Heart of America Marathon
Labor Day heart2.gif (4940 bytes) Columbia, Missouri

1977 Report

Low 70's, 90% humidity, very heavy fog for first hour, cloudy. Dennis Hinkamp, a member of CTC, became the first Columbian (also first Missourian) to win the Heart of America Marathon since 1960 when Joe Schroeder won the inaugral event. Hinkamp is originally from st. Louis, but is a student at UMC, running regularly with the UMC distance runners. He is being "red-shirted" this year, so he was free to participate in this race. Participate he did, shaking the Heart of America course like no one before him. He shattered the course record by almost five minutes and did it on a day when the conditions were considerably worse than on the two days when the old mark was set and tied. In 1966 Barry Crawford had temperatures in the upper 50's and low 60's with lesser humidity while last year Tony Rodiez had temperature and humidity in the mid-60's. Rodiez was back again this year, determined to get the record all to himself. However, Hinkamp was with him from the outset, the two of them chasing Kirk Duncan for the first half of the race.

At about 15 miles Rodiez began to let go and was later passed by both Duncan and Denton Childs. Most likely Easley Hill had taken it's toll, plus the fact that the pace was a little hotter than a year ago. Last year Rodiez was 1:11:00 at 12 miles (about three minutes slower than this year) and 1:18:45 at halfway - 3:45 slower than this year. In fact, no one has ever reached halfway faster than Hinkamp and Rodiez did this year. Further, it should be noted that Hinkamp and Rodiez covered the distance from 12 miles to halfway in 6:45 while last year Rodiez did this same portion in a leisurely 7:45. This stretch, of course, includes Easley Hill, so it is apparent that they were pushing up the hill and it is here that the race was decided.

Childs had a remarkable performance laying back in fourth place until about 22 miles. During the middle portions of the race he was as much as four minutes behind the three leaders. Childs' second place finish gave CTC a 1-2 finish. Hinkamp and Childs had given a hint of what could happen when they finished 1-2 in the August 6th 30 kilo run with a couple of good times. In that 30 kilo run, Joan Hirt also gave a hint of what she could do in HOA, and she did it. Hirt obliterated the previous women's record of 4:34:28 with her astonishing 3:09:21, a time which, on this course, puts her in the national class of women marathoners. Also clobbering the old mark for women were Marian Kulick and CTC's Norma Cousin and Rhonda Thomas, all of them being under four hours. Hirt was 3:13 faster over the last half of the course; Hinkamp was 45 seconds faster. Lou Fritz covered the final two miles, 385 yards faster than anybody: 12:10. Childs also finished strongly with 12:18. Joel Rabdau won the age-40 trophy for the third year in a row.

The Dave Schulte Award went to 13-year-old Peter Ewers from Kirksville. Peter first came here as an 11-year-old in 1975 doing 4:26:09, improving that to 3:48:05 and now 3:04:09, a 19.3% improvement. He also has the best time ever for age 15 and under, beating Mark Young's 3:11:52 set in that 1975 race.

An indication that weather conditions were worse this year than last is shown by noting that only half of the runners who were here in '76 improved over last year. Further, only 22 runners were under 3:00 compared to 29 a year ago, even though we had eight more finishers this year. However, Dennis Hinkamp was not dismayed by the conditions, nor the hills, nor by the competition, as he made ths course buckle, if not quite bringing it to its knees.


From the Columbia Daily Tribune


For Dennis Hinkamp, becoming a marathon runner was a matter of necessity.

For Denton Childs, the loneliness of a long distance runner was his pleasure.

For 13-year-old Peter Ewers, doing a man's job at such a young age was second nature.

For Joan Hirt, it was setting a goal and attaining it.

For defending champion Tony Rodiez, it was simply Easley Hill.

For Wesley Paul, man's biggest nemesis, the automobile, was his demise.

And for race director and starter Joe Duncan, it was quite embarrassing.

All this, and more, came to pass in the 18th running of the Heart of America Marathon, which began in yesterday morning's fog at the shout of Duncan's "Ah, go," and ended in record-setting form and a bit of redemption for the city of Columbia.

Once Duncan finally started the race - his unloaded gun went click, click - Himkamp did the record setting and the redeeming. The University of Missouri student who became a marathon runner in search of success, erased the 11-year-old Marathon record and became the first runner from Columbia since the race's conception in 1960 to win.

His time of 2:29:15 bettered the record Barry Crawford set in 1966 (2:34:07) and the one Rodiez tied while winning last year's Marathon. Hinkamp' s victory gave the host city its first winner since Joe Schroeder won the initial Heart of America Marathon in 1960.

Coupled with Hinkamp's victory, Childs' second-place finish and Mark Landrum's 14th-place finish, the Columbia Track Club won the Marathon's team title in the first year the award has been presented.

