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

1994 Report

By Joe Marks

At the awards ceremony after the Heart of America Marathon, the survivors laughed when I said, "We pride ourselves in pro- viding a miserabale course and weather to boot."

They hadn't been laughing earlier. It had been an unforgiving day. At the 6 a.m. start, the temperature was 68. But worse, the humidity was 100 percent.

The timing crew at just three miles had trouble seeing numbers but no difficulty seeing the sweat. There was no letup. Cloud cover spared runners from the sun for almost three hours. It also held the soggy air close to lung level.

The overall winner, David Dobkowski, told a Columbia Missourian reporter that the high humidity was to his liking. "It hurts everyone," he said, "but it hurts me less than the typical person."

Maybe that's because Dobkowski isn't typical. He had placed second in HOA in 1985 and again last year, and he won in 1990. Still, he keeps coming back.

It was no runaway, though. Dobkowski won in 2: 53: 06, but John Meehan finished 24 seconds behind (a photo finish if you convert that to 100 meter dash standards) .

A surprising third was Columbian Rich Olson, a marathon rookie.

Among the women, Gerardette Groll won big, winning both the open and masters divisions by a big margin in a time of 3:51:59. Kimberly Oexner was second in 4:21:26, and Janet Farr was third in 4:26:33.

Another big winner was Mark Wood of Columbia, who won the Dave Schulte Award for most improved performance by beating his previous best by a whopping 17 percent. Wood moved from 22nd place at halfway to finish 15th in 3:22:36.

There are many more stories to tell. More than one significant other has heard them in graphic detail.

There is one story I never get tired of hearing, though. It's all the raves for the volunteers. Many hung on to help and then clean up after the finisher crossed the line six hours and six seconds after the start. The runners and I thank you all.