COLUMBIA — Two hundred sixty-five runners competed in Monday’s Heart of America Marathon, a Columbia Labor Day staple for 51 years.
Started by Bill Clark, a former Columbia Parks and Recreation member in 1960, people from around the country and world have participated in this race. In the 40 years Joe Duncan has served as race director, there have been runners from Thailand, Singapore, England, Russia, Germany as well as many of the 50 states.
Overall finishers list for 2010 entrants.
The marathon began just east of the Hearnes Center on Stadium Boulevard. With six major hills, the course wound to the southern edge of Boone County, along the Missouri River. The race ended at Broadway and Seventh Street.
Volunteers handed out water and Gatorade at various aid stations along the route, and spectators were able to watch the runners along the course. The majority of spectators gathered at the bottom of Easley Hill, the midpoint of the course, at mile 12.
“The course is extremely challenging,” Duncan said. “It’s challenging because of the three Hs: heat, hills and humidity.”
Missouri’s humidity wasn’t a factor in Monday’s race, which is usually the most challenging part of Heart of America, Schulz said. With temperatures in the lower 60s and a slight breeze — the weather was ideal for may runners.
The hill on Providence Road was one of the major obstacles runners encountered.
“Those were mega hills,” said Stacey Slover, 44, of Kansas City. “This was my longest training run. My next marathon is in Hartford, Conn., which will be a cakewalk compared to this.”
But the hills don't stop people from competing year after year. Duncan has finished the marathon nine times. And John Schulz, 52, of Columbia has run it 14 times.
Schulz said he was a junior varsity cross-country runner at his high school in Minnesota.
“I wasn’t very good,” Schulz said. “One of the senior runners got hurt, and the coach bumped me up to varsity. We ran on golf courses, and we had to do a warmup lap of the course before the meet started. I knew I could only run around that course once. Needless to say, I got moved back down to junior varsity after that.”
He now runs four marathons a year, two in the spring and two in the fall.
“I like running because it’s something old guys can do,” Schulz said.
The Heart of America Marathon is a training run for some, like Allan Benjamin, 54, of Lincoln, Neb. He plans to compete in the Ozark Trail 100, a 100-mile run on Nov. 6 that ends in Jefferson City.
Runners were greeted at the finish line with a participation medal and free Shakespeare’s pizza during the awards ceremony.
Dann Fisher, 47, of Manhattan, Kan., finished first overall with a time of 2:54.15. Kevin Lambert, 26, of Kansas City, and Tom Whalen, 44, of St. Louis were the top male finishers behind Fisher. The top three female finishers were Sara Major, 29, of Pittsburgh, Kan., Christine Fisher, 39, of Arnold, and Stacey Slover, 44, of Kansas City.