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

1989 Report

By Joe Marks

It was a million dollar fall day in America's heart, but it took a Nichols' worth to win our gut¬wrenching marathon.

A Nichols' worth, indeed. Charles Nicho1s of St. Louis was worth his weight in endurance as he powered through the infamous hills to win going away in 2 hours, 42 minutes flat. He finished nearly four minutes ahead of Raul Flores; 8:20 ahead of Randy Johnson.

When they came up Easley Hill, Nichols had only a few seconds lead. But that hill and those that followed especially the one at Rock Bridge State Park) took their toll. At 23 miles, Nichols had a 2-minute lead over Johnson(Flores was even farther back in third), and the race was over as Nichols cruised into the Mizzou stadium for a big win.

Meanwhile, the women were having their own stalwart battle. Chris Ruble led early, but a mix of dehydration, hills and a bulging disk took her out at 13 miles. Betty Bohon had already moved into first by then and was never challenged. Her winning time was 3:31:34 and, as Billy Crystal would say, "She looked mahvelous."

When the awards were presented there was more than one catch in the throat. There they were: 48 survivors of the 51 who started - winners everyone.

Lou Fritz was choked up when Joe Duncan presented him a special award as Lou finished his 25th straight HOA. (Note: Lou ran 2:57:34 to win the Masters division by a mile).

Tom Malloy of Columbia also won big. His 21 percent improvement in performance earned him the Dave Schulte Award, presented this year by Dave's oldest son, Carl.

Elmer Schlemper won the 50+ division, and Don Johnson (60+) was this year's oldest finisher.

Mike Kaylan ran an amazing 3:09:37 in his first-ever marathon.

Oh, there are other stories - but space won't allow them all. Anyway, most can't really be shared - just felt...from the Heart.

For the record, the "million dollar" fall day registered 41 degrees and 97 percent relative humidity at the 7 a.m. start; 51 degrees and 97% RH at 11 a.m. The sun made the trees look pretty and the runners look salty and definitely contributed to some fading paces.


The following is from the Columbia Daily Tribune: By Mechelle Voepel

The weather was pleasant, the leaves changing. What a nice day to take a tour of the countryside, right?
David Dobkowski of St. Louis thought so, and he brought his friend, Charles Nichols, along with him to run in yesterday's Heart of America marathon in Columbia. It was Dobkowski's fourth trip to this marathon, Nichols' first.
"He really loves to run, and he's always game for something like this," Dobkowski said of Nichols, who is also from St. Louis.
In fact, Nichols was game enough to win, completing the course in two hours and 42 minutes. Raul Flores of Overland Park, KS, was second; Randy Johnson of DeSoto, KS, third; Tom Malloy of Columbia fourth and Dobkowski fifth.
The course is noted for its difficult hills, but Nichols didn't mind.
"I enjoyed the hills," Nichols said."I thought for a minute that I was gonna quit, though. I had to stop a couple of times to loosen up a muscle in my leg."
Columbian Betty Bohon was the first woman finsher, 32nd overall in 3:31 :24.
Bohon also conquered Easley Hill, the most cursed of them all.
"Usually I walk up it," she said. "But I ran up it today. I just ran slow - sort of inchwormed."
It was Bohon's third Heart of America and her fourth marathon overall. She, like everyone else, will tell you that nobody runs the Heart of America to set a personal best. It's just too tough. What it does do is help runners get ready for other, flatter marathons - like the St. Louis Marathon in November.
Both Nichols and Dobkowski plan to run in that, and Bohon may, too. For her it depends on the weather. Last year she ran it in 34-degree conditions with snow falling. Yesterday's race was just the opposite: perfect for running.
"It was just beautiful, especially along the river," Johnson said. "I really did feel at home on this course. It's a lot like where I run at home."
Johnson came from Kansas to race, but he didn't win traveling honors. James Penn Maxwell, who finished 11th, came from San Diego.
The traffic on spots of the course was a problem for some of the runners.
"From Easley on to Pierpont, the trucks and cars would come right at you like they didn't plan on stopping, " Bohon said. "One got so close it hit my hand. I said a few nice words to them, too."
But the scenery and the challenge made up for a few uncooperative drivers.
"The people who put this race on are really great," Dobkowski said. "It's really encouraging to see. These days the mega-marathons are the thing - where you have to have 10,000 runners or forget it. This reminds you of how it was like 15 years ago."

From the "COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE" October 9, 1989