St. Mark's 30K goes off without hitch (1999)
The St. Mark’s 30K once again went off without a hitch thanks to David and Judy Waters . The weather was unusually perfect although it did warm up a little bit too much during the last half. In the absence of any big name stars, a contingent of about eight runners were grouped together within a minute of each other for the long trek out to the turn-around.
The race was led early by the trio of our 1998 Overall Men’s Grand Prix Winner, Mike LaBossiere, long-distance specialist Brian Corbin, and quickly improving Walt Spangler. A safe distance back sat Doug Gorton, Ronnie Godwin, Tim Unger, Felton Wright and an unknown, Jerrod Libonati, who came complete with a pace car. By the turn-around the pace had picked up enough to spread these eight out over a minute or two. Libonati began a surge around 9 miles at about the same time Spangler fell off the intense pace being set by Corbin and LaBossiere. It should be noted that Spangler and Wright ran excellent times at the Tallahassee Marathon just a few weeks earlier and no doubt they were feeling it midway through this 30K.
By the 20K mark Libonati and his pace car had closed to about 15 seconds of the two leaders and it looked like he had the lead in mind. Gorton was running alone in fourth trying to hang within swearing distance of Libonati. Unger, still coming off his dastardly skate boarding accident, along with Wright, Spangler and hard- charging Godwin stayed within eyesight. At around 25K Libonati suddenly slowed his pace by 10-20 seconds per mile allowing Gorton, and later Godwin, to get by him. Finally, and happily for Gorton, Corbin and LaBossiere began to slow at 17 miles, allowing Gorton to catch them. With the three of them picking up the pace together for the last mile, LaBossiere, sensing perhaps that Gorton would win with one of his cheap kicks in the last 100 yards, turned to him and said, “I’m at least going to make you hurt!” With that he surged ahead and true to his word gave Gorton the run for his life. Gorton said that he could credit only his fast twitch muscle fibers for the victory, along with the fact that Gary Droze, Tim Simpkins, David Ogletree and Paul Hoover didn’t show up. With three seconds separating Gorton and LaBossiere, it was probably the closest finish in the history of the St. Mark’s 30K. Jane Johnson was uncontested for the women’s race in spite of running the the New Orleans Sugar Bowl Marathon in 2:58 just one week earlier. Mention should be made of the nice awards of wooden light houses/bird houses made possible by the Waters’.