You can change the course, but you cannot change the weather. Although the 2002 L.A. Marathon organizers were quick to predict fast times on the new, relatively flat course, they were not so bold about predicting the weather, and it was the weather that made the biggest difference Sunday, not the course. Temperatures in the mid-60's at the start worked their way up to the high 70's as the day wore on and runners' legs wore out.
Perhaps most impressive this year from the club perspective was the great turnout. TCLA had 32 members finish, and half that many cheering people on and running them in. Given the heat, the accomplishment would be to finish, with the finish time being a far more distant concern. Still, TCLA's fastest man and woman were not about to concede a thing. Heading into the race, Tyrone Black wanted simply to run under three hours. Normally, that would not be a challenge for him, but with the sun cooking, he had to draw on his reserves to earn his mark with only two seconds to spare. Rikako Takei also did not have it easy, with calf cramps in the last few miles, but she pressed on to finish with a 3:12 as the twentieth woman overall, fourth in her division. Finishing between these two runners, Jorge Newbery and Terrence Moriarty set off at strong paces and gradually slowed.
Christian Dubugnon made the most of a first aid tent in the waning miles, and with a fresh ice pack on his knee, finished under 3:15. Paul Kasick, who had started out with Terrence, ended up a few minutes behind Christian. With no official time, but spotted several times on the course, Alex Weslowski probably ran around 3:20. One of the few to do so, Nicole Schuennemann barely broke a sweat on her way to a p.r. of 3:28. Finishing a few minutes behind her, Dave Kent understandably had trouble adjusting to the weather after spending the entire month February in Utah.
Brian Bartholomew also wanted to run faster than he did, but for not having run a full marathon in several years, he should be happy with his race. Likewise, Mark Harris thought he would have a faster time, but a late night gig in San Diego the night before might have affected his race. Following the pattern, Masami Fukuhara set off on a pace considerably faster than the one she would finish at, but, again, under these conditions, her time was reasonable.
One person who had a great day was Dennis King, setting a large p.r. He was helped greatly by Juan Barrera, who rode a bike to cheer on Dennis. Juan trained hard for this race himself, but sprained his ankle the day before. It was nice that he was able to still participate in a meaningful fashion. Elizabeth Farnan-Flynn ran faster than last year, though she will run faster on this course in the future. Exactly one minute behind her, Colin Walker crossed the line wearing his father's number (perhaps Colin was shooting for one of those age group prizes), and happy to crack the four-hour barrier. Almost exactly a minute behind him, Mike Kukuchka and Peggy Enriquez finished up their races, Peggy's effort good enough for sixth in her division. The last TCLA'er to break four hours, Tayo Balogun, improved on her previous year's time by seconds, but should be able to do much better than that with lower temperatures.
Jeff Bernstein, coming off the Las Vegas Marathon one month earlier, did not have the freshest legs on a day when one needed them, but he still managed a 4:08. Several minutes later, Paul Anderson and Alison Song finished up relatively well-paced races. Contrarily, minutes after them, Dean Goodman and John Daly finished up races in which they went out too fast for the day and paid dearly over the last few miles.
Ed Olson took to the sticky pavement and turned in a rare marathon performance. Alan Eyerly matched his best L.A. time, which should give him confidence that he can go well under that in the future. Similarly, Michele Havens came close to her best L.A. time, and she, too, should set out again on a cooler day to set a new p.r. Susan Rendell ran fifteen minutes faster than last year, though she rarely needs a reason to smile. Janet Fleishman had a lot of trouble getting in consistent training for this race, so she, too, should be smiling given her sub-five-hour effort.
Turning in the biggest time surprise of the day, Tom Geha, who had hoped for a 2:50, ran his first, and presumably last, five-hour marathon. Feeling nauseous at the halfway point, and flashing back to some heatstroke he suffered as a lad, Tom thought it wise to turn off the jets. Still, he made the most out of being on the course by waiting for his girlfriend, Echo, who was also running, to come by, and for the last few miles, the two of them were able to share the marathon experience together.
Morena Sanchez, who recently vowed to start coming more often to the track to get in better shape broke the six-hour mark, Ann Marie Donnelly broke the seven-hour mark, and Kim Brettler broke the eight-hour mark. Their runs were even tougher than they sound because the temperature was around 80 degrees by the time they were finishing up.
Finally, a hand for those TCLA'ers who either lined the course or ran part (and in several cases, most) of the course to help those suffering: Amy Aukstikalnis, Juan Barrera, Phil Barrow, Michael Berger, Cindy Bernstein, Stephanie Cahn, Jerry Enriquez, Ogie Espinosa, Schuyler Havens, Andreas Kemkes, Brian Panosian, Todd Patterson, Tim Petersen, Jacinda Raiche, David Silver, Clarence Smith, Jim Spear, Sam Spencer, Chi Vuong, Shannon Whaley, and Wenise Wong.
Runner Time Tyrone Black 2:59:58 Jorge Newbery 3:04:08 Terrence Moriarty 3:11:43 Rikako Takei 3:12:46 Christian Dubugnon 3:14:35 Paul Kasick 3:18:13 Alex Weslowski 3:??:?? Nicole Scheunemann 3:28:32 David Kent 3:31:45 Brian Bartholomew 3:37:07 Mark Harris 3:38:27 Masami Fukuhara 3:45:29 Dennis King 3:47:48 Elizabeth Farnan-Flynn 3:50:48 Colin Walker 3:51:48 Mike Kukuchka 3:52:43 Peggy Enriquez 3:52:46 Tayo Balogun 3:57:19 Jeff Bernstein 4:08:56 Paul Anderson 4:11:03 Alison Song 4:15:06 Dean Goodman 4:19:45 John Daly 4:21:37 Ed Olson 4:25:39 Alan Eyerly 4:26:21 Michele Havens 4:30:51 Susan Rendell 4:33:28 Janet Fleishman 4:54:30 Tom Geha 5:32:18 Morena Sanchez 5:41:52 Ann Marie Donnelly 6:14:38 Kim Brettler 7:51:56
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