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

1981 Report

Labor Day, 1981, was the one day in a two week period with 100% cloud cover and even some drizzling rain, therefore, with temperatures in the upper 60's, humidity the upper 70's, and moderate winds, the situation was just right not only for PBs, but for a run at some records.

This years race belonged to Jon Herbert. He had made six previous appearances and after the first one he always came back with the notion of winning. A couple of times he raced to early leads, but faded when confronted with heat and a hot sun. Last year he paced himself more sensibly, closed quite fast, but not fast enough to catch Steve Fisher. After Herbert went by the three mile mark with a twelve second lead Rob Leutwiler took over and built a 150 yard margin which he nursed to Easley Hill. On Easley, Herbert pushed hard, closed the gap, then drafted the St. Louisian until about 16 miles. Herbert then took over and began thinking about Dennis Hinkamp's 2:29:15 record. Herbert was 90 seconds ahead of record pace at 15 miles; but, at 24 miles he was five seconds behind and didn't have the kick that Hinkamp had over the final 2-385. Still his 2:30:26 is the second best time ever recorded. Leutwiler ran HOA as an 18¬year-old in 1968 finishing 7th with 2:56:17. He still holds the CTC ten-mile course record of 53:17 set in February, 1972.

Bob O'Connell and Herbert were both under the age 30-39 record of 2:36:47 held by Gene McClain. Last year O'Connell got a good feel for the course with a 2:47:32. In CTC' s 30 kilo race in August he showed he was ready when he knocked off one of Herbert's records. In HOA O'Connell was in fifth place at 15 miles when he went after the leaders. He got them all, save one - Jon Herbert. O'Connell recorded the third best time ever with his 2:32:29.

Wendy Thomas, wife of the 18th place finisher, Steve Thomas, an Evansville, Indiana lawyer, had run only one previous marathon, a 3:12 in New York last October. She showed sub-3:00 potential by lowering Joan Hirt's women's record of 3:09:21 to 3:07:17. Debbie Hoxworth ran with Thomas from about seven miles to almost the 21 mile timing station. However, Thomas pulled away to her record while Hoxworth came on to a marathon PB only 2 minutes away from the record.

Wesley Paul set a record, his 3:02:19 lowering the 3:04:09 set by Peter Ewers in 1977. Wesley was disappointed in not having a sub-3: 00 for the first time in his last several marathons. So, a 12-year-old is apologetic for a mere 3:02:19

A discordant happening was the presence of a slow-moving freight train at the Easley crossing which stopped nine runners from one to four and a half minutes. This was a frustrating wait for this group while the five leaders at that point were still moving forward. Richard Miller still came on strong to place in the top five while the others probably didn't lose any places. In 1976 a train, had come through but that interference only affected a group of runners who were going at a 4:00+ pace.

Dick Hessler had a scintillating performance in his debut as a 40-year-old, posting the second best age-40+ time ever. His 2:44:09 has been bettered only by the 2:36:07 set by Roger Rouiller in 1979. Sy Mah, age 55, Toledo, Ohio, made HOA his 221st marathon. Last year was #183, so Mah did 38 marathons in one year. Not only that, he had a "triple" over the Labor Day weekend. First, a marathon in Port Huron, MI then one in Buchanan, MI, then an all day and most of the night car ride to Columbia for HOA.

For the Schulte Award contest, Miller improved from the 3:35:49 he had in the 1970 heatbath as a 19-year-old School of the Ozarks student, to a 2:40:57, a 25.42% improvement. Wesley Paul was 25.32% better than the 4:04:08 he had as a seven-year-old.