Marathon Notebook

Hartmann provides US a top-four presence

By Barbara Matson and John Powers
Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff / April 17, 2012
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Jason Hartmann looks like an unlikely marathoner. In Monday’s wilting mid-80s temperatures, the 6-foot-3-inch, 31-year-old Michigan native came striding down Boylston Street, his pace strong, his head held high, still boasting enough energy to wave to the crowds. He ran across the line to claim fourth place in the Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 31 seconds, the first American to finish.

Hartmann grew up in Rockford, Mich., and went to college at the running mecca of Oregon. He now lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., and his running credentials include qualifying for two Olympic marathon trials, a spot on the US team at the Pan American Games, the World Cross-Country Championships, and the World Half Marathon Championships.

It was a disappointing 32d place finish at the Olympic trials in Houston in January that moved Hartmann to concentrate on Boston.

“This was a redemption race for me,’’ said Hartmann. “I felt like I was a contender to make the Olympic team, I felt like I had a shot to make the team. Unfortunately for me, I had a bad day.

“I circled this day on my calendar and everything was coming to today. I wasn’t going to fail today.’’

Hartmann started out with the pack, a big one of approximately 15.

“The pace wasn’t blistering,’’ he said. “We weren’t attacking the downhills or anything; nothing was over my head.’’

Given the heat, the pack moved at a slower-than normal pace. “I had the opportunity to work with some of these guys up front, put myself in position,’’ he said. “They took off about 16-17 miles, I stayed under control. A lot of people went with the front group and I was able to pick a few of those guys off.’’

Hartmann’s steady pace paid off.

“Boston doesn’t have pacemakers so no one really broke out aggressively from the pack,’’ Hartmann said. “Nothing that I felt was over my head, so I just assessed when they made a strong move, trying to assess if I could handle it.’’

A first-timer at Boston, Hartmann solicited information from people before the race as well as on the course.

“It’s hard enough as it is,’’ he said. “You have to manage your energy. So many times you just wanted to throw in the towel but you just fought on.’’

Hartmann said he didn’t let the heat affect him, reminding himself that everyone had to deal with it. He began the race wearing a hat to keep his head cool and took fluids at every stop, so eagerly he splashed volunteers handing out the water nearly every time.

The first American woman to finish was Sheri Piers, in 10th place (2:41:55).

“It went better than I expected with the weather,’’ said the Falmouth, Maine, resident.

Piers noted that it was useless to, well, sweat the hot weather.

“There is nothing you can do,’’ she said. “It’s out of our control and we’re all going to be doing the same thing. Fortunately, I tend not to sweat too much and I fared better for that reason.’’

Piers may come from a state known for its long, cold winters, but she said she did most of her training not on the roads of Maine but on a treadmill in a “room that was definitely warmer than most, and I think that helped me today.’’

First-time winners

There was excitement and drama in both the men’s and women’s wheelchair races, as a pair of first-time winners, a Canadian and an Eskimo, ignored the soaring temperatures to push their way to victories.

Canadian Joshua Cassidy dominated the men’s wheelchair race in his first Boston Marathon, finishing in a world-best 1:18:25. It was the third marathon for the 27-year-old from Toronto.

Shirley Reilly, 26, lives in Arizona, where she is a junior at the University of Arizona, though she is a native Alaskan. She shrugged her shoulders when asked about the heat. “I’m from Arizona so 80 degrees isn’t very hot for me,’’ she said.

After racing wheel to wheel with Wakako Tsuchida for most of the race, Reilly charged past the defending champion in a sprint down Boylston Street to the finish line. Reilly won in 1:37:36, a second ahead of Tsuchida. Canada’s Diane Roy was third in 1:42:37.

“I have never beaten either one of them before,’’ said Reilly, “so it was really exciting. It means a lot. I’m very excited. It was kind of a surprise. Wakako and Diane are very good competitors.’’

“From the very beginning,’’ Tsuchida said, “I had to push myself. At 30K, I realized it was going to be a very tight race, and I imagined in my head how the finish would be. Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way this year.’’

Instead, Reilly has changed the landscape. Last year, Tsuchida beat her by seven minutes.

“I’ve been trying really hard,’’ Reilly said. “Every year, I’ve been trying to get better and better. Today turned out to be my day.’’

Reilly has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. She raced in the Paralympic Games in 2004 and 2008.

Master feats

Uli Steidl of Seattle, who turned 40 in March, won the men’s Masters race, finishing 15th overall in 2:23:08. A native of Germany but now a US citizen, Steidl said he had little preparation for the heat.

“Training in Seattle, where we didn’t have any days over 60, [Boston] was a little shock to the system,’’ he said. “But I ran a smart race and passed the second-place master at mile 23 1/2. If you win, you’re always happy.’’

Svetlana Pretot of France won the women’s masters race in 2:40:50.

Mutai first, for now

Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai dropped out of Monday’s race but he still leads the World Marathon Majors list with 50 points based on his Boston and New York victories last year. That could change after Sunday’s London Marathon, where three of his pursuers - countrymen Emmanuel Mutai (40 points), Patrick Makau (35), and Abel Kirui (25) - are competing. The winner will collect 25 points, the runner-up 15. Whoever tops the standings at year’s end will earn $500,000.

Lilly kicks into gear

Kristine Lilly, long the US women’s soccer team’s ironwoman, went the distance in her 26-mile debut. “I don’t even know what to say except, I finished it,’’ tweeted Lilly, who was clocked in 4:27:45. The “Queen of Caps’’ and two-time Olympic gold medalist holds the record for most international soccer appearances with 352 . . . The mother-daughter duo of Joan and Abby Samuelson started and finished together, as they’d planned to in celebration of both the 40th anniversary of the first official women’s race here and of Title IX. “It was a tough one,’’ said Abby, who crossed the line alongside the two-time champion in 3:28:08. “But it was really nice to race with my mom.’’ . . . It was a particularly long slog on a brutal day but Ben Beach of Bethesda, Md., drew even with Neil Weygandt, who didn’t run this year, as the competitor who has completed the most consecutive marathons with 45. The 62-year-old Beach, who ran his first one on a warm day in 1968, crossed the line in 5:55:22. If he finishes next year, he’ll be alone at the top.

John Powers can be reached at

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