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Gutting It Out, 1996 Charlotte, NC

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Bob Kempainen, a 1992 Olympic marathoner and doctor-to-be, brought new meaning to the term “guts” with his memorable performance at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon. Just past 21 miles, as Kempainen pulled away from Mark Coogan and Keith Brantly, the Minnesota native began to vomit. His second eruption staggered him for a moment, but he calmly wiped his chin, gathered himself and incredibly increased his lead. Despite his stomach distress, he ran the mile 23 and mile 24 miles in 4:42 and 4:33 respectively which finally broke Coogan and Brantly.

Under cool conditions on a challenging course, Kempainen, 29, the fastest U.S. marathoner at the time (2:08:47 at Boston in ’94), maintained his lead and crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 45 seconds.

Kempainen’s gutsy effort earned him another trip to the Olympics, a record guaranteed first place marathon purse ($100,000), a course record and his first marathon win in seven attempts.

With about 400 meters left, Coogan passed Brantly, the defending national champion, to claim his trip to the Atlanta Olympics and $40,000 with a 2:13:05, a personal record, while Brantly secured the final Olympic berth in 2:13:22 and took home $30,000.

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