Finish lines: Faces of the Little Rock Marathon

Published 7 March 2017

JOE ALLBRITTON, 44

Mayflower, 4:05:32

Allbritton doesn’t look like a marathoner, with his bushy reddish-brown beard and Mardi Gras beads adorned around his neck, but was full of joy after completing his second tour around the Little Rock course. “I just do it for heck,” said Allbritton, an assistant principal at Bryant High School after 18 years at Mayflower. Allbritton, two years removed from coaching Mayflower to the Class AAA state baseball championship, was willing to show off a tattoo inked on his upper left arm honoring that championship season that occurred in the aftermath of an EF4 tornado that devastated Mayflower and Vilonia in the spring of 2014.

HENRI COEME, 64, AND

MILES COEME, 5

Neosho, Mo., 3:26:29.57

Henri Coeme crossed the finish with his running buddy, Miles, a 5-year-old Australian Shepherd, at his side. Henri was clocked .01 ahead of Miles, but Henri says it is Miles, a service dog who keeps Henri in touch with his surroundings and on the road despite his loss of hearing. “When he hears the national anthem, he starts barking because he knows the race is going to start. … He drags me out of the way of trouble if I don’t hear it coming.”

ERIN CHAN DING, 35

South Barrington, Ill., 4:00:02

Ding has chosen to couple her marathons with visits to historical civil rights sites around the nation with her father. Sunday’s race, which carried the runners past Little Rock Central High School in the 11th mile, was especially inspirational. “We had just visited yesterday and kind of immersed ourselves in the details,” said Ding, a freelance journalist. “To see an interracial band playing as we ran by was inspirational. It almost brought me to tears. During the race, I had to remind myself that this may be hard, but it was only a fraction as difficult of what the Little Rock 9 went through. They gave me some courage.” It was Ding’s 13th marathon, but her first that included hills. “For the hills, it’s a PR [personal record],” she said. “In Chicago, we don’t have any hills except for skyscrapers, so my quads are really burning. But it’s great.”

RYAN ENDRES, 24

St. Charles, Mo., 3:19:23

Endres said he was thoroughly impressed with his first attempt at the Little Rock Marathon. “Even with the rain, there [were] volunteers everywhere and so many fans … an amazing race,” he said. “When it’s rainy and 50 degrees out, yeah that’s unusual. It really was spectacular.”

MARIA FLETCHER, 48

Pompano Beach, Fla.,

4:15:06

Fletcher cried shortly after crossing the finish line. But she said they were good tears. “I was trying for a 4:15 and I did a 4:15:06,” said Fletcher, who is originally from England. “In Florida, it’s been 80 degrees and it’s super-flat. So those hills are tough and that last 6 miles with a headwind was tough, but I really enjoyed it. I don’t usually cry, but it was tough and I got a good time.”

JUAN GONZALEZ, 30

Bentonville, 3:33:56

With a large contingent of friends and family cheering him on, Gonzalez posted a solid time in his first marathon, good enough for 20th in his age group. “My goal was 3:30, but maybe next year,” he said. “Bentonville has a half-marathon that I’ve raced four years in a row. I was just ready to step it up and do a full marathon.”

MICHAEL HIPOLITO, 34,

San Francisco, 4:05:32

Hipolito, a psychiatrist and member of the 50 States Marathon club, has 28 marathons to go after completing his 22nd marathon in his 22nd state. The cool, damp conditions suited Hipolito, who enjoyed visiting the Clinton Presidential Center during his stay in central Arkansas. “It’s just like home.”

ROBERT KALESCKY, 34

Dallas, 3:00:00

A former distance runner at Texas Tech who is now an applications scientist at SMU, Kalescky said even though he finished 10th overall, he viewed Sunday’s race as a fun run. “I’m coming off a long season, so I just looking to have fun,” he said. “I was just happy for it to be cool.”

ANGELA KASTEN, 30

Lapeer, Mich., 3:39:10

Kasten, a veteran of four Boston Marathons, was particularly fond of the hilly terrain on the Little Rock course. “I do well on hills,” said Kasten, who operates tractors, mends fences and breaks untrained horses in her job as a farm manager of driving horses near Flint, Mich. Kasten said the Little Rock Marathon rivals the ultra hilly Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati as her favorite. “They are right up my alley,” she said.

