Levi Leipheimer repeated his winning performance from last year, leading an American sweep Sunday in the Amgen Tour of California prologue. Leipheimer, a three-time top-10 Tour de France finisher, completed the 1.9-mile primarily uphill circuit to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill in 4 minutes, 49.05 seconds at an average speed of 23.994 mph.
Leipheimer will wear the race leader's jersey in the first stage today, a 97.1-mile road race from Sausalito to Santa Rosa.
What began as a small gathering of endurance athletes at a local San Diego hotel to award athletes and honor the first inductee into the Iron Man Hall of Fame, Dave Scott, has undoubtedly progressed into a celebration that Entertainment Tonight now refers to as "The Academy Awards of Endurance Sports". The 15th Annual Competitor Endurance Sports Awards Gala continued the tradition last week at Sea World, selling out to an audience of 600.
This past November, seven time Tour De France winner and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, made his marathon debut at the ING New York City Marathon covered by NBC Sports. During the very same race, Ultra marathon man, Dean Karnazes completed 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days when he crossed the finish line in New York, later earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records along with the Endurance Sports Award, Male Athlete of the Year.
As these genetic marvels continue to raise the bar, set records and inspire others across the globe, the endurance sports industry continues to build an audience. Do others share this dream that perhaps one day a "red carpet" will be rolled out to showcase our actual athletic inspirations or are we doomed as a subculture embracing blood, sweat, and tears that is merely "tolerated" but never quite understood by the popular crowd?