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Boston Marathon Course section

Also-rans just happy to make it to the end

By Christopher Szechenyi, Boston.Com Staff 4/17/00

BOSTON -- The cameras might not have been trained on them, and chances are good that their names will never be household words in the running world.

But the nameless thousands who ran the Boston Marathon today -- and continued to stream over the finish line hours after the winners -- felt like winners anyway.

Despite a grueling course, the wind in their faces, dehydration, and exhaustion, they had made it to the end.

"It was nice, great conditions," said Andrew Schwartz of Hackensack, N.J. "We got behind some bigger people and they cut the wind for us."

He finished the race with a time of 3:10.49, a personal best. That's not bad, said Schwartz, for a man who was 50 pounds overweight just four years ago.

Will Henderson of Houston, Texas, said he actually enjoyed today's cool and windy weather. "The weather was really nice, no problems at all," he said. "They scared us to death with the forecast."

Jeff Skrenpny of Chicago crossed the finish line bloody and tired. "I got tripped at mile 23," he said. "I fell down and couldn't get up. Someone had to pick me up."

Even so, Skrenpny said he finished at 3:10.29, just 18 seconds off his personal best.

Lars Leader of Valdosta, Georgia, had a similar experience and came limping across the finish line with a bloody face and a bloody hand. He said he got tripped at mile 14, but still managed to finish the race at 3:19.42.

"I thought for a while I wasn't going to finish," said an almost tearful Lauren Hafner, 24, of Washington, D.C. "I felt like I was having an asthma attack. I just continued. When I saw my friends, I knew I would make it.

"I wasn't as prepared as I would have liked," Hafner said. "I'm just glad I finished."

Julie McNulty of Milton said she was "in amazement right now." After training for three months with a partner, Ken Abrahamsen, she was ready for today's Marathon, her first.

"I never thought I'd ever finish," she said.

Abrahamsen said he was "ecstatic" with his friend's performance. "I carried her the first 24 miles, and she brought me through the last two."

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