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

Heart of America Marathon Runners Celebrate 60 Year Legacy

By Kathy Lee, with statistics provided by Joe Duncan

At the Heart of America Marathon, runners honor the legacies, hard work and traditions of those who were first, those who built the foundation on which we proudly stand. At HOA we love our history, our running community, and the connections that brings, and for the 60th Annual that was on display in big numbers!

Many things combined to make HOA’s 60th a special event. An increased emphasis on community was easily seen with the involvement of the Boone County Commission, Columbia City Council, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau and many local sponsors all combining to help make this a successful event for runners both local and from around the country.

With the ever present eye on HOA’s proud heritage, HOA found a new home – right by the Easley General Store! The store used to sit at the bottom of Easley Hill, back in the day, as they say. Now, the store is a part of the “Village at Boone Junction” a village of historic buildings, each native to Boone County. The Village is part of the Boone County History and Culture Center. The History Center opened its doors wide this year to partner with HOA as our new start and finish location. This is a welcome venue near not only because of the history, but it is also near a pond, trails, a pavilion and the playground at Nifong Park – a perfect location to relax with friends and family after a tough race.

A new start and finish location meant a recertification of the course. This is not the first time HOA has had changes to the start/finish. However, ever since the finish was moved from Fulton to Columbia, the route through the county and up Easley Hill has remained the same and so it was this year. The flooding of Cooper’s Landing and the Katy Trail of a few months ago had gone down and everything was in good shape. Cooper’s Landing provided runners with snacks and drinks this year and the new route took runners past some very enthusiastic homeowners who were out in full force to cheer and give a drink to runners.

A pre-race banquet kicked things off Sunday evening at the First Presbyterian Church, one of our sponsors. After dinner, Jay Schroeder, son of Joe Schroeder, the first HOA winner, said a few words about the history of the race, his father and the legacy he left. This special moment was followed by a guest panel of HOA notables comprised of Tim Hendricks, Larry Young, Betty Bohon, Dick Hessler, Lou Fritz, Andy Emerson and Mary Ellen Bradshaw. It was fun to see Lou, Andy and Mary Ellen side by side. Lou holds the record for longest consecutive HOAs run at 25. Andy is closing the gap now with 16 consecutive under his belt, and Mary Ellen already holds the female title with 15 consecutive after the 2019 race. A fun raffle with items donated by our sponsors followed. Then, all were dismissed to get a good night’s sleep.

Labor Day morning greeted runners with a fog advisory, but with cooler temperatures than in the past. Nine of the 12 worst weather days in the history of HOA have been in the 21st century.  However, for the 60th Annual it was 61 degrees at the start going down to 60 by 7:00, then gradually working up to 64, then to 79 by noon, the coolest Labor Day morning since 2011 when it went from 53 to 67. This year humidity was 93% at the start, staying in the 90s, then dropping to 82 by 10 and to 67 at noon. As runners arrived at the start, things didn’t seem too bad, but the fog did indeed roll in, as forecast, making for a pretty foggy start and poor visibility conditions particularly for the first miles of the course.

The men’s race had two divisions: One led by the four under 2:45 and two, the other 124 men, paced by Andrew Webb from Joplin at 3:01:37, 17:01 behind the four. The women also had two divisions: One occupied by only one woman, Oksana Loginova, Columbia, in her 3rd HOA, winning in 3:40:31 (a PB) with the other 37 women, led by Columbia’s Jennifer Reisdorf, 8 th HOA, some eighteen minutes behind her. All the first six women were over age 45 except for one 43-year-old, and including one 61 year-old: Vicki Bengley-Condit, Grinnel, IA, setting an age record. Mary Ellen Bradshaw was in the mix, finishing 4th , running her 15th consecutive HOA, in 4:02:23, a scant 36 seconds from her4:01:47 PB set nine years ago. At age 47 she is on a path to get under that elusive 4:00:00.

Three of the last four years no one was under 3:00:00, now out of the blue, we suddenly have two, not only under 3:00, but one under 2:30 for only the second time. Humphreys was a mere 23 seconds off Dennis Hinkamp’s record 2:29:15 set 42 years ago ( 1977) at age 21. Nathan Keown now has the second fastest second-place time in HOA history. CTC’s Bob O’Connell, in 1981, at 2:32:29, was second (with HOA’s fastest non-winning time) to Jon Herbert’s 2:30:26. Herbert now has the third best all-time winning performance. Ron Chisolm, St. Louis, at 2:30:43 slipped into the mix in 1996, now fourth on the list, all-time.

