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It's not a late show as they make top 10 list

DeHaven's sixth raises US spirits

By John Vellante, Globe Staff, 4/17/2001

he consensus was that the contingent of American men entered in yesterday's Boston Marathon finally had enough depth to land someone in the top 10 for the first time since Bob Kempainen finished seventh in 1994.

Rod DeHaven did Kempainen one better with his sixth-place finish, well behind winner Lee Bong Ju but well ahead of defending champion Elijah Lagat and two-time Boston winner Moses Tanui.

DeHaven, of Madison, Wis., clocked a personal-best 2 hours 12 minutes 41 seconds that raised a few eyebrows and some hopes that someday soon an American can win Boston again. The dry spell dates back to Greg Meyer in 1983.

Also cracking the top 20 were Josh Cox (14th, 2:16:17) of El Cajon, Calif., and Mark Coogan (19th, 2:18:58) of Attleboro. Cox even teased victory-starved US fans by leading for several fleeting moments as he passed by Wellesley College.

All in all, it was a banner day for Americans in general and DeHaven in particular.

''Of course I'm happy with sixth,'' said DeHaven, who was the only US representative in the men's marathon at the Sydney Olympics. ''I mean, come on, I was five seconds ahead of [Fatuma] Roba the last time I was here [1999]. I'm just so happy they invited me back. To get a personal record as well has me pretty well beyond ecstatic.

''With the headwinds, I was able to stay up there a long time, but kind of fell out at the second Newton hill. Fortunately, though, I was able to gain on people that fell out of the lead pack as we came out of Heartbreak and then down on Commonwealth and through Cleveland Circle. It just worked out well.''

DeHaven, 34, who matched Mark Plaatjes for the best US finish here since 1993, eased up on every downhill.

''I was consciously slowing down to try and save my quads,'' he said. ''I was just lucky that the pack slowed down again and kind of let me get back in it. It would have been a long way to run in totally alone, so luck played into my race.''

DeHaven always had the leaders in sight. He was 15th at the 5-kilometer mark, 12th at 10K, 10th at 15K, ninth at the halfway mark, 12th at 30K, 10th at 35K, and seventh at 40K, before sprinting home to pass Laban Nkete (2:12:44) for sixth.

Cox, 25, the youngest runner at the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials in Pittsburgh, looked fresh when he overtook Lee and Kenya's Joshua Chelang'a to grab the lead at Wellesley College, but things went downhill from there. Four miles down the road in Newton, he had dropped far back.

''I felt really comfortable at halfway, but at about 14 miles, I started to get a really bad side stitch,'' said Cox. ''It felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife underneath my ribs and I was trying to get it to loosen up. It was fine on the uphills, but on the downhills when we picked up the pace, I could really feel it.

''It was very frustrating for me because I felt really good and I was very disappointed that I was falling off the pack. This race was not indicative of my fitness. I was trying to be aggressive and I had my game plan, but I had some problems and that's the way it goes.

''It was a good experience for me going through Wellesley, but I wasn't here to lead at 12 miles. I was here to place well at the end.''

Coogan turned in a 1:05:36 half and was right up there with the leaders before falling back.

''I was doing a little bit like what [DeHaven] was doing,'' he said. ''The pace was under control because of the headwind and it wasn't hot. It was pretty much fun through 10 miles. There wasn't too much surging. Things seemed pretty much even until Wellesley when some runners missed their water stops.

''That's when I decided to run behind Tanui until he decided to go back to the pack and dropped me. Once I got dropped, it was too hard for me, I'm just not good enough to get back up there. By the time I got to Cleveland Circle, my legs were pretty much dead and I couldn't really do too much.''

This story ran on page G03 of the Boston Globe on 4/17/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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