September 15, 2002: 

Sylvania, Ohio, Sept. 14-15, 2002

John Geesler of St. Johnsville, New York made history today, becoming the first American man to win the  USA 24-Hour Run Championship three times at the Olander Park 24-Hour in Sylvania, Ohio with 137.52 miles. Geesler outlasted a pair of brothers, Mark and Steve Godale, who took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Ann Heaslett of Madison, Wisconsin took her second national crown of the year, following her trail 50 mile national title in July with the women's win here in her first attempt beyond 100 miles. Heaslett, compiling 128.55 miles, bested Sandy Powell, silver medalist, and 7-time defending national champion Sue Ellen Trapp.

Conditions were difficult for the runners, as Saturday daytime temperatures in the mid-80's with oppressive humidity gave way to a night of sporadic showers and thunderstorms. Many of the pre-race favorites faltered in the physiologically taxing conditions.

Oblivious to all the Americans (the starting field of 167 was the largest ever for a 24-hour race) was special guest Yiannis Kouros of Athens, Greece. Kouros, virtually unchallenged as the world's best all-day ultrarunner for almost 20 years, ran alone immediately from the start, never stopping, never walking, never faltering from a relentless, metronomic pace. He constantly pulled away from the field, amassing a final total of 172.37 miles, bettering his own U.S. all-comers record (set in this event three years ago) by nearly 5 miles.

In the USA Masters championship division, a noteworthy performance was turned in by Ray Piva, age 75, of California. Piva set age-group world records of 23:01:56 for 100 miles and 105.02 miles for 24 hours.

-Dan Brannen
American Ultrarunning Association

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