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.
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
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
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.