The track season opens next week in Mammoth, and if members of the Mammoth Track Club are on the giddy side, it’s no wonder.
Two new members of the club, which is now sponsored by ASICS, turned in noteworthy performances at the L.A. Marathon on Sunday, March 10, giving the club fuel for its first practice of the season on Tuesday, March 18.
The first practice, which starts at 7 a.m., is open to the public, said Coach Andrew Kastor.
“I am opening our first practice to non-members so people who may be a little intimidated can see what a variety of paces we have represented as a club,” he said.
“Although we also have a professional team of Olympians and national champions who make appearances at Tuesday practices, the point of these practices are to empower locals to better their best in running and life.
“We like to do this one step at a time.”
As if the team needed any extra motivation, both Lauren Kleppin and Gave Proctor provided it last Sunday on a marathon course that stretched from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, in record-high temperatures for the 29-year-old event.
The Mammoth Track Club came up big Sunday at the L.A. Marathon, with both Kleppin and Proctor turning in the best American times.
Kleppin, a Wisconsin native and a recent NCAA Division III star from Western State (Colo.) University, led the field at the halfway point before finishing third in a personal-best 2:28:48.
Proctor, also of the Mammoth Track Club, finished sixth in his first-ever marathon. It was the best time by any American in the race, which was dominated by Ethiopians in both the men’s and women’s races.
Amena Gobena won the women’s race in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 37 seconds. Fellow Ethiopian Gebo Burka, 26, won the men’s race in 2:10:37.
It was an appropriate finish for the Mammoth runners.
Last week, ASICS, the title sponsor of the L.A. Marathon, added the Mammoth Track Club to its stable of teams, giving it training and financial support.
The performances by Kleppin and Proctor in Los Angeles followed a terrific showing by Mammoth runners in the U.S. National Championships in the Half Marathon in Houston, where MTC athletes earned second, third and 10th place all with personal bests at that distance.
Kleppin took second place, while Josphat Boit claimed third place on the men’s side.
Proctor, in only his second half marathon, placed 10th.
Both Kleppin and Boit will be on the U.S. team at the World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen March 29.
But it’s not just about world-class, elite athletes for the Mammoth Track Club, Kastor said.
“This first practice is open to anyone,” he said.
“If you want to become a member, visit www.mammothtrackclub.com;  membership is only $50 for the year and includes an ASICS technical t-shirt, quarterly newsletters and an end-of-the-season party on Mammoth Mountain.”