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



The Heart of America is known for its unique history and the 2016 57th Annual was no exception! HAYDEN LEGG, 25, ex-MU runner, put to rest the notion that, for the second year in a row, since 1962, we would have an HOA without a sub 3:00 finisher. Hayden’s winning time of 2:46:42 in his first HOA gave him a full nineteen minute, twenty second margin of victory over 142 finishers.

CHRIS TURNER, 33, out of Kingwood, TX, in his second HOA, was in for a second-place finish at 3:06:32, and that was 5:56 ahead of CTC’s DAN EDIDIN, 48, in third. Turner was a whopping 28:51 better than his 2015, a 13.43% improvement.

Edidin improved on the 3:19:49, in his first HOA in 2010, by 7:51. Improving with age! He now has the 6th best time of 48-year-old men, out of the top 50. The 4th place finisher, and the Schulte Award winner, was NICHOLAS BENNER, 35, of Columbia. In his first HOA in 2014 he was 3:27:38, but slowed to 4:13:36 last year. This year he checks in with a 3:15:25, a huge 22.94% improvement, to grab the award.

GRACE CHILES, 43, also Columbia, was the first place female, overall, and, of course first 40-49. Last year she was third female overall and first 40-49, with almost the same performance: 3:45:47 in ‘15 and 3:46:58 in ’16. In 2012 she was third female overall, second 40-49. In 2013 she got her PB of 3:29:55, but was only 3rd 40-49, coming in 6th overall female, in an intense competitive race featuring seven women finishing within a span of a little over nine minutes.

Only 3:45 behind Chiles was BROOK BARKER, 36, Columbia, first HOA. Behind her and third overall female, was JENNIFER REISDORF, Columbia, with a PB 3:56:10, at age 44, her first time under 4:00:00, in her fifth HOA. Finishing 4th, came LESLIE HODGES, 32, Columbia, in a 3:57:36 PB to go with her two other sub-4:00:00 HOA finishes.

More fast times and tremendous improvements to follow later in this dialog, but for now – history buffs take note! The Heart of America Marathon is the 4th oldest continuous certified marathon in the U.S. This marathon is loaded with history but we didn’t realize quite how loaded with history it was until none other than Thomas Jefferson, a.k.a PATRICK LEE, Columbia, toed the starting line this year! Lee portrays Jefferson complete with UnderArmour attire which he had modified to make a period costume for marathons. Lee crossed the finish line standing tall and quoting Jefferson!

Speaking of history, and attire, at the finish line we recalled some HOA history and we made note that the winner of that first race, Joe Schroeder, didn’t own running shoes. He ran the 26.2 in his track shoes, taping the spikes for the first few miles. This year we had another runner not wearing running shoes. ELI HOCHSTETLER, Columbia, ran the entire 26.2 in cowboy boots! In fact, Eli ran in complete cowboy attire. Both Jefferson and The Cowboy caught the attention of the crowd. One more note about running shoes – or the lack thereof. This was RICK ROEBER, a.k.a “Barefoot Rick’s” 9th HOA, 7 of which, including this one, were run barefoot!

Back to some place finishers. 5th place was claimed by ANDY EMERSON, now 47, finishing his 13th consecutive HOA, at 3:16:26. Then came STEPHEN GARCIA, 25, Springfield, MO, first HOA, 50 seconds later and BILL KOTASKA, St. Louis, 54, 5th HOA, his 3:18:55, being the 4th best ever of any 54-year-old male, behind PHIL SCHAEFER’s 3:16:49 from nine years ago. Schaefer, this year, finished 10th setting a record for age 63 male, posting a 3:27:19. The old record was 3:50:26 set by Jeff City’s Steve Young in 2010. Schaefer now has three male age records, three more second best and two third best age marks.

Between Kotaska and Schaefer were two more Columbians: MICHAEL MOORE, 8th, first HOA and SANKALP SHIVA, 9th, third HOA. TODD THOMPSON, 51, first HOA, was the 8th Columbian of the top eleven finishers.

Heart of America had to wait 57 years for a representative from Alaska to come, but this was the year! Since the first HOA, back in 1960 there have been runners from 9 countries, 47 states and the District of Columbia represented, but no one from Alaska, North Dakota or Vermont. This year, however, JANE LANFORD from Fairbanks, Alaska completed her 92nd marathon, and her first HOA to be our first marathoner from the great state of Alaska. She sought us out after seeing that we needed a runner from Alaska. Jane finished with a smile and a fine 4:18:53, setting a record for 61-year-old women going far under the mark of 5:54:36, set in 2010 by Summer Allen. This was especially notable as that day in Fairbanks the high temperature was 55 degrees! A recruiting call has been put out to folks in North Dakota and Vermont...

In addition to Andy Emerson, mentioned above, we had two more HOA streaks stand this year. BROOKE SLOSS, St. Louis, continues his longest active consecutive HOA streak with his 17th Heart of America and MARY ELLEN BRADSHAW, Columbia, completed her 12th consecutive streak. Mary Ellen holds the record for the longest consecutive HOAs for women, and her 2016 time of 4:11:47 was faster than eight of the others. Maureen O’Hare, not able to be with us this year, has nine. No one else has any more than six. The longest streak so far is 25 years on a row by Lou Fritz from Verdon, NE from 1965-1998, so there is still some room to go for these other streakers.

