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ITALIAN OUTLASTS MARATHON FIELD - New York Times


ITALIAN OUTLASTS MARATHON FIELD

Published: October 29, 1984
By MALCOLM MORAN

Overcoming the most difficult conditions in any of the 15 New York City Marathons, little-known Orlando Pizzolato of Italy ran to victory yesterday after pain in his stomach and legs forced him to stop eight times.

Pizzolato, a 26-year-old physical- education student from Piovene, held off a late challenge by Britain's David Murphy and finished in 2 hours 14 minutes 53 seconds. Pizzolato and Grete Waitz of Norway, who finished in 2:29:30 to become the women's champion for the sixth time, each won $25,000 plus a Mercedes Benz automobile valued at $22,000, the first publicly disclosed prizes in the marathon's history.

The starters among the 18,365 entrants were challenged by temperatures that reached the mid-70's and humidity reported as high as 90 percent, according to the National Weather Service.

Those conditions, stifling for world- class athletes, appeared to contribute to the first death in the history of the race. Jacques Bussereau of Perigueux, France, one of approximately 600 runners who had flown here late last week, collapsed just before the Queensboro Bridge, near the 14-mile mark.

Bussereau, whose entry listed his age as 48 and said he had completed a marathon in 4:04:03, died in the emergency room at City Hospital Center in Elmhurst, Queens, according to Sgt. Peter Ruane, a spokesman for the police department.

Pizzolato, ignoring the need for a more realistic pace considering the conditions, raced to the lead in the 13th mile and stayed there. ''I'm not the famous runner,'' Pizzolato said. ''I don't believe that I won the marathon.''

But if his victory was improbable, there were moments early in the race when Mrs. Waitz's chances of reaching the finish line seemed impossible. Her use of fluids to protect herself during the 26- mile-385-yard journey, witnessed by a curbside crowd estimated at more than 2 million, may have helped create the diarrhea that forced her to consider dropping out in the early miles.

The same conditions forced Pizzolato, who had run as fast as 2:14:42 at Rome last year, to stop again and again, hold his stomach, pour water over his head and repeatedly look back over his shoulder as Murphy made his charge late in the race.

Pizzolato's lead dwindled to 12 seconds at the 24-mile mark, and seemed sure to disappear. But he finished 43 seconds ahead of Murphy, becoming the second foreign man to win the race, and after he had finished his unlikely trip from Staten Island to Central Park, he dropped to his knees and kissed the pavement, just as Rod Dixon of New Zealand did last year. Dixon was forced out of the race at the 21-mile mark yesterday because of cramps.

No Other Victory

''What was your most important victory before today?'' Pizzolato was asked.

''There wasn't,'' he said.

He finished 27th here last year, and under the prize structure announced for the first time this year - after years of undisclosed payments - he would not have won anything. Prizes ranging from $25,000 to $1,000, officially called participation funds, were awarded to the top 25 men and 20 women.

But the prize money was not the difference for Mrs. Waitz. ''What kept me going was the competition,'' she said. ''The money is no motivation.''

The winner seemed as surprised as anyone. ''I began to run fast after 10 miles,'' Pizzolato said, ''but I didn't think to run for win. Maybe, I don't know, fifteenth? Twentieth? Maybe.''

Murphy and Veronique Marot, who left France to become a British citizen, each won a second-place prize of $22,000. Herbert Steffny of West Germany and Laura Fogli of Italy each took third place and won $18,000. Miss Marot finished 4 minutes 28 seconds behind Mrs. Waitz, who took control of the women's race before she had cleared the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, where the race begins.

The New York Road Runners Club, the race's organizers, said that computer problems prevented them from tabulating yesterday the number of starters and finishers. The elite field was diluted because many top marathoners had either pointed toward the Olympic competition in Los Angeles or else been lured away by last week's marathon in Chicago,

Andersen-Schiess Is 11th

Gabriele Andersen-Schiess of Sun Valley, Idaho, who became a symbol of the struggle against heat and fatigue after her finish in the marathon at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, finished 11th among the women with a time of 2:42:24. She was disappointed with her time, but encouraged by a finish that held none of the difficulty of the first Olympic marathon for women. ''In the last few miles, I didn't push,'' she said. ''I was just careful.''

Murphy was also being careful. Two years ago, he entered Central Park in second place and finished fifth. He was determined to maintain a pace that felt comfortable in the heat, no matter what anyone else did.

Dixon, the defending champion, tried the same approach, unsuccessfully. He fell 1 minute 14 seconds behind the leader when Pizzolato was crossing the Queensboro Bridge, and eventually advanced to fourth place, by a step, and cut the lead to 1:04. Dixon had overcome cramps last year to catch and pass Geoff Smith at the race's finish. Today, though, he could not continue.

