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



Last year we opened the report by discussing how cool the conditions were in comparison to previous Labor Day HOAs. In 2012, it is fitting for us to go to the other extreme – a hot, humid, brutal day: 69 degrees at the start, 97 percent humidity, up to 78 degrees and 85 percent by 10 a.m., with bright sun and very little wind throughout.

HOA is touted in marathon circles for its challenging course coupled with heat and humidity. The hills are a constant, however the heat and humidity are ever-changing, ranging from the extreme of 2011 to that of 2012, which was one of the most brutal – the worst since 2008. Yes, the heat and humidity are in the forefront of any discussion of HOA. But ’12 was one of only 11 races we consider “brutal” because of heat, humidity and a bright sun. Of the 45 Labor Day HOAs, (eight others were contested on cool October days in the 1980s) only some 25 percent have been “brutal.” Only 19, (40 percent) have had full sun. So, maybe HOA isn’t so bad after all – only the hills.

JUSTIN GILLETTE, back from Goshen, Ind., defended his ’11 title by duplicating that feat, establishing a big lead in the first mile, leading JOE LYONS (St. Louis) in his first HOA by 1:34 at three miles, 18:08 to 19:42. Gillette gradually pulled farther ahead, gaining a 4:23 margin by 12 miles, then Lyons began cutting into that gap a little getting within 3:15 at 24, but could gain no more.

CTC’s TOM MAY, in his sixth HOA, and CHRIS WOLF (Chicago), were both 20:25 at three and AARON NORMAN, (Oak Grove, Mo.) in his second HOA, was 25 seconds behind those two. May and Wolf were together approaching 18 miles, but May moved to 18 seconds ahead of Wolf at the 18-mile mark. Norman caught Wolf shortly after the 24-mile mark. These two battled to the finish with Norman edging across the finish line a mere three seconds in front of Wolf. PAUL CHICOINEAU (St. Louis), also in his second HOA, was ranging behind those five, pretty much by himself. Four of these six ran last year; Gillette was 12 minutes slower, Chicoineau six, while Norman was a couple of minutes faster and May a minute faster. May now has three 3:02s and a 3:03 in his ongoing persistence to get an elusive sub-3:00. None of the six had negative splits, although Norman was close with 1:33:10 and 1:33:17. CHRIS COOK, the 2006 winner, running in his 16th HOA, was in that top-six mix a couple of times, but he eventually settled into a solid seventh place for CTC.

In the women’s race, CTC’s WHITNEY DREIER, like Gillette, was out in front from the start. However, she had a companion, MEGAN STROUT (St. Louis), who stayed with her for the first seven miles before Dreier pulled away going up the tough 8-mile hill. Strout fell some two minutes behind and was passed by 46-year old STACEY SLOVER (Kansas City) at about 12 miles. Strout finally settled into fourth, GRACE CHILES (Columbia), having gone by her near Pierpont, 18 miles. In the meantime Slover was running second a couple of minutes behind Dreier. That two minute gap existed through 19 miles and became 4:10 when Dreier came by Rock Bridge Park somewhat faster than did Slover, up the 20-mile hill. By 24 miles Dreier was up by 6:09, but Slover mounted a charge, cutting that margin in half over the final 2,385 run in a swift 16:10, finishing 3:06 behind first. Chiles, once she got into third, stayed there, unchallenged, to the Seventh & Broadway finish. When Strout fell back she was joined by CHRISTI IMGARTEN and CHRISTINA RAMIREZ, both of Columbia. Those three raced over the final 2, 385 to their respective finishes: fourth, fifth and sixth. Chiles had negative splits in her first HOA, knowing the need to go out conservatively.

This was Dreier’s third HOA. She had a 3:23:07 in the 2009 50th Annual and a leisurely 3:48:16 when she and her husband, Matt, came in from New Mexico for HOA last year. Slover set an age 46 record, lowering the 3:49:14 of Patti Minton in 2003. Dreier was close to the age 28 mark of 3:27:56 belonging to Marie Onan (St. Louis), set in 2004. The age 29 record of 3:07:17 came in 1981 from Wendy Thomas (Evansville, Ind.), so Whitney has one more long hill to climb in 2013.

ran his 26th HOA, a record, one more than the 25 consecutive HOAs run by Lou Fritz out of Verdon, Neb., from 1965 through 1989. Dave’s average time for those 26 is a fine 3:08:40. He was under 3 hours 16 times with a PB 2:45:17 in 1997. He won HOA four times, ’90,’94,’95 and ’97, and took four age 40-49 titles. Will he continue the string? He will only be age 55 in 2013, so, why not?

