U.S. marathoners come up short in heat Brantly, Kempainen, Coogan meet their match

Atlanta Olympics

August 05, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Keith Brantly trained in the heat of South Florida. Mark Coogan ran in the Rockies. And, because of injuries, U.S. Olympic trials champion Bob Kempainen barely put in any miles at all.

The three Americans in yesterday's men's marathon had different methods to their madness for getting ready to compete tTC in the 1996 Olympics, but none was prepared for what they faced between 19 and 24 miles.

"It was a death march," said Brantly.

"It was as if people were walking up the hills," said Coogan.

"I hit the wall," said Kempainen, "and I never hit the wall."

Though all three finished on an extremely humid morning -- it was hotter at the beginning of the men's race than it was for the end of the women's marathon a week before -- none was a factor in the outcome.

Brantly, 23, was the top American finisher, coming in 28th in a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 17 seconds. Kempainen, the 30-year-old who completed his medical studies shortly after winning the trials in February, was three spots and 21 seconds behind Brantly. Coogan, a 30-year-old University of Maryland graduate, was 41st in 2: 20: 27.

"Right at about 35 kilometers, things started to unravel," said Brantly, who trains in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I'm very surprised [to finish that high], considering the course. I don't think I could have done any better in my preparation. I just got slammed."

Kempainen, who finished 17th in Barcelona, Spain, was disappointed by his outcome. But considering that he had to cut way down on his training because of injuries to both shins, he was happy to have finished.

"It's better to run and suffer than wonder what would have happened," said Kempainen, whose place in marathon lore is secured by the gastrointestinal problems he encountered at the trials in Charlotte, N.C.

As for Coogan, it was a chance to experience what his wife, Gwyn, went through in Barcelona. Gwyn, who failed to make the team in either the marathon or 10,000 meters this year, served as her husband's cheerleader yesterday.

"She kept telling me to suck it up," he said. "She never said, 'You look great.' But I guess I didn't."

Pub Date: 8/05/96

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