of America Marathon
60 degrees at the start, 97% humidity, by 10 the temperature was up to 62 and the humidity down to 93%.
Despite the high humidity it was still a great day for running with 100% cloud cover throughout with a moderate breeze of 7 -10 MPH out of the N and NE. A few very light
showers during the first couple of hours only served to give the runners a refreshing boost to their efforts.
Eric Peters, one of the Garry Gribble Sports crew, handily won his HOA debut. Peters,an EPA worker, a former University of Illinois runner, and a 1996 Olympic Trials hopeful was in the lead from the outset, being up on everyone else by over a minute as early as the third mile. He had remarkably even splits for each of the three-mile segments before the final two miles, 385 yards. He was 16:52 from three to six with the 18:56 from 21 to 24 being his slowest. He was 18:52 from 12 to 15 which included the Easley Hill section and the somewhat treacherous portions of the river road and the Katy Trail which had only recently been freed from the ravages of the Great Flood of '93. No runner had any three-mile split faster than any of those of Peters, therefore his lead steadily lengthened and he was never threatened.
Tom Nichols, the 1962 winner, ranged along in second until shortly after the 21-mile mark when he was overtaken by Mike Kelty, the first Columbia finisher. Nichols struggled over the final three miles and ultimately gave up three more places. Kelty had previously run HOA in 1981, turning in a 2:58:41, and in 1991 when he did a leisurely workout in 3:41:48.
Mike English and John Meehan had a nice battle for third. English had run in fourth place through 18 miles while Meehan was dawdling along in eighth. Meehan had moved to sixth by 18 and just before 21 he went by English into fourth. By 24 miles this duo was still over a minute behind Nichols who was fading fast. At 24 Meehan was 17 seconds ahead of English, however, the Kansan turned in a blistering two miles, 385 yards to claim third for good. The Meehan push gave Meehan an improvement of 14:13 over his previous HOA performance the best improvement of the day so that he became the winner ot the Dave Schulte Award. Meehan also had the finest negative split with a 1: 24: 48 second half to go with his 1:29:52 for the first.
While all this was going on, Kathleen Johnson, another Kansan, was
completely dominating the women's race, also with some very even pacing. Her first three miles were her slowest at 24:42 (even slower than the Easley Hill segment) with her other splits ranging from 22:41 to 24:18 (Easley). She, too, had negative splits: 1:43:30 and 1:40:35. She set an age 37 female record lowering the time of 4:12:40 set by Susan Peters back in 1980.
Other records: Gerardette Groll's 4:02:01 was better than the 4:06:40 set by Mary Ann Slivinsky for age 40, while Louis Joline at 3:24:55 was faster than any previous 60 or over (Don Johnson's 3:27:27 of 1988 was the prior mark). Two years ago Joline came in at 3:38:48 as a 59-year-old kid, so he certainly improves with age. But the same can also be said of Kathleen Johnson since we note that she was almost eleven minutes faster than three years ago.