Six of Minnesota's top marathoners got a nice surprise in the mail recently.
The Minnesota Elite Athlete Development Program wrote $300 checks to the six men who have qualified for next month's Olympic Marathon Trails in New York City: Donovan Fellows, Matt Gabrielson, Pete Gilman, Jason Lehmkuhle, Chris Lundstrom, and Zachary Schendel.
The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are scheduled for Saturday, November 3. The Minnesotans will be among the field of the nation's fastest male marathoners taking to the streets of New York City with the hopes of representing the U.S. in the 2008 Beijing Games.
MEADP, a program funded through contributions from Austin-Jarrow Sports, Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc., Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA), and Twin Cities Marathon , Inc., gave away the money to "acknowledge their accomplishment and to help offset expenses," according to a media release.
MEADP will also make contributions to Minnesotans who qualify for other 2008 Olympic Trials long-distance events ranging from 5K to the marathon, including the 2008 U.S. Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials which will be held next April in Boston.
MEADP was created in 1998 to provide financial assistance to elite Minnesota distance runners who have completed their college running careers. The program provides grants to assist qualified runners in reaching their full athletic potential.
In addition, MEADP is now accepting applications for 2008 grants. MEADP will provide grants in amounts up to $2,000 per recipient to promising male and female Minnesota elite distance runners. Applications and more information can be obtained at http://www.grandmasmarathon.com/ or by calling call Neil Franz at (320) 253-7130.
Last year, Kristen Nicolini, Erin Ward, Pete Gilman, and Ryan Kleimenhagen earned stipdends from the organization.