Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

28
The Games of the XXV Olympiad: Barcelona, 1992

Shortly before the start of the 1992 women's Olympic Marathon, the medical director of the race took the road temperature on the course--113°F That fact alone explains why this was the slowest women's Olympic race yet run. It would take a time of only 2:32:41 to win the gold.

Over fifty years earlier, on the night of January 24, 1939, the women of Barcelona had fled the encroaching forces of General Franco and escaped on the coastal road out of the city. Now, another group of women would travel that road, this time in peace, travelling into the city instead of away from it.

Unlike in 1988, there was no clear-cut favorite in the 1992 race. Rosa Mota had dropped out of the field a week before the Games complaining of stomach pains. Leading the pack of contenders was Lisa Martin Ondieki of Australia. As Lisa Martin, she had placed seventh in the Los Angeles Olympics and then taken the silver medal in Seoul. Since that time, she had married Yobes Ondieki, a Kenyan who served as her coach. The month before the Olympics, Ondieki had lowered her personal best in the 10,000 meters by a full minute. In the marathon, her personal best was three minutes faster than anyone else in the Barcelona field.

Also returning from the 1988 Games was Katrin Dörre, now of Germany rather than East Germany. The U.S. hopes were led by Francie Larrieu- Smith, whose Olympic career dated all the way back to 1972 when she ran in the 1,500 meters. In 1976 she ran the race again, and she qualified for the U.S. team in 1980, but stayed home because of the boycott. In 1988 she had

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