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



September 5, 2011

Let's talk about the weather first since it was a matter of discussion as to whether or not Labor Day, 2011, was the coolest day we had ever had for HOA. It was not, but it was close. Of the 44 Labor Day HOAs (there were eight October HOAs in the ‘80's) only seven of those had at least one temperature reading in the 50's. In 1974 the temp at 6:00 am was 55, this year it was 53, at 7:00 and 8:00, both years it was 53 and 54, respectively. However, the '11 temp at 9:00 was 58, while in '74 it remained at 54. The reading was up to 61 this year at 10:00, but in '74 it had dropped to 53. The humidity went from 89% down to 72% by 10 this year, whereas in '74 it went up from 83% to 90. The big difference was the cloud cover: 100% in '74, none in '11. The bright sun this year made a significant difference. That was coupled with a brisk wind out of the north and northeast (7-16MPH) making a strong headwind all the way back from Easley. In '74 wind speeds were only from 7 to 9 MPH. Regardless of any this Labor Day, 2011 was a welcome respite from the prolonged heat of the summer. It was mid-90's just two days before Labor Day.

In comparing 1974 with 2011 we can see how HOA (as with all other marathons) has evolved over the years as a “people's” marathon. In'74 there were 67 finishers with a median time of 3:23:20 and 22 runners (33%) under 3:00. This year the median time was 4:35:18 and only four runners under 3:00, but there were 209 finishers. Other than HOA 1 and HOA 3, the median time went over 4:00:00 for the first time in 1997 and has been well over 4:00 ever since. In '74 there were only two female finishers, this year 43.

JUSTIN GILLETTE came in from Goshen, IN to handily win the 52nd Annual HOA. Justin is a friend of Joe and Amy Company having been classmates with them at Goshen College. Amy told us that Justin was a 2;35 marathoner, but she didn't know how fit he was for HOA. Well, we found out as soon as the 6:00 am starter's gun went off. Gillette was off to an immediate lead and was never threatened, being up by 1:52 at three miles with the gap increasing at each 3-mile split to the final 9:08 margin of victory. Gillette has the 20th fastest time in the history of HOA. His was the fastest time since the 2:35:30 of Ron Chisolm in 1999. Interestingly, only five of those twenty fast times occurred in those cool October days in the 80s.

The battle for second was much the same as the contest for first, although JOSH GROTZINGER, a HS math teacher and distance coach, at California, MO, didn't take command of second until shortly before the six-mile Shelter Insurance mile sign. At that point he was one second ahead of MICHAEL MARTIN from New Freedom, PA. and two seconds in front of SCOTT OGAN, Lawrence, KS. In the meantime THOMAS DEVER, Terre Haute, IN, was cruising along in fifth place some two minutes behind that group of three. Grotzinger was up by over a minute by nine miles and gradually stretched it out to a final gap of 7:11 over third place which went to Dever, age 54. Dever had negative splits of 1:27:50 and 1:25:28 as he overtook Ogan shortly before mile 21 and Martin going up the hill leading to mile 24. Dever not only set an age-54 record; his mark is also the best 50-59 going under the 2:54:40 time set by the legendary Alex Ratelle way back in 1975. First Columbian, finishing 6th, was CTC's TOM MAY in his 5th HOA. His 3:03:45 was only a little over a minute off the 3:02+ he ran twice, one of those being 16 years ago at age 29.

The women's race unfolded much like the men's. KYLA BERENDZEN was in front at the gun and was up by 20 seconds at three miles over JULIE BERGFELD who kept Berendzen in sight for the first 12 miles or so, ranging about a minute behind. By 15 miles Berendzen was ahead by 3:33 and increased her advantage to 5:04 at 7th and Broadway. Berendzen had a third-place finish, at age 19, in the 2009 50th HOA with a time of 3:21:46. That was when she ran the final 2 miles, 385 yards in 15:45, faster than all the women and most of the men. This year she was 15:57 over that stretch, having expended a little more energy over the first 24 miles. Now, at age 21, she set an age-21 record, way under Sarah Grosse's 4:09:17 from 2009. Further, her 3:10:25 is the eighth fastest time for a woman. Her first half split is also eighth fastest while her second half split is the sixth fastest, for women, in the history of HOA. Berendzen has worn the Vibram five-finger (why not five-toed?) shoe for a year or so and says she is now free of foot problems compared to her experience without the shoes.

