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Former Cyclist Lance Armstrong to do Local 20-Mile Training Run

AUBURN --

Lance Armstrong, the disgraced cyclist who has now turned to the niche sport of ultra running, will do a 20-mile training run Saturday morning as part of the lead up to the prestigious 100-mile Western States Endurance Run in June.

But the interesting part is that Armstrong was banned earlier in the week from participating in the Western States event. The race's Board of Trustee's met and put into effect a new policy that bans the ex-cyclist and others like him who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs for life.

"Lance came and it was just a coincidence that we had our board meeting right after he had signed up," explained the race director Craig Thornley.  "We would have made this decision whether Lance was here or not."

Armstrong can still run on Saturday because it is just a training run. He'll actually serve as the pacer for ex-Major Leaguer Eric Byrnes. Those running in the race Saturday have mixed opinions about Armstrong being here.

"I do welcome him," said ultra runner Aaron Kopp. "I hope he gets on the bus. I hope he's a normal guy. I hope he's trying to rebuild his integrity and I think it's going to be fun to see him."

Others disagreed.

"It's the last thing you want to do is to let someone in who has a history of that. You've got to keep it as clean as possible," said Rich Hanna who is the official timer for the Western States run.  "Running is the purest form of sport. You want to be on the starting line of any race, whether it's an ultra run or your local 5K, knowing that everybody's there clean and it's all basically down to DNA and how hard you've trained."

Competitors and spectators of the sport say, more than anything, they want a clean race each time out.

"As of right now it's a lifetime ban, so I don't know if it will ever be over-turned, stated ultra runner Martin Sengo. "But if he could work on changing his image and being kind to people, I think there could be a role here for him in ultra running."

Saturday's training run will finish at Placer High School between 11 a.m. and noon.