"There is always somebody from outside Columbia coming in and winning this race," said the 21-year-old Hinkamp after pulling away from Rodiez over the last half of the course for his first-place finish. "I wanted to win this race so a person from Columbia could win."

The race - by the three-mile marker - turned into a two¬part contest once the 142 starters untangled in the morning darkness while moving south down Providence Road. Part one included early leader Kirk Duncan and the twosome of Hinkamp and Rodiez. Part two consisted of most everyone else. Duncan, who finished third in a time of 2:38:45, was the leader at the three-mile mark at 15:14 with Hinkamp and Rodiez closing fast. Duncan held his lead through six miles when the course turns off Route K and heads to Easley on the gravel road.

It was there, about one-half mile from the check station, where Wesley Paul's attempt to set the American marathon record for 8-year olds ended.

On the narrow downhill road, with runners descending and cars of onlookers moving both ways, a vehicle moving south with the runners stopped and the car behind came to a screeching halt while swerving to the left. Paul, who was running on the left side of the road was struck from behind.

An ambulance took Paul to the hospital, but he was released after receiving several stitches to close lacerations on his head. And he was back in time for the Marathon awards ceremony.

Ailo Paul said X-rays were taken at the hospital but revealed no fractures or breaks.

Hinkamp and Rodiez overcame Duncan's lead on the road to Easley and were still running side-by side approaching Easley Hill.

"You like to find someone you can run with that runs a lot like you," Hinkamp said. "I knew he was the class of the field, and when I caught him after three miles we stayed together until 16."

The twosome climbed the half-mile incline of Easley and passed the 15-mile checkpoint in 1:27:00 with Duncan about one minute behind. But before the 18-mile marker, Hinkamp pulled to a half-mile lead over Rodiez who was visibly struggling.

"I felt kind of bad about leaving him," Hinkamp would say later, "but I really didn't know if he was letting me go and saving it for later or what. And if I pulled away, I wanted to pull away for good." And Hinkamp did pull away. The Missouri trackman, who will be red-shirted this season, passed the 18-mile point in 1:42:06, while Rodiez had fallen more than a minute behind.

"The hill (Easley) took it away from me," said Rodiez, a student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "I felt strong until then. My legs tightened up a little past the halfway point."

With Rodiez struggling and Hinkamp on his own, Duncan and Childs, who came from nowhere, began to pick up ground. At the 21-mile mark on Route K, heading toward Columbia, Hinkamp opened up a four-minute lead on Rodiez with Duncan challenging for second.

And before the 24-mile point was reached at the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Providence, Duncan and Childs were overtaking Rodiez.

"About 23 miles I was really struggling from my waist down," Rodiez said. "I used my arms I a lot to keep my legs going. I even walked a couple of times - I knew I had fourth because I couldn't see anyone behind me."

When Hinkamp took the turn amidst heavy traffic in front of Faurot Field at 2:16:07, he realized the win was his and the record was attainable.

"Some friends of mine told me at one point I was 50 seconds ahead of Rodiez and I knew he was faltering," said Hinkamp who was running his first Heart of America Marathon.

It was nearing 9 a.m., and while red blinking traffic lights pierced the deserted street of Broadway, Hinkamp came bounding down the middle to the cheers of a waiting crowd.

And while Hinkamp was struggling for the breath and stamina to walk, another runner appeared on Broadway. It was Childs, the man who ran the entire race by himself.

"I caught up with the other guys (Rodiez and Duncan) after 22 or 23 miles, "said the 27-year-old Childs. "I ran the whole race by myself. I always do. I like to concentrate to think about what I'm doing." After Childs' finish of 2:37:18 in came Duncan and Rodiez with Larry Aduddell, Lion Caldwell and Lou Fritz finishing four minutes later.

Then came the first 40 -year-old and over finisher, Joel Rabdau from St. Louis, in 2:59:31.

Next the youngest finisher of them all, Ewers of Kirksville in 3:04:09, good for 27th place and the Dave Schulte Memorial Award for improved performance. Last year, Ewers ran a 3:48:05. He improved on that by 19.3 per cent.

"I was trying for a seven-minute pace," said Ewers, who carried his own stop watch with him during the race. "I was two minutes off. And I was disappointed I ran the last half slower than the first."

Ewers then bounded outside to await and cheer the finish of his father, John, whose time of 3:52:32 put him third in line for the trophy his son won.

"I started running when I was 8 with this guy who was a friend of a guy boarding with us," the younger Ewers said. "Then when he left, dad started running with me."

Then came the first woman to finish the race, Columbia's Joan Hirt, breaking the women's course record with a 3:09:21, 1:25:07 faster than Marsha Weiss' record of 4:34:28.

