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2004 Olympic marathon hopefuls investigate Tahoe

Darin Olde, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Some of America’s top 2004 Olympic marathon candidates are investigating Tahoe as a training ground this summer and fall, said Les Wright, organizer of the Lake Tahoe Marathon on Thursday.

The athletes, sponsored by Fila in a program called Discovery USA, are looking for a new place to train from July through October.

“These are the top prospects, the ones Fila is spending their money for,” Wright said. “All they do is run, sleep and eat, over and over again.”

The athletes, who were selected from across the U.S., hope to find a community that supports runners, and that might benefit from having world-class athletes train in its back yard.

“We go around the country and look for what we hope will be America’s best marathoners,” said Greg McMillan, coach and team manager for Discovery USA during a phone interview on Thursday.

“We have a group of young men and women who have basically decided to devote there lives for the Olympic ideal. They’ve quit their jobs … to be the best they can be, to go for the Olympic team,” McMillan said. “We need a community that can get behind that.”

Currently, the team, which includes rourth-ranked American Jill Gaitenby, the top U.S. finisher in the Boston Marathon, and Josh Cox, ranked third in the U.S. and the 2002 Las Vegas Half Marathon Champion, train at Mount Laguna in Southern California.

Their spring camp ended in April. McMillan contacted Wright to “to see what the community, as a whole, would think about us being (in Tahoe)” this fall.

McMillan said his team tends to popularize high-altitude training areas that haven’t been over-developed. When he first brought the camp to Mount Laguna, for example, it was “undiscovered” as a training center.

“Word is getting out. Wherever we seem to go, people seem to follow,” he said.

Wright agrees, and said if the camp comes here, other athletes will follow.

“They’re not looking for handouts,” Wright said of Discovery USA’s sponsorship program, noting that Fila takes care of much of their needs. “They need help finding homes.”

For more information, contact Greg McMillan at dusa@usidr.org. or go to http://www.discoveryusarunning.com.

— Reporter Susan Wood contributed to this story.

— Darin Olde can be reached at dolde@tahoedailytribune.com or (530) 542-8008.


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