We had our British representatives this year and one of them, ROGER BIGGS, of Stevenage UK set a record at HOA completing his 100th stateside marathon – the most stateside marathons ever completed by a British resident still living in the UK. Appropriately, Roger was wearing bib #100. Also of note, this was Roger’s 843rd marathon overall. His 100th, 200th, 300th and 400th marathons were all also run in the states. Roger was the first Brit to join the 50-States crowd (2007). You could say he took the idea and ran with it! He likes to come to the U.S., run marathons, see the sites and meet people. Roger and his friend ARTHUR BROOKS, from St. Albans, UK who completed his 381st marathon today were in Columbia also to visit TOM DETORE, of Columbia who completed his 385 marathon and his 11th HOA today.

Speaking of our overseas friends and the oceanic gap that separates us, you’ll remember we mentioned earlier that there was a 19:20 gap between Legg’s first place and Turner’s second place. That gap is the largest in the history of HOA, except for the 19:25 difference in 1962 featuring the last of the HOA races from Columbia to Fulton. Bill Silverberg won that race in 3:09:36 while Jim Davis was in at 3:29:01 for second place. There were only twelve finishers. In 2004 when there five sub-3:00 finishers, Ron Chisolm was 15:47 ahead of Larry Hennier, the largest gap for sub-3:00 finishers.

At the other extreme, the closest finishes between first and second were in 1985 and 2009, where the gap was a mere nine seconds, both years. In ’85 it was Dusty Morris at 2:53:01 and Dave Dobkowski, nine seconds later. The same nine seconds came between Ryan Hauser, 2:53:05, and Dann Fisher in ‘09. Fisher came back in 2010 and got involved in another close finish, but this time he was in first, 33 seconds ahead of Kevin Lambert.

For the women, the largest gap was last year when Natatlie Runkle, at 3:19:48, was a whopping 19:19 in front of Charisse Winter. Contrast that with the 2013 race when seven women finished with a gap of only 9:14 between first and seventh, 3:21:22 to 3:30:36. The closest finish for the women was in 1984 when Debbie Hoxworth (3:25:45) came in 23 seconds ahead of Chris Ruble.

KACIE PERRY, a labor and delivery nurse originally from Columbia, but now living in Florida, was greeted at the finish line by her proud parents, both retired marines. Kacie was the last person in her immediate family to run a marathon. The joke was that if she wanted to keep her place at the dinner table she needed to get this in the books, and she did just that. Her father said, “She might be the last one in the family to get her marathon run, but she’s the fastest!” Kacie took home first place for females 25-29.

BLAKE ST. CLAIR and CAROLYN GREEN were here from Little Rock, AR where Blake is attending Med School. Both MU grads, they wanted to run their first marathon in familiar territory. It’s hard for Blake to get away so this Labor Day race was just what they needed. Now they have the distinction of having HOA as their first marathon.

WINDY SHULL, preparing for her 13th marathon, but her first HOA, is planning on an ultra in October and was using this as a training run. Windy voiced one concern the night before the marathon, however. She had gone out in her van to drive the course. The van overheated and didn’t make it! She hoped it wasn’t an omen, and it wasn’t. Windy took first place, females ages 45-49.

The weather for the 2016 HOA could be, possibly, the 7th worst of the 49 non-October HOAs. Here’s a top 10 list which is somewhat subjective but fairly accurate. Notice that seven of the top ten come from the last 16 HOAs--as a result of Boone County warming? The first one was the worst, no question about that, made worse by the course being mostly on sun-baked Rt. WW, Columbia to Fulton. After the next two Columbia to Fulton jaunts Bill Clark decided to move the show to Boone County. With a sense of compassion, he routed the course to the shady, cool environs of the bottoms of the Missouri River. However, the devil in him made him include Mt. Easely as part of the course coming away from the river.

Top Ten Worst Weather Conditions for HOA Labor Days
Year Temp range Humidity range
6:00 am to 11:00 am 6:00 am to 11:00 am
l. 1960 69-93 83-38
2. 2008 73-83 95-81
3. 1964 72-86 85-54
4. 1970 73-85 79-65
5. 2002 69-84 91-65
6. 2007 63-88 72-32
7. 2016 65-83 93-67
8. 2001 67-83 90-65
9. 2012 69-81 97-69
10. 2010 67-81 84-65 20% cloud cover 8-11

The best HOA, considering the weather, was 1974, with 55 degrees at the start, getting down to 53 by 11:00, 100% cloud cover, with no precipitation except for a trace after 9:30. A year for PBs including Joe Duncan’s HOA PB of 3:26:58 as age 40. Furthermore, this was the first year that any CTC member got under 3:00, AND, five members did that: Dick Hessler 2:47:34, Rex Frazer, 42, 2:53:12, Don Granberg 2:55:19, Ben Londeree, 40, 2:56:50 and Dean Neal 2:58:07. There were 22 runners under 3:00 out of a field of 67, 33%. 1976 was notable for a cool day. 61 degrees at 6:00, humidity 67%, 66 at 9:00 humidity 54%, some cloud cover. 29, the most ever, out of 121, almost 25%, under 3:00.

I had the opportunity to ask many of the runners why they chose to do the Heart of America Marathon. Most of the runners mentioned loving the small, friendly race atmosphere. They spoke of the fantastic volunteers and the hometown feel. Several people said they love hills, and embrace the challenge. Some people came to get Missouri on their 50 state list and they said the timing of Labor Day was perfect. Others use this as a training run. TYLER PATERSON, Wichita, KS completed his 11th marathon and his 3rd HOA today. Tyler said, “It’s the best race in the country”. Tyler, we couldn’t agree more!