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Boston nets '08 marathon trials

Women to qualify in a separate race

Because of the history of hosting a marathon every year for more than a century, the enthusiasm of thousands swarming the city for one event, and the luster of finishing under the image of the Hancock building in Copley Square, Boston was USA Track and Field's ideal site to host the 2008 women's Olympic Marathon Trials.

``Boston is very important to the sport," said Guy Morse, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, via teleconference yesterday.

``It's a mecca to marathon runners across the country."

The women's trials, to be run the morning of April 20, 2008, will complement the 112th running of the Boston Marathon, which will be run the following day. The top three finishers in the trials will represent the US in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

``Some of us have been working on this for 2 1/2 years," said Glenn Latimer, chairman of USATF's long-distance running committee. ``So, for some of us, this is the end of one road and the start of another."

USATF awarded the men's trials to New York, which will be run either Nov. 2 or 3, 2007. The New York City Marathon will be run Nov. 4.

``I think the history and tradition of both Boston and New York are going to be huge for the future of our sport," said Jim Estes, USATF's long-distance running program manager.

Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of the New York Roadrunners, which worked to bring the trials to the Big Apple, said the move to two of the country's larger media markets gives marathon runners exposure they haven't experienced in the past.

``By being in Boston and New York, we're putting the athletes on the highest level possible," she said. ``The world's eye will be on them."

The women's trials will run on a specially designed criterion course starting and ending on Boylston Street, touring the Boston landscape from Commonwealth Ave., across the Charles River on the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, and back.

``This is a downtown course in a city synonymous with running," Latimer said.

Akron, Ohio, and the Twin Cities were also bidders for the women's trials, while New York bid on the men's trials exclusively.

``There was unprecedented interest in these trials this go-around, and it shows in how everything worked out," Estes said.

Boston typically expects around 40,000 people for the Boston Marathon, so the task of holding two major marathons in the same weekend is arduous.

``We realize the level of support we'll need from both cities, both Boston and Cambridge, and in developing this route, we have been working with them in that regard," Morse said.

Beyond that, pairing the trials so closely to the major races creates a problem for runners who would have to choose between participating in the major marathons and running in the Olympic trials.

Both trials will offer $250,000 in prize money, but the breakdown of the purse has yet to be determined.

The women's trials will also be run in the spring, which puts it within months of the opening of the 2008 Olympics Aug. 8.

``You just have to get mentally ready beforehand," said Colleen De Reuck, the 2004 Olympic trials champion.

``You just have to know you're going to run in April, and then again whenever the Olympics are further down the line."

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