Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Boston's Best Illinois Moments

As you quietly curse this ridiculous cold, wet weather, here is some local history from America's most famous footrace, the B.A.A. Marathon, which will be run for the 113th time this Monday, Patriots' Day in Massachusetts.
Yes, we had a winner. Charles Mellor of Chicago won the 1925 race over legendary seven-time Boston champ Clarence DeMar of Melrose, MA,, winning in 2:33:0 to DeMar's 2:33:37. Mellor had finished second to DeMar the year before. Quoting from the B.A.A. press guide, "Running with a wad of tobacco tucked inside his cheek and the morning edition of the Boston Globe placed inside the front of his shirt to serve as a windbreaker, Mellor finally pulled away from DeMar on Beacon Street, within two miles of the finish." Mellor also finished second in 1921.
Craig Virgin, of downstate Lebanon, IL, and University of Illinois fame, ran a great race in 1981, running 2:10:26, but lost to Japanese great Toshihiko Seko by a full minute.
Illinois had a pair of third-place finishes as well. Wallie Carlson of Chicago surged at the end for the No. 3 spot in 1923, and well-known miler Joie Ray, I believe of Chicago, was third in 1928.
And stretching our borders just a bit, Hal Higdon, officially of Indiana but of University of Chicago fame, was top American and fifth overall in 1964 with a 2:21:55. I'm betting many of you have used Hal's marathon training programs over the years.
And we might as well sneak north as well. Kim Merritt of Racine, WI, was the 1976 women's champion, running a 2:47:10, winning by 5:17 over Miki Gorman of California.
In the wheelchair division, Champaign's history-making Jean Driscoll won eight times (1990-96 and 2000), setting a world best of 1:34:22 in 1993. Shahan Rahn (1977) and Christina Ripp (2003) also rolled to victories representing Illinois.
And some recent history: Nancy Rollins of Evanston is two-time defending champ in women's 60-69; Kurt Fiene of Elmhurst is defending champ for vision impaired and Harry Roberts of Illinois won men's 60-69 in 1982.
Let me know what I missed!


Anonymous said...

Bob you rock! This is great information for runners to appreciate Illinois' contributions to Boston Marathon history. Glad to see you back in fine bloggin' form! Are you running?
Cheers! Brenda B

Bob Richards said...

Brenda, thanks. I'll be on the line at Hopkinton. My head already is on Boylston Street. Now, I have to get my body there, too! I just don't want rain. I'll take anything else.

Anonymous said...

Ah Bob, you forget Chris Bunyan in Boston in 1981. 2:10:54 in 1983 when he was at SIU. Bunyan, of course, was legendary for saying "Every race comes down to 30 seconds of pain, you don't know when it will come, but you've gotta bite you lip and get on with it". At the end of Boston, Bunyan's jersey was stained crimson from the blood dripping from his lip. Mack

Bob Richards said...

Mack, thanks. I knew there would be someone I forgot. Thanks for the info. What's really bad was I was there covering the race that year.

rappin' rise said...

Good luck on Monday, Uncle Bob! We will be watching you online and via text messages! Selim, Pete, and Ayse