Sunday, October 09, 2016

Dominic "The Terminator" Ondoro Beats the Field and Phil Coppess' 31 Year Old Course Record

Dominic Ondoro broke through the finish tape as the clock above him read 2:08:50 and kept on running through the finish chute as if he were going to keep going for another 26 miles.  In a comedic touch for a historic occasion several race officials ran after him to get him to appear in the media tent
for interviews and the USADA drug testing squad that was there to collect the athletes chosen to be drug tested.

When he was finally wrangled to the tent and sat down, the effort finally showed.  He stared down at his feet and attempted to absorb what he had just accomplished.  He was given a bottle of water.  he drank some and washed his hands.  The Terminator had just done what no other runner could do in the past 31 years.  He ran faster than Iowa's Phil Coppess's 1985 course record, which was done on a similar day.

Cool temperatures and bright sunlight greeted the runners as they took off from downtown Minneapolis.  Ondoro and his countryman/training partner Elisha Barno had spent the last few months preparing to do what they had missed by a little over a minute the year before.  The plan was to run around 4:55 a mile, which would have them at the finish in 2:08:54, plenty of cushion if something went wrong.

Ondoro already had practise in breaking the "unbreakable." Taking down records that others could not. Two years ago he broke Dick Beardsley's 33 year old Grandma's Marathon course record by 31 seconds in 2:09:06.  Last year Ondoro tried for a double going after Phil Coppess' Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon's then 30 year-old course record of  2:10:05. He missed that mark by one minute and 11 seconds with Barno right behind him in 2:11:39.

Dominic Ondoro breaks the tape to set a new course record
© Competitive Image, Inc.
This year he was taking no chances.  He and Barno, who had finished one, two in Grandma's in June prepped not only to repeat that feat at Twin Cities but also to increase the chance that one of them would also take down Coppess' record as well as take home the $25,000 course record bonus that was on offer for the first person to break it,

An early obstacle they faced was the cold temperatures at the start.  Barno said it took him awhile to begin to get feeling in his legs.  While the duo had settled on attempting to run each mile around four minutes and 55 seconds, the first half of the race was slightly slower than a 4:55 average.  They ripped through 13.1 miles in 1:05:02, which would have still broken the record if they kept up that pace for another half marathon, but the margin was razor thin and the second half of the course more suited for mountain goats than runners.

The Twin Cities course is not known for giving up "negative splits," when the leaders are able to run faster in the second half of the race as the first.  Not wanting to miss the chance again, Ondoro cranked up the pace and by mile 21 had dropped Barno.  Barno said his legs left him at that point as they began to climb the upgrades from along East Mississippi Blvd. to Summit Ave. By 21 miles, Ondoro had opened a five second gap that increased as the race went on.

Ondoro ran the last 13.1 miles in 1:03:49, 2:07:40 pace on the toughest parts of the course.  And his effort gave the TC Marathon folks something to talk about, which they did as the race announcer noted that this year the finish time for the men in St. Paul was faster than that of 2012 Olympic silver medallist in the marathon Abel Kirui had run this morning in the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

When was the last time that happened?  1992.  That year Kenya's David Mungai won in 2:15:33 in the Twin Cities, while Brazil's Jose Cesar de Sousa triumphed in the Windy City in 2:16:14.

Men's Results HERE.