Del Mar is making sure no one coasts to finish

Here's one for you: The tiny, picturesque seaside town of Del Mar, Calif., long noted for its racetrack, obviously wants to stick with the horsy image.

The San Diego Marathon, a fixture in that city for 26 years, hoped to change its looped course to alleviate traffic problems and sought permission for a straight shot up and down the coast.


Del Mar turned down the bid, a city councilwoman explaining, "I took an oath to protect the health and safety of this community and I'm not sure we could be able to do that with this race."

Perhaps someone should have explained to her that runners aren't armed and dangerous. The race committee has about five weeks to come up with an alternate route, but few are confident things can be ironed out in time.


* The New York City Marathon, a week from Sunday, has a classic final showdown brewing with word that Joan Benoit Samuelson will be competing as Grete Waitz shoots for her unbelievable 10th Big Apple victory.

These two have been the greatest women distance runners for years and with Joan with two kids and Grete battling constant injuries, there's a good bet this will be their last duel.

The supporting cast is outstanding, too: Veronique Marot, Kim Jones, Wanda Panfil, Nancy Ditz and Margaret Groos.

* All the good long sprinters showed up in Providence for the Downtown 8-K last weekend and John Gregorek took the race in 13:55. Lynn Jennings was top woman in 15:32 . . . Francie Larieu Smith went the same speed (15:32) as she beat Lisa Weidenbach at a biggie in Dallas . . . Doug Kurtis was the only one under 2:20 (by 24 seconds) while capturing the Detroit Marathon. Barbara Remmers (2:44:56) paced the women.

* Jim Hage did 30:48 and Mary Ellen Williams 38:45 to win the Athletic Express 10-K in Gaithersburg . . . The Metric Marathon in Columbia goes Dec. 2 beginning at 8 a.m. . . . MADD has the Red Ribbon 8-K going in Rockville Nov. 18 at 9 a.m. . . . With a couple of months to go, Cathy O'Brien and Dionicio Ceron of Mexico have comfortable leads in the 1990 U.S. road racing rankings.

* Ex-Westminster schoolteacher Steve Kartalia continues an impressive run of races down South, finishing second in the South Carolina Governor's Cup 8-K (23:34) and the Georgia Public TV 8-K in Atlanta (23:25).

* The New York City Marathon Nov. 4 will serve as a fund-raiser for cancer research and is dedicated to Fred Lebow, the longtime moving force of the event who was discovered to be suffering from a brain tumor last winter. Mercedes is donating a third car to the race and it will be raffled off to those runners whose supporters bring in at least $1,000.

* Reminders: Pre-registration for the BRRC Marathon Nov. 24 is $13, going up $5 race day . . . The National RRC age group cross country championships are slated for New York's Van Cortlandt Park Nov. 18.



Saturday: Gator Run 5-K, St. Paul's School for Girls, 9 a.m., 823-6323; Sri Chinmoy 2-miler, Patterson Park, 9 a.m.; A Place for Your Pace, Ashland Rec Area, 8 a.m.

* Sunday: Sinai Fitness 5-miler, Painters Mill Road, 9 a.m.; Baugher's 10/20-K, Westminster, 8 a.m., 857-5154; Deer Creek 10-K, Rocks, 9 a.m., 692-6448; Key School 10-K, Annapolis, 9 a.m.; Alzheimer's Memory Walk 5-miler, Rash Field, 9 a.m.; Wild Goose Chase 10-K, Talbot County YMCA, 9:30 a.m.; Rockville 10-K, Montgomery CC, 9 a.m.