Ward hopes LA Marathon good preparation for Olympic trials
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Taylor Ward wants to use the Los Angeles Marathon as a springboard to the Olympic marathon trials next year.
Ward is the top-ranked American woman in the field for Sunday's race, which starts at Dodger Stadium and ends in Santa Monica. The Utah native prepared in the same conditions that she's likely to encounter in her training cycle for the Olympic trials, which will be held on Feb. 29 in Atlanta.
"I trained through the winter, which is definitely a challenge with a lot of ice and snow," Ward said. "I was able to have a good training block though, and I have been running at altitude, which should be a great benefit."
Ward won the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon and finished in the top 10 in Chicago the past two years. She also said Los Angeles' "stadium to the sea" course is similar to the proposed trials course, which features plenty of hills and changes in elevation.
This is the 10th year for the current LA course. The race goes through downtown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City and Brentwood before ending near the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean.
Besides Ward, the women's field includes Ethiopia's Belaynesh Fikadu, Kenya's Lucy Karimi and Ukraine's Olha Sktypak.
The men's field is headlined by Kenya's Weldon Kirui, who is the defending champion. Kirui, who also won in 2016, is trying to become the marathon's first three-time winner.
"I know the parts of this course that are difficult and where the turns are. It is a good field, but I think I can beat them," Kirui said through an interpreter.
Among the contenders is Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico, who was 11th at the New York City Marathon last November.
Barrios said he started well in his last two marathons but fell off the pace at the end. He's hoping to adjust to the heat during the latter part of the race.
"If I can make the top three or four, it would be a good result for me," Barrios said.