Birmingham to host 2004 Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chief Public Affairs Officer
USA Track & Field
MOBILE, Ala. - Birmingham, Alabama, will host the 2004 Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon, USA Track & Field (USATF) announced Friday at its 2001 Annual Meeting.
“I’m especially pleased that we are opening up new territory,” said USATF President Bill Roe. “This is a place that has never had an Olympic Trials before. I hope we’ll be able to infect a new group of people with Olympic fever. We are especially grateful to (University of Alabama-Birmingham Athletic Director, USOC vice president and former USATF vice president) Herman Frazier for his leadership role.”
The Alabama Sports Foundation and Birmingham Marathon, Inc., organizers of the Mercedes Marathon, partnered on the successful bid, which will provide $350,000 in prize money and development funds for the Olympic Trials and men’s long distance running. The race will be held February 7, 2004, with the Olympic Games to follow in August in Athens, Greece. Birmingham also will provide travel and accommodations to all athletes who qualify with a U.S. Olympic Trials “A” standard time of 2:20:00 or faster. Athletes qualifying with an Olympic Trials “B” standard time of 2:20:01 to 2:22:00 may compete in the race but do not receive funding. Olympic qualifying standards have not been set yet by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Birmingham’s own Scott Strand qualified for the Olympic Trials at the 2001 New York Marathon, where he ran 2:21:16 to finish 10th among Americans. Meeting the Olympic Trials “A” standard in New York were Scott Larson, Clint Verran, Chris Lundstrom, Shawn Found and Keith Dowling.
Birmingham beat out competing bids from New York City, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., in a selection process conducted by USATF's Men's Long Distance Running Committee.
"This is a tremendous victory for Birmingham," said Alabama Sports Foundation Chairman Dr. Larry Lemak. "To be chosen for both the 2003 U.S. Men’s Marathon Championships and the 2004 Men’s Olympic Marathon Team Trials gives us a great opportunity to make Birmingham a training city for men’s long distance runners."
On February 7, 2004, men's marathoners competing in the Olympic Trials will run on a criterium course in downtown Birmingham. Our Birmingham Marathon will be run on the following morning on its regular course. “Running the 2003 U.S. Men’s Marathon Championships and the 2004 Men’s Marathon Trials on the day before our marathon gives the everyday runner an opportunity to watch the heroes of our own sport compete,” said Valerie McLean, President of Birmingham Marathon, Inc., and owner of the Trak Shak Running Shop in Homewood. “Most competitions such as the Olympic Trials have been historically run in conjunction with a bigger race, which doesn’t allow the average race participants the opportunity to see the fast guys finish. In structuring the events as we have, we hope to bring in runners from all around the country for a whole weekend of marathon activities.”
According to Gene Hallman, Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Foundation, the benefits to be reaped on the city of Birmingham and state of Alabama for hosting the 2004 Men’s Marathon Olympic Trials are huge. “We foresee a large economic impact and tremendous media coverage for the 2003 Championships and for the 2004 Trials. We are thrilled to have beaten out outstanding sports cities like New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.”