MARY ELLEN BRADSHAW ran her eighth consecutive HOA. No other woman has run as many as six except Janice Edler Minner from Alton, Ill. Her six were not consecutive.

This was the first HOA for LUIS (5:00:38) and KATHY OCCENA (4:38:45).

STEVE BOURGEOIS won the Dave Schulte Award for Improved Performance. Last year he was in at 4:32:26. He lowered that time to 3:54:29, a 16.2 percent improvement. Bourgeois actually has a PB of 3:08:01 from 1999. However, with our change in the criteria for winning the Schulte Award to consider only the previous year’s performance, Steve became a clear winner. In fact, he previously won the Schulte Award, with the old format, with that PB in ’99 when he had an 11.5 percent improvement. Thus, he becomes the only two-time winner of the Schulte Award. He has now run HOA fifteen times.

There were three age records set in addition to Slover’s – all female and all age 60+: age 64, RAE MOHRMANN (St. Louis) 4:32:27 shattering the 5:35:09 by Peggy Trager (Eden Prairie, Minn.) set in 2010; age 65, MARIAN LOFTIN (Mobile, Al.) 4:49:17, way under Boonville, Mo.’s Donna Haun’s mark of 5:38:03 also set in 2010; and age 68, MARION LANDRY (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) 6:26:25, where none existed before. Landry, a 50-stater, has run 257 marathons. Her husband, DON LANDRY, finished 10 minutes ahead of her, but he did not get a record. He has run 273 marathons.

There were 212 finishers, the third most ever. Of the 249 entrants, 26 failed to pick up packets, which means there were 223 starters, leaving an attrition rate of only 5 percent – excellent, especially considering the conditions. There 146 male, 66 female (31 percent); 28 of the female runners were age 40+, 80 males 40+. The median time was 4:35:13, the highest ever. It was 4:29+ in ’02 and ’08. Many runners have the attitude, “I might as well finish this thing because I am never going to do it again.” But a surprising number do come back, many saying, “this is my favorite marathon.”

In order to keep it everyone’s (at least some “ones”) favorite, we will continue to rely on the magnificent support and work of our volunteers. For 2012, for Packet Pickup there were Nancy Rezebek, Mary Ellen Bradshaw, Joyce Schulte, Randy Gay, Mark Lee, Summer Allen, Karen Hodges, Steve Thompson, Richard & Leona Nistendirk. Timer/Recorders: Tom Allen, Nancy Rezebek, Doug & Maria Duncan, Tony & Nancy Taube, David Lang, Diane Kidwell, Norman Cox, Andrew Grabau, Mark Lee & Mary de la Guerra, Don Waltman & two MU Running Club members. Aid Stations: Hickman HS XCEthan Zars, leader; Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness – Marin Blevins; Beth Lewis & Friends; MU Running Club, Andrew O’Connor; Rock Bridge HS XC, Maggard family, Harrington family, Amy Gundy; Body Combat Chics, Emily Nusbaum; Columbia Independent School, Holly Bondurant. Course Monitors: Linda LaFontaine, Bill Stolz, Barney Sword, Wayne Savage, David Mellitt, Spencer Brocksmith, Joyce Schulte, Randy Gay, Nancy Rezebek. Finish Area: Tim Cornell, Tom & Andrea Allen, Simon Rose, Matt Dreier, Summer Allen, Ben Londeree, Marie Kerl, Joe & Amy Company, Nancy Fritsch, Nancy Burke, Jim Crosby, Kevin Tyler, Bill & Hollis Stolz, Katherine Barrett, Sarah Moore, Pamela Bross, Jill Murphey MD, Mike Bryant EMT. On the course: Tom LaFontaine, Norm Stebbins, Newell Kitchen (ice & water tanks), Scott Foster (lead bicyclist), Steve Kullman (Aid Station Monitor), Cami Roncheto (Shuttle Service). And many, many unknowns.