Friday, December 16, 2011

Ultrarunning May 1981

This race report originally appeared in the May 1981 edition of Ultrarunning Magazine.  It is typed as seen in the original magazine.

Knickerbocker Knocks Back Record...3:40:42 for 60 km
by Stan Wagon

The NYRRC's 1981 Ultra Series got off to a fine start on March 7, with the fourth annual Knickerbocker 60 km run in Central Park. Several inches of snow the previous day and a brisk wind made for chilly spectators and split recorders, but the road in the park was free of snow, and the conditions were good for running. Central Park joggers must be fairly used to weekend races by now, and they seem to enjoy the presence of such events.

The pre-race favorite was Bill DeVoe of Queens, who has an impressive ultra record for someone who's only been running seriously for three years.  In 1980 he defeated Allan Kirik in a 40-miler, won the national TAC 50 km championship and the Philadelphia Marathon, and placed 4th at Boston with a 2:24:47.  Bill led through the first lap in 38:02, but was not running away from the field, as both Larry Friedman and Terry Knickerbocker looked strong, 30 seconds back.

The race was a homecoming of sorts for the 32-year-old Knickerbocker.  He had won the inaugural version of this race 4 years ago, running a U.S. best time to do it.  Incidentally, the race was not named for Terry, but, after it was over, it was certain that if you heard someone say "Knickerbocker" it was Terry they meant, not the race.  While not a force in ultras since that 60 km win, Terry staged a comeback of sorts.  Free of injury, and with 27 straight weeks of 100+ miles (and, notes Terry, "weight work to develop my quads") he felt ready for a good race.

DeVoe held the lead with two more laps in the 36 minute range, but, the fourth time around, Knickerbocker made a strong move, taking the lead with a 35:52.  DeVoe  was suffering a bit from stomach cramp sand was unable to stay at the front.  But Knickerbocker seemed to get stronger and smoother as the race progressed.  After 50 km it was clear that he was not going to be pressed, and with a split of 3:04:05, he knew he had a chance to regain the record he set four years ago.  That record had been improved twice, by Alan Kirik, and, this past January, by Frank Bozanich, who lowered it to 3:44:10 (see story elsewhere in this issue).  But Terry pushed himself through the final lap, finishing in a new U.S. best of 3:40:42 (5:55 pace).   The field included many old-timers on the N.Y.C. ultra seen, and all seemed quite pleased at Knickerbocker's return to form.

Larry Friedman's steady race earned him a fine time to go along with his second place finish (6:15 pace), while 41-year-old Bob Van De Kieft ran a noteworthy 4:09.  The list of finishers read like a who's who of east coast ultramarathoning, and if that wasn't evident, it was made clear at the awards ceremony.  Race director Richie Innamorato presided, and he seemed to know the ultra history of each of the top 20 runners as well as they knew the road in Central Park.
It was no surprise that 45-year-old Sue Medaglia was the first woman.  She was displeased at how much her time was slowed by several pit stops, but still, it's the third best amount American women.  And there was no surprise int he team competition either, as the Millrose team, Knickerbocker, DeVoe, and Bill Hart, won easily.

At the awards ceremony, Allan Kirik was presented with the NYRRC'c Ultra Runner of the Year Award for 1980.  Highlights of the year for Kirik included a strong second place int he London-Brighton 54 miler, a super-fast 6:37:54 for 100 km (6:24 pace), and a sub five hour effort for 50 miles in windy conditions at Copper Harbor, Mich.

Knickerbocker 60 Km

Central Park, N.Y. March 7, 1981
Certified  37.28 mi

1.   Terry Knickerbocker    3:40:42 (American Record)
2.   Larry Friedman            3:53:23
3.   Bill DeVoe                  4:00:52
4.   Tom Chiaro                 4:03:18
5.   Bob Van De Kieft       4:09:16
6.   Bill Lawder                 4:13:38
7.   Glenn Olszewski         4:16:22
8.   Bill Hart                      4:17:54
9.   Rafael Bordonaba       4:19:55
10. Martin Kittell              4:20:05
31. Sue Medaglia              5:09:11

I only typed in the top 10 and first place woman, there were 47 finishers and 58 starters.

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