LISA KELLER, 43

Chicago, 3:50:14

With a career goal of clocking a sub-4 hour marathon in every state, Keller’s trip to Arkansas — No. 13 on her list — resulted in an accomplished mission. But she had to increase her pace over the final 5 miles — a pace of 8:42 per mile, up from 8:47 over the first half of the race — to achieve the goal. Plus, the weather was not helpful over the final portion of the race. “I had a headwind the last 6 miles,” she said. “Wind is my ultimate nemesis.” But she did receive an assist from fans on the race course. “I received my first mimosa on a marathon course,” she said. “That’s actually never happened before.”

RALPH PETERSON, 45

Mount Vernon, N.Y.,

4:13:11

The huge and gaudy medal handed out to all the finishers of the Little Rock Marathon was all Peterson needed to see to enter the event. “Look at this thing. Are you kidding me? This is the greatest thing in the whole world,” he said. “Everyone is against finisher medals. They haven’t run a marathon yet. They have no idea what it means to get a finisher medal.” Peterson, who owns a management consultant company, has a goal of finishing a marathon in each state. Sunday’s event was the halfway mark — his 25th state, a total of 30 marathons, all since 2013. “I woke up fat one day and started walking until I could run a little bit. I then entered a 5K, then entered a 10K, half-marathon, Then I got my first medal and I said, ‘I’m in.’ ”

AMANDA POTTS, 38

Conway, 3:30:30

Potts’ time was good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, in which she has competed twice. “It was a challenging course, but fun,” she said of Sunday’s event. “No slips, just lots of people and lots of fast people. The rain kept the heat away. It was a nice cool mist.”

JARROD QUINLIVAN, 34

Clayton, N.C.,

3:05:37

Quinlivan, an RN, completed his 23rd marathon, but did not get closer to his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in all 50 states. He came up less than 40 seconds short Sunday, but said he would likely be back in Arkansas in December to tackle the 3 Bridges Marathon. By then, he’ll be 35 and his qualifying time for Boston drops to 3:10:00. “I knew it was going to be close,” he said. “I will be back.”

BRIAN ROSER, 29

Chino, Calif.,

3:04:34

Roser appeared to struggle as he crossed the finish line, but actually he said he relished his race. “I’m just a little tired,” he said. “It was a very enjoyable race. But I also ran the 10K yesterday, so I’m beat.”

CHAD SILKER, 37

Ballwin, Mo., 2:49:28

Silker, the second runner to cross, was overcome with emotion and held an extended embrace with co-race director Geneva Hampton just past the finish line. Silker ran the race several days after attending the funeral of his close friend, U.S. National Guard Maj. Brian Murray, 37, who died of a blood disorder. Silker finished less than four minutes behind winner Adam Bradbury, and said he thought for a moment, when he took lead at the 12-mile mark, he might have a chance to win for his friend, but soon realized it was not going to happen when Bradbury came speeding by. “Life’s not like a movie script,” said Silker, a Notre Dame University graduate who is a St. Louis-area attorney. “Every movie’s not going to end like Rudy.”

JANA SISSON, 52

Vilonia, 3:41:13

With an assist from the cool, wet conditions, Sisson reached her goal for the day. “It was a good day for racing,” she said. “I wanted to be in the 3:40s, and I was 3:41 and some change, so that wasn’t bad.” Her time secured her a spot in the Boston Marathon. “It’s doubtful that I will be going to Boston, but it feels good to know you can,” she said.

LYNN THOMPSON, 56

Natural Dam, 3:37:20

Running in a traditional Scottish kilt, Thompson qualified for the Boston Marathon in hist first career marathon. He hopes to parlay that into a trip to visit his daughter, who lives in Boston. “You always feel like you could train more,” he said. “I’m a runner, but I’d never tried a marathon. I’m a 10K guy. I had a little cramping at Mile 25, but I still made it in.”

BECCA WADE, 31

Germantown, Tenn., 3:58:42

Wade pointed to her 2-year-old son Hampton as the source of her inspiration for running and tried to explain why more women entered and finished the 15th Little Rock Marathon than men. Wade says running provides her a healthy mix. “I run for the challenge.” Wade was pregnant with Hampton the last time she ran Little Rock, in the weather-marred 2015 running. Unlike many runners, who aspire to qualify for the Boston Marathon, Wade has her sights set on New York, where she has lost out on the lottery four consecutive years. “I’ll keep running until I get there.”