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


MATT LAYE conquers heat and humidity to win the 49th annual Heart of America Marathon; DESTINY THOMAS takes the female title

September 1, 2008

In 1970 we started our report by saying, “The big story was the heat and humidity.” So it was in 2008. The 1970 race has never been equaled as the heat bath it was until this year. In ’70 the temperature at the 6:00 am start was 73 degrees with 79% humidity and at 10:00 we had 83 degrees and 65% humidity. There was no cloud cover throughout the morning. This year we had the same 73 at the start, but that was coupled with 95% humidity; it was 81 degrees at 10:00 with 89% humidity, and again, no cloud cover. A good case, therefore, can be made that we had the worst conditions ever for this event. Our attrition DNF rate was 20% this year; I cannot remember it ever being any higher.

In 1970 the winning time was 2:47:10 and there only two others under 3:00 (both 2:59+). This year MATT LAYE had almost the same winning time: 2:47:28, and there were only four others under 3:00. Laye, a graduate student in Exercise Physiology and a Columbia Track Club member, was a part of that group of five until he began pulling away going up Easley Hill, proceeding to a final margin of 7:23 over last year’s winner CHUCK ENGLE, who had run the Pocatello Marathon on Saturday and the Tupelo Marathon on Sunday. Engle says he will be back next year--for a single, no tripling or even doubling. Of those five, Engle was in front at 3 miles, but at 6, GERALD HOLTMEYER, who won HOA in 2002 at age 43, was in front, six seconds over Engle, 16 seconds over Laye, 21 over DAVID POKORNY and 63 over TOM WHALEN, Pokorny’s running buddy from St. Louis. At 9 miles Holtmeyer was still leading, 12 seconds over Laye who was in front of Engle by another 12 seconds, Pokorny was another 13 behind Engle while Whalen was back another 58 seconds. At halfway, at the top of Easley Hill, Laye was in front for good, 24 seconds over Holtmeyer, with Engle, Pokorny and Whalen following. At 18 miles the order was the same with Laye’s lead now being 2:30. At 21 Laye was up by 4:58, but Engle was now second 22 seconds over Holtmeyer who was 2:30 ahead of Pokorny and 2:48 over Whalen. By 24 miles Whalen had moved into 4 th, 38 seconds over Pokorny and only 6 seconds behind Holtmeyer who had a difficult final 2 miles, 385 yards to finish 5 th. Thus, Whalen finished third, with negative splits: 1:29:00 and 1:28:01. (Laye was even better with negative splits: 1:25:40 and 1:21:48, Engle was 1:27:04 and 1:27:48, near perfect splits). This was Whalen’s fifth HOA. He now has two seconds and two thirds; for the second year in a row he takes first, age 40+. This was Laye’s third marathon. He recently ran the Houston Marathon in 2:27:50 and has a 2:37:45 at Twin Cities in 2005.

DESTINY THOMAS, a FamilyServices employee for the State of Missouri who came to running years ago through the CTC Colts, yet never ran in either High School or college, made HOA her third marathon. She had a 3:22:29 in St. Louis last April. Thomas led the female contingent all the way establishing a 4-minute lead by the 3-mile mark. She steadily increased that lead, at 18 miles being over 12 minutes ahead of LAURA GIRARD and 15:40 over NICOLE JARVIS. Over the next 3 miles, however, Jarvis began closing the gap on both Thomas and Girard. From 18-21 Jarvis went 24:47, while Thomas slowed to 26:26 and Girard to 26:38. Over the next three Jarvis gained more than six minutes (Jarvis: 23:00 to 29:24 for Thomas and 26:16 for Girard) on the leader, moving into second place. Over the final 2 miles, 385 yards she picked up another three minutes to finish 4:27 behind Thomas. Jarvis made up her huge deficit by running negative splits: 1:55:12 for the first half and a scintillating 1:47:57 for the second. Girard also had negative splits, narrowly: 1:53:45 and 1:53:00.

