2004 Olympic hopefuls to train in Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe will soon become the springboard for marathoners eyeing the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Discovery USA, an Olympic-hopeful recruitment program, moved to South Lake Tahoe on Saturday, and it’s bringing its entire team of Fila-sponsored runners to train through mid-October.
Among those who will arrive are Jill Gaitenby, top female finisher in the Boston Marathon and fourth-best female marathon runner in the United States, and Jim Jurcevich, who finished second in the 2002 U.S. National Half-Marathon Championships and third in the 25 kilometer championships.
Team manager and coach Greg McMillan said he is very excited about the transition from Mount Laguna in Southern California, and so are the runners.
“I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we were moving the camp to that location,” Gaitenby said. “I hear it’s going to be great.”
With the Tahoe Rim Trail, numerous trails circumnavigating High Sierra lakes, the Powerline trail and a web of paved bikeways, McMillan said the area mirrors one of the group’s previous training grounds in Saint Moritz, Switzerland.
“Nobody’s ever heard a bad word about Tahoe. I don’t know if its a PR thing or what,” he said.
Les Wright, organizing head of the Lake Tahoe Marathon, was instrumental in bringing the elite runners to Tahoe.
He contacted Accommodation Station, the real estate company that helped the team find housing; Tahoe Mountain Milers, a running club; and Lake Tahoe Massage School, organizations that will help provide team support.
“(Discovery USA) is going to bring six men and six women — top American athletes sponsored by Fila …” Wright said. “It’s kind of like having a professional baseball team in your community.”
The group actually will attract even more runners as athletes from around the nation seek out the team to mirror its training regime.
“For sure people will see them,” McMillan said. “They will recognize who they are by the way they look and the way they run.”
The team also said it wants to get involved with the community to help support the sport.
For more information, see http://www.discoveryusarunning.com.