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Sunday, March 11, 2001 -- Abingdon, VA
Virginia Creeper Marathon (iPO Event Id#: 2441)
Story and photos by George Gannon

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Virginia Creeper Marathon Web Site]

Race Pic
A beautiful day on a beautiful trail
When Phidippides ran the first ever marathon, he dropped dead the second he relayed the news of a Greek victory over Persia. He ran to Athens Greece. The man who came in first in the Virginia Creeper Marathon is from Athens, Tennessee. Coincidence - I think not.

The 2001 edition of the marathon was, at the very least, more runner-friendly. Although an icy breeze whistled through the mountains from time to time, it was nothing like the frigid conditions that marked last year's race. According to one race director, frostbite warnings had to be issued to the runners.

Not this year, a cloudless sky and full sun looked down on the runners as they all tried to tackle a scenic, but challenging, course.

The first leg of the course is on a main road, after that, the runners are sent into the Virginia Creeper Trail - which was a former railroad line, and ideal for a race. The course is a mainly flat trail that twists and turns through the southwest Virginia countryside. The trail is dotted with bridges, and plenty of eye-opening views.

Race Pic
What more could you ask for?
However, opening the most eyes of the day was Robert Preston. With a winning time of 2:48:06, the 37 year-old Athens, Tennessee native managed to fight through a nagging back ache to take the top honors at this year's race. According to Preston, he was with the pack until the 17-mile mark, then he started to break away. After the race, he called the course "deceptive," saying that it was more difficult than it appeared, but that it was a "beautiful run." Showing only a few signs of fatigue, Preston said, "just finishing is great."

Following Preston across the finish line was the "local hot shot,"1 Terry Ketron (2:55:44). Ketron, running his first Creeper Marathon, said that it was a tough, "but very scenic and very enjoyable."

Grabbing the number three spot, and completing his 32nd marathon, was Dunwoody, Georgia resident Joe Bowman (3:08:22).

For the ladies, Amy Nieters (3:28:48) claimed top honors. Trailing behind Nancy Ferris for most of the race, Nieters put on the jets at the 24th mile marker and never looked back. Nieters was nonchalant about her victory. "I just wanted to have a good, long Sunday morning run."

Ferris (3:30:55) took the number two spot, saying the race was "wonderful." Grabbing the number three spot was Susan Dome (3:33:28). Dome came all the way from Lafayette, Indiana to run the course.

Although the racers were exhausted after the journey (any look at the salt stains lining their faces was proof enough), they all had a fine time and were ready for a nice, long rest... before their next 26+ mile run!


1 Editor's Note: Race director Frank Kibler had this to say after reviewing our article... "Terry Ketron may grimace at the 'local hot shot' reference, made by me in George's presence, since I believe he's fighting a new injury, and that time he ran Sunday is pretty pedestrian by his usual standards ... in fact, probably a "personal worst" for him ... I mean, this guy's won the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, near Chattanooga, twice!"