Julie Bergfeld ran HOA in 1992 at age 25, winning the women's portion at 3:23:39. Now she is back with a 3:15:29 PB setting an age-44 record. That time is the 10th fastest all-time for a female finisher. STACEY SLOVER, finishing fourth this year, had the old mark of 3:28:47, set last year. This year Slover was only 12 seconds slower. Bergfeld also has the all-time best performance by a 40+ female, going under the previous best of 3:18:12 belonging to Andrea Fischer from 2009. Bergfeld ran occasionally with the “noon” group, Hessler, Londeree, Lewis, Hicks, etc., in the early 90's. Dick Hessler says she was an intense runner refusing to let the guys get ahead of her in these ostensible moderate workouts. If he got a foot ahead of her she would ramp it up so that the moderate, became intense. So it was in 2011, but, at age 44, she couldn't quite stay with the 21-year-old kid in front of her.

Slover finished fourth this year running behind ANNIE LAPERLE, who came down from Brossard, Quebec, Canada to run HOA. Laperle followed Slover for 15 miles, then went by to finish third by a 4:15 margin. She had negative splits of 1:43:28 and 1:41:15. The fifth and sixth place finishers also had negative splits. JORDAN LAROSE, of Columbia, was 1:49:47 and 1:47:16, while JESSSICA FORSYTH, from Frisco, TX was 1:54:02 and 1:44:15, almost ten minutes faster over the second half. She was in 76th place at halfway which means she passed half the runners, male & female, in the last half.


PHIL SCHAEFER got the age 58 record, lowering the mark of 3:30:55 set by Don Johnson in 1986. Johnson had many of the age 50s and 60s records. This is the last one to fall. Schaefer has run HOA nine times; his first was in 1994. Now at age 58 he not only sets a record, but he also gets a personal best at 3:15:49, his previous best being the 3:16:49 he achieved when he was a mere 54. Not many runners get an HOA PB in their ninth race. Schaefer had negative splits: 1:39:00 and 1:36:49. He will need a substantial PB next year to get the age-59 record of 3:09:31 set in 1988 by Bob Dolphin of CTC's Yakima, WA branch.

DAVE DOBKOWSKI ran his 25th HOA equaling the line of 25 strung out by Lou Fritz, all consecutively. Dobkowski's first HOA was in 1984 at age 26 when he ran a 2:55:34. He missed ‘86 and '87, then ran 17 in a row, missed '05, now has six straight and, presumably, still going. Fritz first ran HOA in 1965 at age 22, with a 3:00:37 (only one of three over 3:00:00) retiring from HOA in 1989 with a 2:57:34. Dobkowski's times range from 2:45:17 in'97 to 3:42:05, this year. While Fritz averaged 2:50:39 over his 25 HOAs, he never won, finishing second twice. However, Dobkowski won HOA four times: '90, '94, ‘95 and '97 and finished second thrice. Both men won the age 40-49 title four times; Fritz was second three times, while Dobkowski was third three times. The two were in the same HOA four times, with Dobkowski finishing ahead of Fritz three of those times. However, it should be noted the former was in his 20's or 30's then while the latter was in his 40's. Dobkowski, by the way, is the only person to have run both the 25th Annual HOA and the 50th. So, on to the 75th!

STEVE YOUNG, Jefferson City, ran his 17th HOA and his seventh age group title: one age 40-49, three age 50-59 and now three 60+. His partner, DEBE JAJKO, has run four HOAs, placing first each time, 50-59, and has the age 53, 54, and 55 female age records.

MARY ELLEN BRADSHAW, running her seventh HOA, has now finished more HOAs than any other female. These seven have all been consecutive. The first six featured an HOA PB for each of the six. This year Bradshaw was going after seven PBs in a row. She came close with her 4:03:43 second only to her PB 4:01:47 from 2010. So, she, Jerry Kokesh and CTC's Dick Madsen, are the only three people who can claim six straight HOA PBs. For Bradshaw to start another string of PBs will be most difficult, but maybe not if she can break that four-hour barrier. She also got first place, age 35-39.

TOM MOORE was a CTC member back in the late 70's and early 80's. He ran HOA three times, first as an 18-year-old, then last in 1982 with his 3:12:32 PB. Now, 29 years later, he is back as a 53-year-old, living in Greenwood, MO.

CURTIS WORKMAN of Villa Ridge, MO wore bib #51 recognizing HOA as his 51st marathon in a series of 52 he is running in a 12 month period. His organization is “Marathon with a Mission,” a fund-raising and good works group looking after the needs of inner-city children by use of running programs.

