Rocket City Marathon notebook

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Huntsville Times

Heider happy to finish second

Caitlin Heider groaned while requiring a helping hand - or two, or three - upon finishing Saturday's Rocket
City Marathon, the first time she'd gone the 26.2-mile distance.

"Happy or tired?" someone asked.

"TIRED!" she said.

That's what running a 2:53.52 marathon will do to you. It will also earn you a second-place women's finish behind Jill Horst of Rome, Ga.

"The last three miles I was like 'Can I stop?' " said Heider, who recently completed her career at UAH. "After 23 miles my legs were not feeling good."

Heider picked up $750 for her effort, but she didn't plan on having the money for long.

"I'm going shopping for Christmas presents," she said.

Riddle me this
Former Bob Jones High and Auburn star David Riddle ran with the lead pack for the first 18-plus miles before eventual winner Josh Cox broke away. Considering it was his first marathon - and he was battling a tender hamstring - Riddle came away mostly pleased with his fifth-place finish (2:27.27).

"I felt really good aerobically, but I felt (my hamstring) about seven miles in," he said. I just wanted to hang in there as long as I could and I did."

"As bad as I felt the last six miles, I'm just happy I finished. I would have liked to have run faster, but that's all I had."

 Masters and commanders
Madison's George Dewitt finished second in the masters division and picked up $750 in the process. The 50-year-old ran a 2:39.17, about six minutes behind masters winner James Beyer of Dayton, Ohio, who came in eighth overall.

Race winners each received $1,000. Second place received $750, third place $500 and fourth and fifth place $250. Masters winners got $750, with second place receiving $500 and third place $250.

Race numbers
The race had 1,406 runners registered, with approximately 1,250 people actually picking up their race packets before the start of the marathon and 1,121 finishing the race.

Rome tradition
As the top female finisher in Saturday's Rocket City Marathon, Jill Horst continued what's becoming a tradition. It's the third straight year the top female has hailed from Rome, Ga.

Janet Cherobon, who sat out Saturday's race, was the top female in 2007 and '08.

"That is very special," Cherobon said. "That's why I came down here to cheer her on. It's very exciting for us."

The two train together when their schedules allow. "I just told her not to go too fast and the course is going to be good," Cherobon said of her advice to Horst. "It's a great course and the people here are great. She did great. I was really proud of her."

Eyeing the Olympics
Horst has a long-term goal in her running - to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2012. She said the speculation is that runners must run a marathon in less than 2 hours, 46 minutes to qualify for the Trials - which is where the Olympic team is chosen. Horst posted a career-best Saturday of 2:48.

"You never know what can happen once you get there," Horst said of the Trials. "But that's my goal, to get there and run with all the women I read about and look up to so much."

Bill Bryant and PaulGattis