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

1978 Report

Another of those hot, humid Labor Days, which we get about half the time. 67 degrees at the start, 71 at 8:00 and up to 81 at 10:00 with humidity in the 80's, with very little cloud cover. Another adverse factor was the fresh gravel dumped on the gravel part of the course a week prior to the race. The consensus was that the gravel portion was in the worst condition (for running) than it had ever been.

Denton Childs got the second best time ever - second only to the 2:29:15 posted by Dennis Hinkamp last year. Up to the 15-mile mark Denton was either ahead or quite close to record pace. However, with no one pushing him and with the heat and hot sun coming on, Childs was unable to continue at record pace. He took over the lead, from Bill Fox, at about two miles and was never pressed therafter.

Jeff Mlttelhauser, a first-year law student at UMC finished second pulling away from Fox after 18 miles. This was Mittelhauser's third marathon. His second was the Omaha Marathon on August 6 where he had 2:34:34

This was the fifth HOA for Fox; he got a PB by over six minutes, beating the 2:47:20 he had in 1976. Of course, Childs also had a PB. He was second behind Hinkamp last year with 2:37:18 and in 1976 he had 2:52:15. Howard Guscar had a sterling run, going out fairly easily, then pouring it on over the last eight miles, passing a lot of runners, to bring home a fourth place finish and giving CTC three of the top four places; in fact, CTC got six of the top twelve for its best showing ever. Not only that, but CTC runners won each of the divisions. In addition to Childs, Ben Londeree won, Don Johnson won and so did Norma Cousin. Londeree not only won the age 40-49 award, he did it by blasting Rex Frazer's previous record of 2:53:12 set in 1974. Johnson won the age 50 and over title one day after celebrating his 50th birthday. Cousin won the women's award by posting the second best time by a woman, a time bettered only by Joan Hirt's incredible 3:09 of last year. Cousin's time was 3:37:31 while Johnson had 3:21:46,a marathon PB, and Londeree 2:49:55, also a PB, for a man who doesn't like marathons and doesn't really consider them his kind of race.

Lou Fritz was in his 14th consecutive HOA. That, perhaps, isn't so noteworthy, but consider that for seven weeks this summer he was on the shelf because of a collapsed lung and that for the two weeks prior to HOA he didn't run as many miles as he did in HOA. But he kept the string going, still getting a fine 3:01:03, with his usual tactic of moving through the field over the last half of the course. Arne Richards now has 13 - and he was under 3:00 for the first time in 13 years.

The largest field ever - 178 finishers, compared to the 129 of last year. Contrast this to as recently as 1971 when we had only 24 finishers.


From the Campus Digest


There is no prize money. The winners get only a trophy or a plaque. All the survivors get is a piece of paper with their name on it.
There is no roaring crowd. The runners get only an occasional shout of encouragement from a friend or relative. All the motivation is left primarily to the runner alone.
At six in the morning, there is not even much light. The race gets started at a time when most people are sleeping in their bed or waking with their coffee. All the 26 miles of heat, hills and pavement await the runner.
In short, you have to be slightly insane to run a marathon.
However, the Heart of America Marathon is run in Columbia on Labor Day every year. And Monday, while most intelligent people were enjoying the last holiday of the summer, 205 dangerously ambitious folks punished themselves over as much of the 26-mile, 385-yard course as they could move.
"I don't know, it was something crazy to do," said 20-year-old Rex Jennings, a senior in physical education at Missouri who finished in 3:26:27.
"It's not something you do every day."
Although Jennings runs 55-60 miles every week to stay in shape, he had never run a marathon before. "I just wanted to do it one time," he said.
Jennings quickly added that he had no ambition to do it again.
The course layout is enough to keep many from doing it at all.
It all starts at the intersection of Burnam Road and Providence Blvd. The first few miles are a leisurely jaunt down Providence (which also serves as Route K), past the football stadium, over Hinkson Creek and by Rock Bridge Elementary School. If the participant can avoid being run off the road by a sleepy-eyed motorist, the first eight miles are a breeze.
Things quickly change. Eight miles into the race, the runners take a left - onto a gravel road. Gravel roads are little, if any, fun for a marathoner.
Those who survive the 4-mile stretch of gravel in one piece reach Easley, which features Easley Hill. Hill is a slight misnomer . Hillary could have prepared for his Mt. Everest climb on Easley Hill.
Once up the hill, the runner is cheered by the fact he is halfway done. Seven miles and four major hills remain back up to Stadium Road.
Once at Stadium, the marathoner may be only semi¬conscious, but if he can make it to College Ave. and then to Seventh St. and Broadway, he has survived.
Denton Childs, a 28-year-old from Springfield, survived the best. He won the race i 2:33:04, the second-best time in the event's history.
"I know i might sound conceited," said Childs, "but I kind of expected to win."
As the race progressed some even expected Childs to break the record of 2:29:15 set by Missouri student Dennis Hinkamp last year.
It didn't work out that way. "After about 20 (miles), I started feeling that pounding in my head," said Childs. "When you feel the pounding, you know you're tired.
"About that time, I started think ng about just fin shing instead of going for the record."
Childs, who conducted his post-race interview with one hand around a lady friend and the other around a cold beer, was only mildly disappointed about missing the record.
"You think you should really be able to kick in when you've got a chance at the record," he said. "But when your legs go, your legs go."
Childs knew exactly what took his legs away. And he knew exactly what he would have done differently if he had the race to run again.
"I would've taken a tractor or something and cleared out that gravel," he said.
Childs didn't especially enjoy the hills either. "They (the hills) get to you when your're cold, they get to you when you're hot. The hills get you all the time.
Nothing seemed to get to 36-year-old Bill Fox, whose energy and spirit makes Pete Rose look like a lazy cynic by comparison.
"Jeez, I can't believe how good I feel," said Fox only minutes after he finished third behind Childs and Jeff Mittelhauser of Sedalia with a time of 2:41:04.
A runner, ten years his junior, lies comatose on the sidewalk not 10 feet from him as Fox explained how a combination of macaroni-and-cheese and Dr. Scholl's had carried him to his fine finish.
Fox ate nothing but macaroni-and-cheese and other high-carbohydrate foods in the 48 hours before the race. "They (Fox's family) all wanted me to eat a steak, he said. "You get those little strands of meat in you, you can't digest them and you can't run."
The insoles were to keep his feet from tiring over the gravel. "I don't do anything that's going to take energy away from an old man," he said. "It may be an old man's theory, but it's been working."
Everything worked perfectly for Fox. He went out front early in the race and never fell back in the pack. "You know what happens with wine," he said. "It mellows with age. Old men are the same. Besides, old men aren't smart enough to hurt."
With that, Fox went over to congratulate the winner and partake in one of his brews. "Hey Denton," he said, "can I have one of those beers. I've got some coming, but I need to get those carbo's built up."
"Carbo's?" responded Childs. "I just want to kill the pain a little bit."
While Childs and Fox discussed their triumphs, another post-race discussion at the marathon headquarters not far away was greatly different.
A dejected runner, who had been unable to finish, approached an official at the scorer's table. "Do I need to turn in my number?" he asked. "I didn't finish, but if I didn't show up I was afraid you might send a search party out after me."
"We've never had to send out a search party yet," said the official with encouragement. "But come back next year and give it another try."
"No," said the drained athlete. "I think once is enough."
"You'll be back, " assured the official. After one marathon, you're hooked."
God save us. The madness is incurable.

From the "Campus Digest" September 6, 1978