It was good to have MATT and WHITNEY DREIER back. It is the first time the two of them have run in the same HOA. Matt ran '04,'05,'06 and Whitney '09. They represented the State of New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, quite well. Matt picked off second, age 35-39, while Whitney got third, 25-29.

KEVIN GUEST, Rea, MO was the winner of the Dave Schulte Award for Improved Performance, bettering his 2010 time of 3:52:58 by 20:49 (8.9%). Guest has run HOA eleven times and has actually bettered his 2011 time of 3:32:09 four times with a PB of 3:11:48 in 1999. With the Schulte Award format we consider the current year performance in comparison with the previous year if that previous year mark was sub-5:00:00. KRIS KOELLER, Hull, IL, came close to winning the award. He had 3:30:03 this year compared to 3:49:05, last year, his first HOA, a difference of 19:02 (8.3%). TOM DETORE, Lenexa, KS, the Schulte Award winner for 2009, has now run 329 marathons, including seven HOAs.

There were 209 finishers, the third most ever. It seems the record number of finishers, 278, in 2009, the 50th annual, was the catalyst to more than 200 finishers in '10 and'11. Before that the most ever was the 178 in 1978. In '78 there were 21 sub-3:00, the median time was 3:44:30, and there were only four females. Again, the marathon has changed.

The volunteers, once again, were magnificent, some 120 of them. We were glad to have two new groups helping with the aid stations. Rock Bridge cross country runners took care of three stations and the MU Running Club handled two. Thanks to them and to all of you; many of you have volunteered multiple times over the years.
1 Scott OganLawrence, KS3:01:42      1 Kyla BerendzenColumbia, MO3:10:25
2 Jack CherewattiAmherst, MA3:12:422 Leah BowringColumbia, MO4:20:19
3 Steven MankofskyColumbia, MO3:36:473 Michelle EbbertsColumbia, MO4:44:17
1 Justin GilletteGoshen, IN2:36:591 Jessica ForsythFrisco, TX3:38:26
2 Josh GrotzingerRocheport, MO2:46:072 Mindy CoolmanColumbia, MO3:45:56
3 Paul ChicoineauSt. Louis, MO3:06:383 Whitney DreierLos Alamos, NM3:48:17
1 Aaron NormanOak Grove, MO3:08:321 Annie LaperleKansas City, MO3:24:43
2 Kevin McCulloughEl Dorado Springs,MO3:22:212 Jordan DeroseColumbia, MO3:37:03
3 Eric TrippWillow Springs, MO3:23:263 M. Barquero-MolinaColumbia, MO3:40:13
1 Dan StaffordBallwin, MO 3:15:331Mary Ellen BradshawColumbia,MO4:03:43
2 Matt DreierLos Alamos, NM 3:18:182 Erica CarperPrairie Village KS4:40:46
3 Casey ProsiseNashville, IL3:26:023 Laura RaederSioux, SD5:00:27
1 Michael MartinNew Freedom, PA2:56:341 Julie BergfeldSt. Louis, MO3:15:29
2 Andy EmersonColumbia, MO3:15:232 Stephanie TeagueFenton, MO4:19:38
3 James SteimelAurora, IL3:17:383 Michelle WalkerNewburgh, IN4:21:27
1 Tom MayColumbia, MO3:03:451 Stacey SloverKansas City, MO3:28:59
2 Bill KotaskaSt. Louis, MO3:16:522 Becky BondColumbia, MO3:56:49
3 Gary MundhenkeKansas City, MO3:24:183 Jennifer BoydRobertsville, MO3:59:23
1 Thomas DeverTerre Haute, IN2:53:181 Nancy MoreheadPleasanton, CA4:06:10
2 Alan KrenzelokJonesboro, AR3:31:062 Karen BackesJefferson City,MO4:29:06
3 David WilkeFlorissant, MO3:33:443 Diana BibeauHermitage, TN4:50:05
1 Philip SchaeferColumbia, MO3:15:491 Debe JajkoJefferson City, MO3:55:02
2 Gary FuerstFenton, MO3:41:182 Holly MruzJacksonville, FL5:16:19
3 Jim GundersonSt. Charles, MO3:48:30
1 Steve YoungJefferson City, MO3:56:42
2 John LeonhartUrbandale, IA4:01:30
3 Eddie LeeSylva, NC4:17:21