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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        April 24, 2002


Contact:           Franca Gargiulo
                       Media Director
                        Big Sur International Marathon




Carmel, CA   (April 24, 2002) - A small but very strong elite field is entered in this year’s Big Sur Marathon.  As these elite runners prepare for the 17th Presentation of this world-class event, they will take aim at the 15-year-old course record (five-time winner Brad Hawthorne’s 2:16:39 in 1987).  In addition, two of the runners will be eligible for a bonus available for any repeat winner.  The field includes the top three male finishers from last year’s race and a newcomer that has run 2:10:58 at the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego. 

Heading the list is last year’s winner, Arsenio Ortiz.  Arsenio also won in 1999 with the second fastest time in Big Sur history, 2:19:16.  Last year’s runner-up Sergey Nochevny from Russia is also entered.  Sergey, also the runner-up in 2000, will be attempting to climb one place in the standings this year.  He ran last year’s race five minutes faster than he ran in 2000, so a similar improvement this year could put him in the winner’s circle.

Our other former winner is Hector Lopez.  Hector won the 1996 race and finished third last year.  These three experienced Big Sur veterans are hoping that course knowledge will help them hold off some very fast newcomers.  Heading that list is Kenya’s Jonathan Ndambuki who has run a personal best of 2:10:58.  Jonathan also ran a 2:11:25 while finishing second at the 1998 Los Angeles Marathon.  Also in the field are Urii Usachev of Russia, who trains with Sergey Nochevny and has run a personal best of 2:17 and Krystof Baldyga of Poland with a personal best of 2:16.  This field could produce the most exciting men’s finish ever.

Two Canadians head the women’s field.  JulieAnne White and Ida Mitten, a pair of 40 year olds, will take aim at course record or 2:41:34 set by Svetlana Vasilyeva in 1996.  Both runners are capable of running in the 2:30s if the conditions are good. 

The most beautiful marathon course in the world is also one of the most challenging and should provide a real test for this superb group of elite runners.  The winners will know that they have beaten a world-class field on a world-class course. 


The Big Sur International Marathon, once again voted the Best Marathon in North America by the Ultimate Guide to Marathons, is held the last Sunday in April. Set along one of the most breath-taking courses in the world, this spectacular road race also gets high marks for its degree of difficulty. Over 4,000 athletes begin this race on Highway One in Big Sur and finish in Carmel. Along the way, runners wind their way through majestic redwoods and Pacific Ocean views. Classical music greets marathoners around each turn, providing inspiration that has been likened to a spiritual experience. This year’s race will be held on Sunday, April 28.