COLEMAN PITTSER, 15
Bartlesville, Okla., 4:16:00Gallery: Little Rock Marathon Staff Photo Gallery
• Pittser wasn't automatically eligible to run Sunday because he's two months shy of turning 16, the requirement for entrance into the marathon.
But Pittser, 15, wanted to run the marathon so bad, he had his father contact marathon organizers to see if there was a way around the age requirement. There was, but it required a doctor's note assuring a clean bill of health. Pittser presented it, registered for his first marathon and at a little after 11 a.m. on Sunday crossed the finish line with a wide smile.
"I really wanted to run a marathon," Pittser said. "I love running so much."
Pittser, a ninth grader, said he got into running with a club in Oklahoma.
The marathon was a little more difficult than he anticipated, but he reached the finish line far in front of his father, Bill, who completed the race in 4:48:46.
Pittser said he plans to run more.
"I'm aiming for at the very least 10 by the age of 20," he said.
SID BUSCH, 69
Charleston, S.C., 3:48
• Sid Busch completed his 202nd marathon, and it was the 80th in which he's carried an American flag to honor United States Armed Forces.
Busch said he served 26 years in the U.S. Navy, working on submarines in Vietnam and some in the Gulf War.
He ran his first marathon in 1981 before later deciding to do them while carrying a flag.
"That's the only reason I run these is to honor the kids who didn't make it back," Busch said. "I found that a lot of Americans have forgotten these kids, they're still over there dying. I run my marathons in the honor of the fallen."
NICHOLAS HELLER, 25
Champaign, Ill., 2:54:08
• Heller arrived in central Arkansas with a group of six friends, including his girlfriend. Heller was the only one running the marathon, because he was the only one yet to meet the qualifying time for the April 18 Boston Marathon.
Heller, who needed to better 3:05 to become Boston eligible, did so with a personal-best time after posting a 3:06 at his most recent marathon, in Knoxville.
"I was hoping to break three," he said. "I didn't know with the hills, though, and there was a little bit of a wind."
His friends, already qualified for Boston, ran the less demanding 13.1-mile half marathon.
KEVIN GOLDEN, 49
• Golden wasn't sure is he would make it to downtown Little Rock a couple of months ago.
An Achilles injury in December forced Golden to take about a month off, and he figured his chances of running his first Little Rock Marathon since 2004 were gone.
Then came a 17-mile workout a few weeks ago, and he said he never felt any pain.
"Everything felt OK, so I figured I'd do it," he said.
Golden finished fourth among men ages 45-49.
"I ended up going a little bit faster than I thought," he said. "Good conditions."
ERIC SIMMONS, 43
Simmons would like to finish every marathon he runs in under four hours, but venue is more important than time.
"It's no big deal because I knock a state out," he said.
Simmons is aiming to run a marathon in all 50 states. He said Sunday's Little Rock Marathon was his 23rd, and he hopes to have all 50 done by the time he turns 50.
"It's something to strive for," said Simmons, who ran his first marathon in 2001. "A marathon is always challenging and it's just a way to see the country as well."
CLAY LANCE, 29
• Lance didn't walk away disappointed despite missing out on a personal best.
Each completed course includes its own milestone, said Lance, who thought he would never run a marathon 5 years ago.
Sunday's high point came at the 22-mile mark, when Lance said he had to alter strategy a bit and missed out on a personal best. But, Lance said, that was the farthest he's gone in any of his four marathons before having to reset his plan.
"So, that was fun," he said. "It's just a mental game. You just make it to the next step, make it to the next step."
Lance said he got into running when he wanted to improve his exercise routine. Then some friends pressured him into his first marathon, and he hasn't stopped.
"Once you get started running you want to go a little further and a little faster," he said.
RANDY VEST, 64
Vest, a veteran of six Little Rock Marathons, said he liked the changes to the race's course.
Rather than cram thousands of runners through the narrow River Market streets to start the race, runners began running south on Scott Street into North Little Rock, wide streets that allowed a more comfortable start.
"This one was better," Vest said. "There were not many turns, with this many people it was much better than having to make a left or a right. It's a long straight stretches are better for starting out."
Vest did have one complaint.
"The hills," he said with a laugh. "they're everywhere."
Vest said he was pleased with his time, despite being off his personal best of 3:27. He just wanted to break four hours.
"It got a little warm," he said. "But other than that, it was good racing."
TAMMY JONES, 52
Wagoner, Okla., 3:38:01
• Jones covered the final few yards in a dead sprint to the finish line. She said she was trying to beat her qualifying time for the Boston Marathon by 20 minutes. She did it with a few seconds to spare.
"I just qualified in November," she said. "But I got a better time today."
Qualifying time for her sex and age group is 4:00, and she beat her goal by almost two full minutes.
Jones, a first-time Little Rock competitor, entered this race for one reason:
"That big medal," she said with a smile.
NIC NORWOOD, 20
Little Rock, 3:19:31
• Norwood's race was going just fine Sunday until about two miles remained and he began to feel cramps in his legs.
"First, it started in my right calf, then it got to my left, then it was like 'oh shoot,' " he said. "But, it was like 'I made it this far, I can't stop now.' "
Norwood kept going and set a new personal best in the process.
"It was definitely satisfying," he said. "I was a little sick. Before the race I was dealing with a cold, it's all good now, though."
AMY FLYNN, 42
Flynn said she wasn't sure what to expect on her first trip to Little Rock, but said she was surprised when she turned onto Capitol Avenue to begin the stretch run and saw fans lining the streets cheering on the runners.
"I didn't expect that from a small town," she said.
Flynn, who wants to run a marathon in all 50 states, scratched her 32nd state off her list and next week she'll cross off another when she runs in North Carolina. She said she's like to complete her 50-state, 50-marathon goal by January 2018.
BRIAN SCHULTE, 33
Jefferson City, Mo., 2:59:22
• Four previous attempts to break the 3:05 Boston qualifying time for his age group were unsuccessful.
But Schulte was all smiles as he crossed the finish line Sunday in just under three hours, and plenty of time to qualify for the prestigious race.
"Ultimate and all-time goal," he said.
Schulte said he was with a group running at a 3:05 pace and figured he was going to make his mark. Then he passed the overall female winner, Tia Stone, on the final hill and was able to coast to the finish.
"Pretty smooth," he said.
Sports on 03/07/2016
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