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Spangler Sparkles, 1996 Columbia, SC

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With a U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon record $250,000 prize purse and U.S. Olympic team spots on the line, Jenny Spangler, 32, who came to the Trials with just the 61st-fastest qualifying time, surprised the field and herself with a stunning victory in 2:29:54, nearly a three-minute personal record and just 4 seconds from the Trials record, over a challenging course.

With the fastest U.S. Junior marathon time (2:33:52 from 1983), Spangler, from Gurnee, IL, showed promise, but injuries and disappointments prevented her from reaching her potential until that wonderful day in Columbia when everything came together for her.

Two-time USA Marathon champion Linda Somers also ran well to finish as runner up in 2:30:06, also a PR. Anne Marie Lauck placed third (2:31:18) to earn the final U.S. Olympic marathon team berth for the Atlanta Games. At the Olympic Marathon, Lauck finished 10th in 2:31:30 as top American.

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