By the 19-mile mark, as he headed up First Avenue toward the Bronx, Murphy had passed Pat Petersen of Ronkonkoma, L.I., who eventually finished fourth in 2:16:35. Murphy did not know who was leading. ''After he went out so hard like that,'' Murphy said, ''it didn't matter who it was. It was a guy ahead of you that you had to catch.''

Spurred by the spectators who lined the streets and cheered, Murphy pushed ahead. He said he did not see Pizzolato stop as they headed down Fifth Avenue, but he heard voices yelling the margin in seconds as the lead disappeared. When the leader was in sight, Murphy said, problems began to develop. ''It's funny,'' Murphy said. ''Looking at his back was not helping me.''

Murphy began to labor more until he decided to just look down at his feet. ''I said, 'You're just out on a training run. Relax,' '' he remembered. ''And I moved faster.''

The lead was down to 12 seconds at the 24-mile mark, and Murphy said there was a time when voices told him the margin had shrunk to 10. Pizzolato, despite the screaming siren of a police escort, was just another struggling commuter, stopping and starting again.

''I was sure to finish,'' Pizzolato said, ''but I was very tired.''

Ten days ago, Murphy said, his training had been interrupted by a virus, and that may have made the difference. At 25 miles, Pizzolato had regained a rhythm and Murphy's surge had slowed. ''I was running out of gas, too,'' he said.

The Finishes Continue

The race was over, but the finishes were just beginning. The finish line was busy for hours, with runners moving underneath the balloons that had stuck in the trees. The runners held hands, limped, walked, and waved. They held arms around each other's shoulders. They were bopping, straining, shrieking, lumbering, cruising, skipping, and crying. They punched fists in the air in time to the thump-thump-thump of the music on the public address system.

And when the white letters on the red background - FINISH - were within sight, most of them were smiling.

Some clasped hands over their heads, just as a champion would. Some ran to within a few yards of the finish, produced a small camera, and - click - finished their work. One woman carried a small child to the end. When the digital clocks ticked toward 4 hours, or 5, dozens of runners sprinted the last yards.

''It's a painfully beautiful way of seeing New York City,'' said Mayor Ray Flynn of Boston, who finished in 3:59:46 in his first New York race. ''I've got to call my wife, and tell her I'm safe.''

Overcoming the most difficult conditions in any of the 15 New York City Marathons, little-known Orlando Pizzolato of Italy ran to victory yesterday after pain in his stomach and legs forced him to stop eight times.

Pizzolato, a 26-year-old physical- education student from Piovene, held off a late challenge by Britain's David Murphy and finished in 2 hours 14 minutes 53 seconds. Pizzolato and Grete Waitz of Norway, who finished in 2:29:30 to become the women's champion for the sixth time, each won $25,000 plus a Mercedes Benz automobile valued at $22,000, the first publicly disclosed prizes in the marathon's history.

The starters among the 18,365 entrants were challenged by temperatures that reached the mid-70's and humidity reported as high as 90 percent, according to the National Weather Service.

Those conditions, stifling for world- class athletes, appeared to contribute to the first death in the history of the race. Jacques Bussereau of Perigueux, France, one of approximately 600 runners who had flown here late last week, collapsed just before the Queensboro Bridge, near the 14-mile mark.

Bussereau, whose entry listed his age as 48 and said he had completed a marathon in 4:04:03, died in the emergency room at City Hospital Center in Elmhurst, Queens, according to Sgt. Peter Ruane, a spokesman for the police department.

Pizzolato, ignoring the need for a more realistic pace considering the conditions, raced to the lead in the 13th mile and stayed there. ''I'm not the famous runner,'' Pizzolato said. ''I don't believe that I won the marathon.''

But if his victory was improbable, there were moments early in the race when Mrs. Waitz's chances of reaching the finish line seemed impossible. Her use of fluids to protect herself during the 26- mile-385-yard journey, witnessed by a curbside crowd estimated at more than 2 million, may have helped create the diarrhea that forced her to consider dropping out in the early miles.

The same conditions forced Pizzolato, who had run as fast as 2:14:42 at Rome last year, to stop again and again, hold his stomach, pour water over his head and repeatedly look back over his shoulder as Murphy made his charge late in the race.

Pizzolato's lead dwindled to 12 seconds at the 24-mile mark, and seemed sure to disappear. But he finished 43 seconds ahead of Murphy, becoming the second foreign man to win the race, and after he had finished his unlikely trip from Staten Island to Central Park, he dropped to his knees and kissed the pavement, just as Rod Dixon of New Zealand did last year. Dixon was forced out of the race at the 21-mile mark yesterday because of cramps.