The fourth place female finisher was SARAH BREIER. She set an age-40 record with her 3:53:50 squeezing under Maureen O’Hara’s 3:54:53 of 2007. The only other record for the day went to the fifth place female: DEBE JAJKO; her 3:57:31 at age 53 shattered the 5:56:40 set by Beth Stoecklein in 1998. Jajko’s mark is also a 50-59 female record.

With the weather conditions such as they were there were not many PB’s or many improvements over last year. Of the 44 who ran in both 2007 and 2008 only eleven of them were able to show an improvement over their ’07 time. Included in that number were Columbians HUGH EMERSON with a PB 3:47:36, an 11:52 improvement over ‘07, MARY ELLEN BRADSHAW, in her fourth HOA, improving every time, with a 4:13:03, 8:42 better than last year, DAN SITAR, his 3:24:54, a PB by two minutes, and MICHAEL ACOCK got a PB by over ten minutes. TERRY ROBB wastwelve minutes better than ’07, but that was not a PB for him.

DAVE DOBSKOWSKI, a four-time winner of HOA, completed the course for the 22 nd time. This was Dave’s 123 rd marathon. However, check these others: EDSON SANCHES, New York, NY 506 marathons, FRANCESCO CRINITI, Philadelphia, 272, TOM DETORE, Lenexa, KS, 264 and ANGELA IVORY, Nashville, 191.

RICK ROEBER ran his fourth in a row HOA barefoot (he also has run HOA twice with shoes). Check his web-site for a lot of information about his barefoot running and for his comments about HOA.

It was good to see DON JOHNSON at the starting line two days shy of his 80 th birthday running with two hip replacements and having overcome various other physical problems. Don’s intent was to do a half-marathon, stopping at the top of Easley Hill and that is just what he did, going that distance in 3:22+ a time very close to his PB for the full marathon--3:21:46--which he ran in 1978 at age 50. Don ran HOA 16 times, beginning in 1974 at age 45, his last one in ‘91 before his hip problems set in. Don garnered 7 age-50-59 titles and 3 age 60+ titles in his HOA career.

THE VOLUNTEERS, without which we could not have this event: AID STATIONS: The usual kudos to Steve Kissane, Christian Reed and the Hickman HS cross-country runners who so ably took care of the 13 Aid Stations and to Anne Hessler for procuring and managing all the fruit at the finish. REGISTRATION & PACKET PICKUP: Nancy Rezabek & Tom Allen TIMERS: Bill & Holly Stolz, David Lang, Susan Powell, Doug & Maria Duncan, Don Waltman, Richard & Leona Nistendirk, James Harrington. COURSE MONITORS: Bob Humphreys, Dick Hessler, Whitney & Marge Hicks, Jim Maxwell (from San Diego, has run HOA 13 times), the Chavez family, Linda LaFontaine (& her accordion), Bill Sappington, Dan Heaviland, Jim Linville, Dave Tibbetts & Dakota. THE FINISH AREA: Tom Allen, Ben Londeree, Dick Hessler, Jim Crosby, the Kitchen family (thanks to Newell for the popular cold water tank), Amy Champion, Leslie Schneider, Simon Rose, Kathy Lee, Eileen Cummings, Nicole Goble, Kate Floros. MORE: Steve Stonecipher-Fisher, the ice man; Dr. Jill Murphey, Mike Bryant, Norm Stebbins, medical support; Cammy Ronchetto, shuttle service back to Hampton Inn; Gary Gundy for arranging for the State Highway Patrol escort the first 7 miles; Pepsi-Cola company: 2,000 cups, Culligan: 140 gallons of water; Joe Machens for use of a pickup truck, Felini Café, for use of their electricity; Columbia FD for filling the water tank; Julie Sizemore of Hampton Inn, Race Headquarters; if anyone has been left out, that is unintentional.