- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

BALTIMORE They call it Charm City, but for many runners at yesterday's second annual Baltimore Marathon, the 26.2 miles of up and down hills were not so charming.
And this new course was designed in response to the swell of complaints that the course was too hilly last year.
Even Russian Elvira Kolpakova, who successfully defended her 2001 title with a time of 2:50:01, some two minutes faster this year, said the course's difficulty was "the same as last year."
Yet, despite the trying course, Kolpakova and men's champion, Erick Kimayo of Kenya ( 2:17:44), were not complaining about the hills or the lovely 50-degree temperature. Each pocketed a check for $3,000 for their efforts.
They left that to the runners who finished in their wake or the ones who protested by not showing up to this year's running.
Many of those runners from last year did not come back. Some 6,649 registrants and 4,829 finishers made last year's race the nation's 13th largest marathon. Entries for yesterday's event did not even break 3,000.
When asked if he'd run Baltimore again next year, sixth-place finisher and top master Steven Ward of Reston said: "I'll have to think about that. They said they made the course less hilly, but whew. As long as you mandate that the course has to touch all neighborhoods of Baltimore, it's going to be hilly."
The fact is Baltimore has a lot of hills, and short of running 50 laps around the perimeter of Camden Yards, this marathon is always going to be a challenge and not necessarily a place where personal bests are set by everybody in the race.
As a result, Kolpakova and Kimayo, each a world-class marathoner, overmatched the competition.
Fila, one of the race's sponsors, brought in Kimayo, one of its athletes and the man who oversees Fila Discovery Kenya Kapsait Camp for Kenya's top youth cross country runners. The 33-year-old made his marathon debut in 1995 by placing third in Tokyo in 2:10:47.
Heading into yesterday, his best time in nine marathons was a 2:07:43, good for the runner-up spot at Berlin in 1997. He ran a 2:13:49 in June in San Diego, but he admits his focus these days is more on coaching.
Those credentials seemed to be no match for the resume of 20-year-old Charles Kamindo. Last year, the Kenyan who trains in an Atlanta suburb called Kennesaw ran 2:20:39 at Detroit and four months ago he went 2:21:39 at Grandma's in Duluth, Minn.
"I've known Erick since high school," Kamindo said. "When he did his 2:07, I was in my third year of high school."
So Kamindo knew exactly what he was up against.
"He has much experience and is a 2:07 guy," he said. "I'm a 2:17 guy. I was a little bit fearing him but I tried to stay with him."
And Kamindo did, through a pedestrian half-marathon of 1:10:29. It was just Kamindo, Kimayo, Russian Sergey Nochevny and Chris Chattin, who was running his leg of the four-member relay.
"The first half was easy," Kimayo said.
A mile later, passing the ESPN Zone at the Inner Harbor, Nochevny dropped from the pack. They passed the 19-mile marker, where volunteers wore jerseys bearing that number to memorialize John Unitas.
Kamindo hung on until Kimayo pushed a 5:17 uphill 21st mile and a 5:02 downhill 22nd mile. Quickly, Kamindo trailed by 15 seconds. "I could see he was moving so I started running for second place," Kamindo said. Two miles later, it was a 35-second gap.
Kimayo, dressed in Fila's stylish orange and black colors, closed with miles of 4:58, 4:55, 5:08 and 5:00, crashing the tape outside Camden Yards in 2:17:44. Last year's winning time was 2:19:44. Kamindo finished in 2:19:58 and Nochevny ended in 2:30:19.
Twenty minutes later, Kolpakova barreled home in 2:50:01, her third marathon this year, in addition to the ultramarathons she specializes in.
Kolpakova, who ran 2:47 and 2:43 in back-to-back weekends at Cleveland and Pittsburgh, respectively, in late April, seized the lead from local favorite Lee Dipietro of Ruxton, Md., after four miles.
By 17 miles, the 30-year-old Russian was out of Dipietro's sight and the 47-year-old Dipietro was firmly in second. "From 17 on, I was solo," said Dipietro, who is training to qualify for the women's U.S. Olympic marathon trials in 2004. "I was in no-man's land."
She hung on for second in 2:53:23, while Amy Pyles of Hummelstown, Pa., was third in 2:57:17.

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