2003 Baltimore Running Festival, set for Oct. 18, is growing in quantity and quality.

Over the past two days, the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon was bolstered by the addition of last year's champions, Kenya's Erick Kimayo and Russia's Elvira Kolpakova.

Kolpakova, 31, will be seeking her third straight victory here. Counting the Maryland Marathon, which anchored the local running calendar from 1973 to 1989, no one has ever won three marathon titles in Baltimore.

Kolpakova won the inaugural event in 2001 on a hilly course and repeated last year on a flatter layout.

The course has undergone more minor adjustments, but she'll be pushed again by Lee DiPietro, the 45-year-old from Ruxton who's fresh off an American age-group record in the half-marathon, dipping to 1 hour, 18 minutes, 12 seconds in Philadelphia.

Kolpakova won here last year in 2:50:00, 3:22 ahead of DiPietro. A former triathlete, DiPietro is coming off one of her best periods of training ever and should give Kolpakova a stiffer test this time.

"I've been averaging 110 miles a week," DiPietro said. "I logged 13 hours last week, and that 120 miles was probably my biggest week of training ever."

Fila, the apparel company with U.S. headquarters in Sparks, will again supply talent on the men's side through its Discovery Kenya program. Yesterday, the local office learned Kimayo will return here.

Kimayo, 34, remains the site director at Fila's Kapsait Camp, which is at an altitude of 10,000 feet. His last race was here a year ago, when he pulled away from countryman Charles Kamindo in the 22nd mile and won in 2:17:43, the fastest local marathon since 1977, when Olympian Gary Bjorklund took the Maryland Marathon in 2:13:46.

The Baltimore Running Festival is close to surpassing last year's head count of 7,000. On-line registration at thebaltimoremarathon.com remains available for all five events.

With 2,500 registered, the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon has drawn slightly better than the marathon. The GEICO Direct Team Relay has 300 teams so far. The Fila 5-K is up to 600, and 100 children have signed up for the Fun Run.

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