Olga Appell of Mexico, running with the strongest incentive known to amateur athletes--a chance to make an Olympic team--emphatically won Sunday's 11th annual Long Beach Marathon in a time of 2 hours 30 minutes 43 seconds.
Appell, who trains in Albuquerque, N.M., beat former teammate Maria Trujillo, who ran 2:35:40, and Maureen Custy-Roben, third in 2:41:54.
Alfredo Rosas of San Pedro won the men's race, a tactical one, in a time of 2:18:40, beating Sam Rotich of Kenya, who was timed in 2:19:13, and Doug Kurtis of Northville, Mich., who ran 2:19:26.
Local favorite Jim Knaub won the men's wheelchair race in 1:44:47, and De Anna Sodoma won the women's division in 2:53:03.
Appell, taking advantage of excellent conditions on a cloudy and cold day, led from the start and was never challenged. She had to run faster than 2:32 to qualify for the Mexican Olympic team, and was hoping to break 2:30. Her time was a Mexican record, bettering Trujillo's mark of 2:32:09, set in 1983.
Nothing could stop Appell's steady stride, not even a collision with another runner about 10 miles into the 26.2-mile race. She tangled with recreational runner Jack Marden and Marden fell hard, hitting his chin. He ran the rest of the race bleeding profusely.
The race was easier for Rosas, who followed Rotich and made a break at 18 miles. Rotich's surge gave out a mile later, and Rosas cruised by to take the lead. "At Mile 23 my legs were tight, and I was concerned that Sam (Rotich) might come back," Rosas said.
His crowded schedule may have accounted for his leg problems. Rosas, 32, ran six marathons in six months last year. And he said he intends to run the Los Angeles Marathon March 1.
He has a busy work schedule, too. Rosas puts in a 60-hour week as a maintenance worker for the L.A. Unified School District.
Rosas and Appell each earned $10,000 for their victories.