Randall tumbles as Kemppel takes eighth title

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

Pain is temporary. But pride lasts a lifetime.

This describes two-time junior Mount Marathon champ and last year's senior women's runner-up Kikkan Randall's fall from contention with perennial queen of the women's race, Nina Kemppel. Pain came from multiple falls in a bed of shale on the way down, subsequently missing a chance to overtake Kemppel and finishing the race with a time of 1 hour, 28 minutes and 14 seconds -- 35 minutes slower than her personal-best time. Pride from being able to get up and finish the race anyway.

"If I don't finish the race, I'll have to go through the lottery next year," Randall said.

With no one else to chase her, Kemppel easily won her eighth Mount Marathon Thursday -- and her seventh in a row -- in Seward with a time of 55:04. But Kemppel said she felt the heat, both from Randall and from the balmy treeline as she began her climb up the mountain.

"Kikkan was definitely a motivator on the uphill," Kemppel said. "She really pushed hard. I was definitely running from her.

"Considering the heat, my time is not too bad,"she said. "I was struggling with that. I was as tired as I've ever been."

Her pain on the 3,022-foot incline was subsided, however, by pride in her mother Mary Kemppel's accomplishment, finishing the race at age 60, with a time of 1:28:50 -- a new record for the 60 and up age group.

Kemppel was equally pleased with her own accomplishment of consecutive wins. And she said she will continue to run, striving for Nancy Pease's 1990 record of 50:40.

"Why not?" Kemppel said. "I'm only 31. Compared to my mother, that's only halfway."

Seward's Lisa Hartman, formerly Lisa Corbin, took second place, finishing with a time of 1:01:08. She was on her fourth race and has been steadily climbing the top 10 list of finishers.

"This was my best finish," Hartman said. "I've been sixth, then fourth, then third, now this."

She was the fifth to reach the summit and gained second place after Randall's untimely fall from the trail, but said she didn't realize her good fortune until she had returned to the street and was approaching the finish line.

"I saw (Kikkan) sitting on the side, but I really didn't think it was her," Hartman said. "Then somebody told me, 'You're in second.' But it didn't click until when I was on the road."

Randall said she succumbed to heat exhaustion going through the trees during the climb. While she was fast on Kemppel's heels, she said she could feel her body giving out.

"On the way down, I could feel my legs getting away from me," she said. "Going across the open field, I did a cartwheel and fell in the shale. I had some pretty good speed going, and I tried to climb back up and get my glasses and bandanna.

"I fell again on my butt six times. When the waterfall was coming up, I knew if I kept going, I was going to hurt myself. So I sat down for about 10 minutes."

Randall said she knew something was different when she reached the treeline on the ascent.

"I've had the same problem when I'm in the trees," she said. "I'm also not in as good shape as I was last year, but I still pushed myself as hard. I probably pushed myself a little too hard."

Her mother, Debbie Randall won the women's race in 1975 as Debbie Haynes. The senior Randall said she became worried when she didn't see her daughter descend from the mountain in a position near where she began her climb. And one runner's words of assurance, she said, did little to help.

"(Someone) went by and said, 'Don't worry, she's OK,'" Debbie Randall said. "That really made me worry. I didn't know what happened. I'm just glad she was safe."

Cedar Petrosius of Seward won third place after wining the third lottery ticket the night before. Taking time off to have two children -- 2-year-old son Zen and 23-month-old daughter Coral -- she had not run the race since 1997, when she also finished third.

"I've been waiting five years to do it again," Petrosius said. "I've been packing them and pushing them everywhere for three years. I was hoping that would give me an edge."

Kelli Jo Boonstra, of Ninilchik, finished sixth after two years off, with a time of 1:02:31. She took second place in her 1999 run, and had run seven years straight prior to that. She said she didn't know what to expect from the race, but planned on gaining ground descending the mountain.

"I was 11th to the top and passed five girls on the way down," Boonstra said. "I figured on a few. I'm pretty wild coming down."

She had to pay $410 for the auction this year because she was off for two years to have her 23 month-old daughter Riana with her husband, three-time Mount Marathon champ Todd Boonstra. And she said she's uncertain whether she'll compete again next year.

"It's so addictive," Boonstra said. "But we'll see. Maybe if I'm not pregnant."

Kenai resident Jayne Hempstead said she was proud to have finished with a time of 1:31:14, and said after competing for eight years, the race was so contagious, she hoped to go for another 39 years.

"It was awesome, as always," she said. "It just gets in your skin. You can't not run. I want to keep doing this when I'm 80."

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