There were some age records this year:
Age 24M Nathan Keown 2:33:05 Old record: 2:35:06 Robert Steven Cline 1979
Age 27M Griffin Humphreys 2:29:38 " 2:37:18 Dentoin Childs 1977
Age 59F Keri Marshall 4:14:34 " 5:16:47 Donna Murphy 1999
Age 61F Vicki Bentley-Condit 4:0:45 " 4:18:53 Jane Lanford 2016

Speaking of age winners, the age group awards were handcrafted this year by HOA veterans Nick Thurwanger and Dan Heaviland – one more way HOA shows its heart within the running community.

At the awards ceremony, overall, masters and age group awards were presented. The Schulte Award, this year was awarded to Daniel Aronhalt, who ran an impressive 3:31:39 smashing his 4:39:21time from last year for most improved performance. New this year, was the presentation the Schroeder Award in honor of Joe Schroeder, the winner of the first HOA in 1960. Joe passed away this past April and two of his sons, Jay and Kevin and Joe’s grandson Nick ran the marathon in honor of their parents. Siblings Jeff and Robin were also on hand to cheer on all the runners. The Schroeder Family was well represented to honor their father, his HOA legacy and to present the first ever Schroeder Award given to the male/female who, from the field of first time marathoners (HOA being their first marathon) crossed the finish line first. This year’s winners were Nathan Keown M – 2:33:04 and Loreto Urra F – 4:14:11

Is the new course easier than all the old courses? Yes! Intuitively, that must be so considering we eliminated three of the major hills, viz., the two-mile hill on Providence, the 20-mile hill on 163 at Rock Bridge Park, and the 24-mile hill on Providence going up to Stadium. The first one, early on, when it is cool, is not too bad. However, the latter two can be brutal with a hot sun firing down over the late stages of the course. But, don’t fret, it is still a tough course, for Mighty Mt. Easley remains, standing tall for fifty-seven years, with beckoning arms and a voracious maw waiting to devour any who dare tread on its domain.

Overall, there were 166 finishers with a median time of 4:45:16. Male finishers numbered 128 with a median time of 4:28:26; and 38 Female finishers with a time of 5:06:53.

Inaugural Heart of America Marathon Fun Team Relay a Success

We’ve talked a lot about history, and that’s good, but keeping things fresh and new is also good! The Heart of America Marathon was proud to introduce the Inaugural Heart of America Marathon Fun Team Relay this year! We entered this new era with an equal measure of care and excitement. It was clear from the beginning that there was a lot of interest in the relay option. We even had to cap registrations to make sure we could effectively handle the complexities of a relay and still maintain the integrity of the marathon. The race director likened it to the old math problem of having to get a chicken, fox and a bag of feed across the river in a rowboat safely. Some of you will remember that. Those that don’t – well, just know it can be a challenge. In true fashion, however, the running community stepped up and made it work. We had so much fun!

The fun team relay teams were comprised of 2, 3 or 4 members with relay legs of varying length. While each team member had a bib, there was also a relay team bib that team members passed on to each other at the transition points. This team bib had the chip so that the start and finish times for the team would be recorded. Two shuttle buses and 3 sweep/shuttle vehicles went back and forth to the transition points to get team members where they needed to go to minimize traffic on the course.

One of the best parts of the relay was that new friendships were formed. People that needed teammates reached out, got together and pulled it off! In fact, the 3rd place team, “Three Dog Bite” was a team put together at the final hour with some team members not even knowing each other before the race! Jennifer Anderson teamed up with Hugh Emerson and Takashi Murashita to bring in 3rd place. The 1st place award went to “Triple Bypass” with team members Nancy Taube, Erin Schliep and Phil Schaefer and 2nd place was awarded to “OneOldThreeYoung” – Curtis Heider, Donnie Berry, Benjamin Heider, and Craig Nichols. The team relay gave many people an introduction to the Heart of America Marathon they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Some are already inspired to run a longer distance next year! The energy of the relay, with the cheers for team members and marathoners, alike served to shine yet another bright light on distance running and the running community at large.

Runners with the Heart of America Marathon and Inaugural Fun Team Relay seek out new challenges, community, new friendships and team spirit. It’s in the nature of all that is HOA. We seek to build one another up and to come alongside each other in our triumphs, struggles and set-backs. This is the “Heart” in the Heart of America Marathon.

See you in 2020! Your Columbia Track Club and Heart of America Marathon team is already planning.