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Boston Marathon Course section


Hibell took it, personally

By Allen Lessels, Globe Staff 4/18/00

Jamie Hibell sat shivering in the lobby of the Copley Plaza Hotel and pulled another shirt over the Spiderman tattoo on his right biceps and the dragon on his chest.

``College,'' Hibell said with a smile, explaining the body art.

Hibell was both chilled and thrilled yesterday at the end of the Boston Marathon.

Chilled by the time-slowing headwind that he and the rest of the marathoners dealt with all day. And thrilled that he fought through the wind for a personal-best time to be the top US male finisher. Hibell, 28, running in his second marathon, turned in a time of 2:22:09 for 24th place overall.

He was shooting for a sub-2:20 and was well aware that the field of Americans was diluted because the Olympic trials are early next month in Pittsburgh.

Still, he'll gladly take what he got and go home to Bethlehem, Pa., happy.

``It was a personal best,'' Hibell said. ``You can never argue when you run better than you ever have before.''

Hibell plans to take a break from marathoning and could do without running into the wind for a while.

He was happy with his race preparation last fall when he took a one-shot attempt at qualifying in Pittsburgh for the Olympic Trials. He ran against wind there, too, and finished in 2:26:43, short of the qualifying time of 2:22.

He ran a half-marathon last month. Wind again. And still he put up a personal best of 1:06:09.

Then came yesterday. More wind.

He was not with the front pack, and went much of the race alone and looking for others to offer wind resistance.

``For a while it was a matter of seeing who was falling off the pack and then trying to reel them in,'' Hibell said. ``It was using what you could to keep moving forward.''

At 5 feet 6 inches, 130 pounds, it was a battle.

``It works well on the hills when you're short and compact,'' Hibell said. ``But when you get hit by the wind, you're like a little kite.''

A Division 3 All-American in the 5,000 at Allentown College in Center Valley, Pa., Hibell wants to put his last eight months or so of marathon training to good use at shorter distances.

``I think he has a pretty positive future in the marathon,'' said Bud Coates, Hibell's coach who finished among the top five masters yesterday. ``But right now, he's trained for two marathons back to back. This will give him a good chance to recover and take advantage of some of the distance training that he's never done before.''

He will do some 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, and he'll check out the national cross-country championships.

``It's like going back to your first sport as a high school kid,'' Hibell said. ``I like to run and get muddy.''

But his running future, he thinks, probably lies in the marathon.

That fact, and this finish, will likely bring him back next year.

``Boston may be his next marathon,'' Coates said. ``After this, I think he'll be pretty high.''

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