No Other Victory

''What was your most important victory before today?'' Pizzolato was asked.

''There wasn't,'' he said.

He finished 27th here last year, and under the prize structure announced for the first time this year - after years of undisclosed payments - he would not have won anything. Prizes ranging from $25,000 to $1,000, officially called participation funds, were awarded to the top 25 men and 20 women.

But the prize money was not the difference for Mrs. Waitz. ''What kept me going was the competition,'' she said. ''The money is no motivation.''

The winner seemed as surprised as anyone. ''I began to run fast after 10 miles,'' Pizzolato said, ''but I didn't think to run for win. Maybe, I don't know, fifteenth? Twentieth? Maybe.''

Murphy and Veronique Marot, who left France to become a British citizen, each won a second-place prize of $22,000. Herbert Steffny of West Germany and Laura Fogli of Italy each took third place and won $18,000. Miss Marot finished 4 minutes 28 seconds behind Mrs. Waitz, who took control of the women's race before she had cleared the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, where the race begins.

The New York Road Runners Club, the race's organizers, said that computer problems prevented them from tabulating yesterday the number of starters and finishers. The elite field was diluted because many top marathoners had either pointed toward the Olympic competition in Los Angeles or else been lured away by last week's marathon in Chicago,

Andersen-Schiess Is 11th

Gabriele Andersen-Schiess of Sun Valley, Idaho, who became a symbol of the struggle against heat and fatigue after her finish in the marathon at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, finished 11th among the women with a time of 2:42:24. She was disappointed with her time, but encouraged by a finish that held none of the difficulty of the first Olympic marathon for women. ''In the last few miles, I didn't push,'' she said. ''I was just careful.''

Murphy was also being careful. Two years ago, he entered Central Park in second place and finished fifth. He was determined to maintain a pace that felt comfortable in the heat, no matter what anyone else did.

Dixon, the defending champion, tried the same approach, unsuccessfully. He fell 1 minute 14 seconds behind the leader when Pizzolato was crossing the Queensboro Bridge, and eventually advanced to fourth place, by a step, and cut the lead to 1:04. Dixon had overcome cramps last year to catch and pass Geoff Smith at the race's finish. Today, though, he could not continue.

By the 19-mile mark, as he headed up First Avenue toward the Bronx, Murphy had passed Pat Petersen of Ronkonkoma, L.I., who eventually finished fourth in 2:16:35. Murphy did not know who was leading. ''After he went out so hard like that,'' Murphy said, ''it didn't matter who it was. It was a guy ahead of you that you had to catch.''

Spurred by the spectators who lined the streets and cheered, Murphy pushed ahead. He said he did not see Pizzolato stop as they headed down Fifth Avenue, but he heard voices yelling the margin in seconds as the lead disappeared. When the leader was in sight, Murphy said, problems began to develop. ''It's funny,'' Murphy said. ''Looking at his back was not helping me.''

Murphy began to labor more until he decided to just look down at his feet. ''I said, 'You're just out on a training run. Relax,' '' he remembered. ''And I moved faster.''

The lead was down to 12 seconds at the 24-mile mark, and Murphy said there was a time when voices told him the margin had shrunk to 10. Pizzolato, despite the screaming siren of a police escort, was just another struggling commuter, stopping and starting again.

''I was sure to finish,'' Pizzolato said, ''but I was very tired.''

Ten days ago, Murphy said, his training had been interrupted by a virus, and that may have made the difference. At 25 miles, Pizzolato had regained a rhythm and Murphy's surge had slowed. ''I was running out of gas, too,'' he said.

The Finishes Continue

The race was over, but the finishes were just beginning. The finish line was busy for hours, with runners moving underneath the balloons that had stuck in the trees. The runners held hands, limped, walked, and waved. They held arms around each other's shoulders. They were bopping, straining, shrieking, lumbering, cruising, skipping, and crying. They punched fists in the air in time to the thump-thump-thump of the music on the public address system.

And when the white letters on the red background - FINISH - were within sight, most of them were smiling.

Some clasped hands over their heads, just as a champion would. Some ran to within a few yards of the finish, produced a small camera, and - click - finished their work. One woman carried a small child to the end. When the digital clocks ticked toward 4 hours, or 5, dozens of runners sprinted the last yards.

''It's a painfully beautiful way of seeing New York City,'' said Mayor Ray Flynn of Boston, who finished in 3:59:46 in his first New York race. ''I've got to call my wife, and tell her I'm safe.''


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