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St. Louis to host Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials


Jill Geer
Chief Public Affairs Officer
USA Track & Field
(508) 520-1529

MOBILE, Ala. – St. Louis will host the 2004 Olympic Team Trials – Women’s Marathon, USA Track & Field announced Thursday at its 2001 Annual Meeting. The 2003 USA women’s marathon champions also will be held in St. Louis.

A century after hosting the first Olympics on American soil and the first marathon west of the Mississippi River, St. Louis will again welcome the nation’s top women’s distance runners as a gateway to Olympic glory on April 4, 2004. The Olympic Games will be held in Athens, Greece, in August, 2004.

The St. Louis Sports Commission, Spirit of St. Louis Marathon, and St. Louis 2004 partnered on the successful bid, casting the race as a cornerstone to the region’s yearlong civic celebration marking the centennial of the 1904 Olympics and World’s Fair, and the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase treaty signing and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

“Competition for hosting the Olympic Trials was intense,” said USATF CEO Craig Masback. “St. Louis put together an attractive bid package that incorporated all the elements that our athletes have said are important to them: prize money, a fast and fair course and their own race. All of us at USA Track & Field are looking forward to coming to St. Louis in 2003 and 2004 for a great event.”

St. Louis beat out competing bids from Birmingham, Ala.; Washington, D.C.; and New York City in a selection process conducted by USATF’s Women’s Long Distance Running Committee. As part of the selection process, the Committee surveyed athletes to determine their priorities for the Olympic Trials. The rank order of priorities were prize money, a separate start if the race was to be held in a mixed-gender race, a moderate course and television coverage.

St. Louis will provide $250,000 in prize money in addition to paying travel and lodging costs for athletes who achieve the Olympic Trials “A” qualifying standard of 2:39:59. In 2000, 35 met the Olympic Trials “A” standard. Athletes who qualify with a time faster than 2:48:00 may compete in the race but do not receive funding. The qualifying window for athletes to achieve their qualifying times is November 4, 2001 (at the New York City Marathon) and January 1, 2002 through early March, 2004. Olympic qualifying standards have not yet been set by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

“This is a tremendously special day for all of us in St. Louis,” said Sports Commission President Frank Viverito. “Our region is very proud of its rich history and there is perhaps no better event that connects 2004 with 1904 than the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. We genuinely tried to impress upon the Women’s Long Distance Running Committee how much the Marathon Trials will mean to our community. In no other city but St. Louis will the 2004 Trials carry as much significance or historical relevance.”

In 2004, women’s marathoners competing in the Olympic Trials will run on a four-lap criterium course in Forest Park, site of the 1904 World’s Fair. A well-shaded course of moderate hills, it provides the “fair” course requested by USA women’s runners. The Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials will be held on the same day as the Spirit of St. Louis Marathon, which will be held on a different course. Nearly 3,300 people took part in the 2001 Spirit of St. Louis marathon and its affiliated events, with participation expected to as much as double by 2004.

“In 2004, St. Louis will host a series of community-wide events that showcase our recent revitalization accomplishments and mark our rich history and promising future,” said former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth, chairman of St. Louis 2004. “It is with great pride and enthusiasm that the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials will be among the highlights of a spectacular year in St. Louis. The Trials will create a wonderful excitement in our region. And in return, we look forward to providing the event a one-of-a-kind experience that only St. Louis can offer in 2004.”

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