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Posted: May 22, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Athletics: Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Announces San Diego Runners for Foot Locker Challenge

Local 'race within a race' participants selected as race day draws near

San Diego, Calif. (May 22, 2009) -- Foot Locker and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon today announced this year's contenders for the 2009 Foot Locker Challenge on Sunday, May 31.

The Foot Locker Challenge, known as the 'race within the race,' is a unique program in which local Rock 'n' Roll marathoners are selected to represent their communities within San Diego County. The group of six will run the first half of the marathon as a team. At the 13-mile mark, the team is free to break away from the pack, and the participant who finishes the marathon in the fastest time captures the title of Foot Locker Challenge Champion.

The winner of the Foot Locker Challenge will receive a prize package including a two-night stay at one of San Diego's finest hotels and an exclusive trophy from Tiffany & Co. All six participants in the Foot Locker Challenge will receive VIP treatment throughout race weekend and will receive exclusive Foot Locker Challenge uniforms courtesy of Sugoi. The Challenge participants will be introduced at the marathon press conference on Friday, May 29, 2009 at the San Diego Convention Center.

All of the runners, who each average an 8:30 min./mile, were strangers until united for the Foot Locker Challenge. In the days leading up to the marathon, the runners will meet to train, lend support and trade running tips.

The Foot Locker Challenge participants are:

Diego Villamizar of La Jolla started running four years ago to lose weight and become a healthy role model for his two children. After completing two 70.3 half-ironmans and participating in two Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathons, he's lost 24 pounds and finds that running is a great workout that helps him de-stress and focus.

Dane Whipple of La Mesa is a fourth grade teacher who is not only instilling the importance of math, social studies and science at school, but also that of a healthy lifestyle and exercise. At last year’s Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon, Dane completed the course with a time just over four hours, less than twenty-four hours after finishing the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend Indiana.

Robert Parker of Oceanside has been a part of the Marine Corps for almost 11 years -- which has unfortunately meant he's had to miss out on some of his personal life due to long hours or deployment. Robert first participated in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego with no training whatsoever, and loved it so much he ran the event in 2008 as well. This year, after adequate training, Robert is confident in his athleticism and is proud to represent the United States Marine Corps in this year's Foot Locker Challenge.

Monika Carlson of Hillcrest used training for her first half marathon (the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix, AZ) as a way to help her quit smoking. She found that smoking was a sacrifice of her fitness and overall well-being that she was no longer willing to make. Her first full marathon was the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, which she completed in 2005. This will be her third time running Rock 'n' Roll in San Diego and she's excited to return to test herself with the other competitors.

Mike Gabriella, who lives west of Rancho Bernardo, was born with a heart condition that prevented him from playing contact sports of any kind during his childhood. Mike's answer to that problem was to begin running in 8th grade -- and he has never looked back. He's now participated in triathlons, half marathons, marathons and numerous road races. This will be Mike's second time running the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

Lauren Waldrop of San Diego was a collegiate athlete and started running when her competitive indoor volleyball career was drawing to a close. She sees running as a way to relax and zone out after a hard day. And, between her full time 9-5 job and position as a part-time volleyball coach, she needs it! This will be her second Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego.

About Foot Locker
Foot Locker is part of Foot Locker, Inc., a specialty retailer that operates approximately 3,600 stores in 21 countries in North America, Europe and Australia. Through its athletic group of specialty retail stores, including Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Footaction and Champs Sports, as well as its direct-to-consumer channel, the company is the leading provider of athletic footwear and apparel.

About the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
Produced by Competitor Group, the original Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will celebrate its 12th year as San Diego's premier running event in 2009. The annual event is still recognized for its record inaugural race that brought 15,771 participants across the finish line. The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon's official charity, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, annually raises over $12 million through its endurance sports training program. Today, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series has spread to nine cities nationwide, creating the first national series of marathons and half-marathons, which annually attract more than 200,000 participants.

A two-day Health & Fitness Expo kicks off race weekend at the San Diego Convention Center on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. The expo is free and open to the public and is where all race participants pick up their race number, browse through fitness related products and attend informational clinics. Known as the 26.2-mile block party, the 12th annual road race begins Sunday morning at 6:25 am with a wheelchair invitational. The marathon features a live band at every mile along the course, hundreds of cheerleaders, themed water stations and a post-race concert, featuring The English Beat in 2009. For more information, please visit

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