- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

One of the most dramatic moments in Marine Corps Marathon history occurred 18 years ago when Farley Simon emerged from the pack and became the first Marine to win the race created by Marines.
Yesterday, Simon provided more dramatics.
Trailing leader Paul Zimmerman by more than 3 minutes halfway through the 26th edition of the event, the 46-year-old retired gunnery sergeant stalked and caught Zimmerman of Austin, Texas, with three miles remaining in the 26.2-mile race and stormed to victory in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 28 seconds.
"This is unbelievable," said Simon, who became the oldest victor with the slowest time and only the third two-time male champion in race history. "If somebody would have said 18 years after my first victory I would win again, I would have said they were crazy."
While Simon was enjoying the thrill of victory, Zimmerman was moved to tears by the agony of defeat. The former elite marathoner, who ran here 13 years ago, had sworn to return one day to win one for his stepfather, John Jones. Furthermore, he was hoping to complete a winning sweep with his wife of 10 months.
Lori Stich Zimmerman, 31, did her part by leading the entire way, fighting the dry heaves in the late stages and winning by almost six minutes in 2:48:12.
"It was really important to Paul," said Stich Zimmerman, an attorney and concert pianist who competed in last year's Olympic Marathon Trials. "His stepfather [who was at the race] fought at Iwo Jima. We wanted to come here to win one of us or both for his stepfather."
"He has an attitude either you come in first or you lose," said his mother, Anita Zimmerman Jones of Greensburg, Pa.
Emotions, as well as security, already were high as the race was dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Participants were aware of the risk of attack on the race, with a starting line of 15,011 runners and a course which passed directly by the gaping hole in the Pentagon.
After the race, director Rick Nealis said: "I think we beat the bad guys."
Runners could see the stunning site of the Pentagon at the 31/2-mile point. Simon purposefully viewed the damage on Thursday so he would not be shocked on race day.
"I was running in a pack that was large at that point," said Simon, who retired last November to Honolulu and had spent many hours in the Pentagon during his career. "I was constantly glancing at it and it was a horrible thing. I'm glad I went and saw it before today."
Zimmerman, who worked at the Armed Forces Institute for Pathology at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington while he was a sergeant in the Army from 1984 to 1988, was all alone ahead of the field of 14,606 finishers by the time he turned down Columbia Pike and stared directly into the charred building.
Zimmerman took three long glances at the Pentagon as he strolled into its parking lot.
"I had tears in my eyes," said Zimmerman, a 40-year-old chemist for Intel Corp. who competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials. "You see it on television and you're immune from it. Then you see it live and know that people died there."
By then, Zimmerman had hit his stride despite the winds and was clicking off 5:25 and 5:30 miles like clockwork through Rosslyn at eight miles. The pack behind him included Simon, runner-up Juan Lopez of the Mexican Navy, two-time champion Darrell General and Steve Payne of the British Royal Navy.
Through Georgetown and Rock Creek Park, Zimmerman stayed true to his pace, which would have equaled the 2:23 he ran at the Boston Marathon earlier this year. After the turnaround in the park, he passed Lori and she cheered for him.
He crossed the halfway mark in 1:10:58, just more than three minutes ahead of Simon. With security along the course expected to be tight, the crowds were light this year, especially around Capitol Hill.
Zimmerman started slowing at 19 miles, then 2 miles later, he was in trouble.
"At 21, I made the turn and I could feel it I had to back off," he said, referring to the tightening of both of his hamstrings. "It would just be a waiting game before I was passed."
He struggled to a 6:30 mile followed by a 7:44 mile.
Halfway across the 14th Street Bridge at Mile 23, Simon and Lopez suddenly appeared on the horizon.
"When I couldn't see him, it was hard," said Simon, who dropped out after 10 miles last year with a groin injury. "When I was going onto the bridge and I saw the flashing lights, I didn't think it was him. Then I saw the press truck and I saw him and he looked in trouble."
Coming off the bridge half a mile later, Simon swiftly passed Zimmerman. The two glanced briefly at each other and Zimmerman clapped once and said "Go," according to Simon. Then a minute later, Lopez went by the crippled Zimmerman.
Simon lengthened his lead on Lopez to the finish by 1:03. Lopez, in his 99th marathon, was second, as he was last year and in 1996. Payne, 45, was third in 2:31:27. Zimmerman dragged in at 15th place in 2:38:24.
"I would have walked, even crawled on stumps," said Zimmerman.
After the race, he turned to his wife and said, "She deserves this day, the day is hers. If anything good comes out of this, she doesn't have to share the day with me."

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