"I wanted to be the first woman to cross the finish," said Joan Hirt, whose husband, Augie, walked the race in 3:45:21 and ahead of 54 runners. "That is what I wanted to do."

Then came the first 50-year-old and over finisher, Clyde Johnson of Springfield, in 3:36:10 good for the 60th spot.

Then came 69 more finishers, the last one after 5:47:31, to make 129 finishers.

Then came the awards ceremony and the first glimpse of Hinkamp for most of the runners. "I felt fantastic," Hinkamp said. "I've been looking forward to this all summer. I became a long-distance runner because I can't compete with the two and three-milers.

"Becoming a marathon runner was a matter of necessity for me. You do what you can do best. I couldn't run three miles with the guys at Missouri, so I tried longer distances and I had success."

And as for his success in the Heart of America Marathon, once was enough for Dennis Hinkamp. "I'm not going to run this course again unless someone breaks my record. At the end, it was a great feeling. It was over."


The lady is a wife, tripling as a mother and secretary. She wears the pigtails of a gum-smacking 16-year-old and readily flashes that wide, expressive smile of youth.

The lady is also a marathon runner, possibly the best to enter Columbia's Heart of America Marathon.

The lady is Joan Hirt - the first woman to cross the finish line in yesterday's 18th annual Heart of America Marathon race. The first woman to cross the finish line in 3:09:21, a marathon record by more than an hour.

It was feat she openly talked about months previous to the race. She wanted to be the first woman to cross the finish line on this Labor Day race.

"There was a lot of pressure on me," she says. "I told too many people what I wanted to do - that was a mistake."

What Joan Hirt wanted to do, other than being the first woman to finish the race, other than breaking Marsha Weiss' record of 4:34:28, was to run one of the toughest marathon courses in the country in 3:15:00.

So when this 24-year-old lady came to a finish in 3:09:21, the joy of being the first woman to finish, and of breaking the existing record and of bettering her personal goal, came out in heart-shaking sobs of accomplishment.

A middle-aged woman at the finish line, wearing the clothes of a runner, but only a spectator, jumped to her feet as Joan Hirt came striding to her finish with Dean Neal right behind and proclaimed with all the pride of being a woman, "It's a girl. It's a girl."

For Joan Hirt it was a lot of hard work over an eight ¬month stretch. Her schedule consisted of awakening every morning at 5:30 and running before heading off to work at 9:30 at the National Association of Animal Breeders, where she is a bookkeeper/secretary. Off at 3:30 in the afternoon, she ran for another hour before having to pick up her 2-¬year-old daughter at nursery school and get dinner ready for her husband, Augie. On weekends, she took off on a 22-miler over a self-designed hilly course.

"I've been running off and on for a while," Joan said. "But every time I quit running, I got fat. So I started running. I saw myself getting into shape and felt good."

Joan Hirt found out what kind of shape she was in during the U.S. Track and Field Federation Championships in Wichita, Kan. On a relatively flat course, she ran 3:35:00. She then started preparing for Heart of America.

Her strategy going into the race was to start out at a slow pace and stay with it, not to go fast. "If you go too fast at first, the hill will get you," she says. She says she held herself back - slowed down.

And found someone to run with. Neal, who finished one second behind Joan Hirt, was with her the entire way. "It's tough to be alone out there," Hirt said. "I wanted someone to keep about the same pace with me and that ran the same style. It worked out great."

The tandem of Hirt and Neal pushed past the halfway point which is at the top of Easley Hill in 1:36:17. She covered the last half of the course nearly four minutes faster.

"So much of racing is mental," Hirt said. "People prepare themselves physically, but mentally they are out of shape.

"You just keep telling yourself you're all right, you're all right. You tell yourself it will be over in one hour. It will be over in 45 minutes. I trained too much for this to quit. You tell yourself you didn't run all those 22 ¬milers to quit now. You must have self-control."

As well as self-confidence. "I knew I could do it, and I did it," Hirt said after running the Heart of America course for the first time. "I know that sounds conceited, but I worked hard so I can say that. I did what I wanted to do. I peaked today. I wanted to be the first woman to finish. And I'm not a good loser."

With the Heart of America course conquered, Hirt is looking forward to running a Nebraska marathon in October. As to returning to the Columbia course again, she says, well. . .probably. . .yeah, I guess. I told my husband (who walked the race and finished 75th) I'd never do it again. But I think I will."

She excused herself for a minute to chase down her adventuresome little girl - to be a mother. As she returned, the cheers of the crowd brought everyone's attention to her husband crossing the finish line.

"There's my husband. I'd better go."

Now, to be a wife.

From the "Columbia Daily Tribune"- September 6, 1977