Kempainen '88 runs 2nd in NY marathon

by By Katie Shutzer With Siobhan Gorman | 11/15/93 6:00am

NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 14 -- This morning, Bob Kempainen '88 strode in, after running 138,435 feet for the past two hours, to finish second in the New York City Marathon. Agony etched his face.

The drained but not completely exhausted Kempainen is the best American finisher in the race since 1989.

Eight miles from the finish line, during the hot and muggy day here, Kempainen was not even among the top five runners.

Slowly, Kempainen moved closer to the lead. He remained in fourth place through the 20th mile.

With less than four miles to go, Kempainen pulled up behind the leader. By the time he reached the next mile, Kempainen led the 6,999 other runners.

In the end Andres Espinosa of Mexico pushed to the lead and won with a time of 2:10:04. Kempainen came in 58 seconds later.

"Around 21 miles or so, Andres and I were running together, and I thought maybe I had a crack," Kempainen said after taking his mandatory drug test. "For me, it was a matter of running the last 10K as hard as I could."

A calm and relaxed Kempainen said he succeeded in keeping an even pace throughout the race.

"I felt most comfortable through the first 18 miles, then I had to concentrate," he said.

Kempainen's training started six weeks before the race, when he took a hiatus from his studies at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

He trained in California with his former Dartmouth cross-country coach, Vin Lananna, who now coaches at Stanford University.

This was Kempainen's fourth marathon.

He "worked on increasing mileage volume and intensity for this race," Lananna said yesterday in a telephone interview from Palo Alto, Calif.

Lananna said he thought Kempainen gave it his best run. "He ran over a minute personal best ... I think his performance was outstanding," Lananna said. "I'm sure he accomplished his objectives as well as he could have."

In a telephone interview to Minnetonka, Minn. last night, Kempainen's father, Ralph, said he was extremely impressed with his son's performance.

"I'm excited, I'll tell you. He worked hard for it and deserved it," Ralph Kempainen said. "I'm really happy for him."

Kempainen's running career began in junior high school when he was about 13 years old. It extended through his high school years, when he was ranked second in his home state of Minnesota.

At Dartmouth, Kempainen won five All-American honors, finished fourth in the NCAA Championships his junior year and finished 11th his senior year. The cross country team finished second both years.

"I ran well developmentally my freshman year, but I jumped to a national level during sophomore year," Kempainen said.

He gave credit to his coach and the camaraderie of his "great team."

Kempainen said one of his cross country friends from Dartmouth was there to congratulate him today as he crossed the finish line.

After winning the National Cross Country Championships in 1990, Kempainen competed on the 1992 Olympic team.

Lananna said Kempainen is "hardworking, determined and bright. He knows his own physical limitations as well as his own physical attributes and maximizes them."

"He was a many time All-American and NCAA success, so he had a great deal of potential," Lananna said. "We tried to make his collegiate career as such to make [running] a life long option for him."

Kempainen could not attend the awards ceremony because he needed to get back to school for an 8 a.m. neurology meeting tomorrow.

Reporter Siobhan Gorman in Hanover contributed to the story.

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