Today's fourth annual Los Angeles Marathon has its best elite field, in terms of names and times, but whether or not these athletes are prepared to run fast here is another matter.
The race, which begins about 9 a.m., already has its largest field, surpassing last year's 17,040 entries. But some in the invitational field are saying this isn't the time for them to run fast.
Example: Taisuka Kodama of Japan, who has the fastest time of 2 hours 7 minutes 35 seconds, is recovering from a back injury. Orlando Pizzolato is in fine shape but his federation in Italy committed him to the World Cup Marathon at Milan next month and so he can't go all out here.
Everyone in the Soviet contingent says it's too early in the season for its runners to run close to their best times, and even Rosa Mota, the world's best female marathoner, said she's backing off a bit this year and would be happy to run within two or three minutes of her best time.