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Mexican Runners Dominate 21st Marine Corps Marathon

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 1996 – A pair of Mexican navy petty officers grabbed the winning spotlights at the 21st annual Marine Corps Marathon, held here Oct. 27.


Isaac Garcia led from start to finish in claiming the 1996 title with a winning time of 2:15:09. Thirty minutes later, Emma Cabrera gave Mexico its second victory, capturing the women's marathon with a time of 2:48:34.


Nearly 19,500 athletes -- including about 3,600 military runners -- competed in the 1996 race. Competitors represented all 50 U.S. states and 30 foreign countries. The Marine Corps Marathon is the nation's fourth largest marathon, behind New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu. The Boston Marathon ranks fifth.


In posting the marathon's second fastest winning time, Garcia left no doubt he was the person to beat. "I saw the winning time last year and told myself that I could beat it," he said. "When I pulled out in front and saw no one challenging me, I made the decision that if I was going to beat it, I would do it alone."


And Garcia stayed alone throughout the race. By the time the Mexican hit the nine-mile marker in Washington's Georgetown District, he'd already built a three- to four-minute lead over  Samuel Lopez and Great Britain's Mark Croasdale. He was also on pace to break the course record -- 2:14:01 -- set by Jeff Scruffins of Hagerstown, Md., in 1987.


However, Garcia's record pace slowed as he hit the 20-mile marker at Hains Point -- a point he attributes to not having a challenger push him the final six miles. "When you try to set a record, you need to try with someone pushing you," said Garcia. "I needed someone else to make pressure on me to keep that pace."


Still, Garcia's pace was so great that he cruised to an eight-minute victory over Lopez. Croasdale took third, with Air Force Capt. Mark Cucuzzela of Lajes Air Base, Azores, taking fourth. Fifth place went to Marine Corps Capt. Alexander Heatherington of Camp Pendleton, Calif.


While Garcia decided his fate early in the men's race, Cabrera -- an experienced marathon runner who missed the Mexican Olympic trial because of an appendectomy -- waited for the right moment. During the first half of the women's race, she and Servidio kept equal pace as Arlington's Kelly McDonnell set the early tempo.


At the midway point, both Servidio and Cabrera passed McDonnell (who finished sixth) and turned the next eight miles into a running duel. "I felt pretty good at that point," said Servidio, who ran both 5,000 and 10,000 meters for the Virginia Cavaliers' track team. "But she stayed right with me, and I just didn't know how long I could keep [the pace] up."


Four miles from the finish, Cabrera made her move past Servidio. Trained in Mexico City's high-altitude (7,349 feet above seas level) and using her experience from 30 marathon events, Cabrera increased the pace the final four miles, easily taking the 1996 title. She quickly credited her Mexico City training for the victory. "It's an advantage I have when I get to lower altitudes," she said.


Jennifer Schretzmayer of Bellport, N.Y., captured third, finishing nearly two minutes behind Servidio and 6.5 minutes behind Cabrera. Christa Winslow of Binghamton, N.Y., finished fourth, followed by Beth Chernalis of Wyckoff, N.J.


Jon Franks of El Segundo, Calif., and Julia Wallace of Rumson, N.J., claimed top wheelchair division honors. Franks navigated the course in 1:38:05 to win the men's title. Carlos Moleda of Falls Church, Va., finished second, with Thomas Gorman of Littlestown, Pa., placing third.


Wallace, the only female competitor in wheelchair, had the second fastest time overall, crossing the finish line at 2:39:14.

Men's Competition

 1. Isaac Garcia            Mexico City                  2:15:09

 2. Samuel Lopez            Mexico City                  2:23:01

 3. Mark Croasdale          Exmouth, England             2:25:24

 4. Mark Cucuzzella         Lajes Air Base, Azores       2:27:20

 5. Alexander Hetherington  Camp Pendleton, Calif.       2:29:39

 6. Scott Brown             Yonkers, N.Y.                2:30:27

 7. Felix Duprey Alamo      Amelia Catono, Puerto Rico   2:30:43

 8. Mark Plaatjes           Boulder, Colo.               2:31:24

 9. Michael Mann            Newport News, Va.            2:32:27

10. Don Reeves              Arlington, Va.               2:32:56

Women's Competition

 1. Emma Cabrera            Mexico City                  2:48:34

 2. Sharon Servidio         Arlington, Va.               2:53:04

 3. Jennifer Schretzmayer   Bellport, N.Y.               2:55:00

 4. Christa Winslow         Binghamton, N.Y. 2:57:50

 5. Beth Chernalis          Wyckoff, N.J.                3:00:36

 6. Kelly McDonnell         Arlington, Va.               3:01:34

 7. Lynne Beth Williams     Sterling, Va.                3:02:41

 8. Barbara Bellows         Ithaca, N.Y.                 3:04:44

 9. Edith Berces            Washington                   3:05:14

10. Tracie Andrusiak        Ann Arbor, Mich.             3:06:22

Wheelchair Finishers

 1. Jon Franks              El Segundo, Calif.           1:38:05

 2. Carlos Moleda           Falls Church, Va.            1:55:32

 3. Thomas Gorman           Littlestown, Pa.             2:32:40

*4. Julia Wallace           Rumson, N.J.                 2:39:14

 5. Michael Atkins          Durham, N.C.                 2:47:51

 6. Phil Calkins            Vienna, Va.                  2:49:25

 7. Robert Rice             Rochelle Park, N.J.          2:57:45

 8. Peter Muellet           Townsend, Mass.              2:59:26

 9. Albert Nirenstein       Norwalk, Conn.               3:35:15

10. Kevin Smiley            Lancaster Pa.                4:37:43

* Only female competitor in wheelchair competition.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMexico's Emma Cabrera, a petty officer in the Mexican navy, runs through the tape held by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Carol A. Mutter to win the women's 1996 Marine Corps Marathon. Cabrera completed the course in 2:48:34. Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMexican navy Petty Officer Isaac Garcia passes a water point in Washington's Georgetown District en route to an eight-minute victory in the 1996 Marine Corps Marathon held Oct. 27. Garcia failed to beat the course record of 2:14:01, but now holds the second fastest winning time, completing the race in 2:15:09. Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNearly 19,500 runners begin their quest to complete the 21st annual Marine Corps Marathon, held every October. The race begins near Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery, winds its way past Washington's national monuments and ends near the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington. DoD Photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCarlos Moleda strokes up Washington's M Street, one- third of the way through the 1996 Marine Corps Marathon. Moleda captured second place in the men's wheelchair division, pushing through the 26.2-mile course in 1:55:32. Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCathy Knight helps Rick Tyson stretch minutes before the start of the 1996 Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 27 in Arlington, Va. Tyson, running the marathon for the first time, was part of group raising money through pledges to fight leukemia. Both are from Chapin, S.C. Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJulia Wallace of Rumson, N.J., battles a challenge from Thomas Gorman of Littlestown, Pa., during the wheelchair competition at the 1996 Marine Corps Marathon. Wallace would hold off Gorman's challenge to finish ahead of him overall. Wallace was also the top female finisher in the division. Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageBritish navy Lt. Mark Croasdale battles Mexican navy Petty Officer Samuel Lopez as they pass the 17-mile marker at the 1996 Marine Corps Marathon. Lopez would later pass Croasdale and finish second, nearly eight minutes behind teammate Isaac Garcia. Croasdale took third. Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA  
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