With 15,000 participants registered, the Nike Women's Marathon is sold out for the third straight year. The event is scheduled to take place in San Francisco on October 22, 2006 and in over two year has raised $24 million for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's lifesaving cancer research program. After this year's event, organizers expect the total contribution during the marathon's lifetime to cross the $40 million barrier. Of the 15,000 registered runners, 95% are female.
This distinctive event was inspired by the 20th anniversary of Joan Benoit Samuelson's historic gold medal win in the first all-women's marathon at the 1984 Olympics. Joan ran the Nike Half-Marathon in both 2004 and 2005. This year's marathon boasts a unique inspiration during the last leg – the first ever Little Sister Lane will merge with the race course for a 4-mile stretch near Lake Merced. Kids from nine local youth organizations will run together to motivate and inspire marathoners to cross the finish line. Mt Gleason Middle School in Sunland, CA, one of the participating organizations, will schedule training runs in early October to prepare young runners, age 12-15, for the Little Sister Lane as well as provide transportation for 30 runners and a student cheering section on race day.
In its first year of existence, the inaugural race was sold out in a few weeks before race day, attracted more than 10,000 participants and raised over $10 million for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The 2005 Nike Women's Marathon attracted over 15,000 participants from 17 different countries and 50 different states. The Nike Women's Marathon sells out faster than most marathons of its size and has become one of the biggest philanthropic contributors among races, raising more than $24 million in its first two years.
“The Nike Women's Marathon is truly a unique event that brings women of all ages together to participate in a race designed just for them,” said Brian O'Connor, Nike Brand Manager for Running. “The fact that the race sold out in record time with 95% of the participants being women underscores that women are looking for a race designed for them. Tiffany necklaces, the chocolate mile and a runners' coat-check are just a few of the special elements that contribute to the popularity of this race. We are excited to see the streets of San Francisco filled with women accomplishing not only the 26.2 miles of the marathon, but raising millions of dollars for LLS, which is an incredible feat.”
Both full (26.2 miles) and half (13.1) marathon courses will remain the same for 2006 from 2005, incorporating famous San Francisco landmarks and scenery. The race will start in Union Square and run along the San Francisco Bay with scenic views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, ushering runners down the Great Highway as they cross the finish line. Along the course, runners will be offered support to keep them motivated, including a coat check to stash unwanted clothes, the Chocolate Mile – a mile of chocolate goodies from Ghirardelli – and a pedicure station. All race finishers will receive an official 2006 Finisher Necklace designed by Tiffany & Co.® and a Nike Dri- FIT performance top.
“It is great to see so many women running and celebrating the uniqueness of the Nike Women's Marathon,” said Benoit Samuelson. The strength, determination and commitment these women demonstrate is motivational and inspirational to anyone who wants to accomplish a goal of completing a marathon.”