St. Louis Stadium Run Race Report

Stadium Run T-Shirt

The picture above is from an old race t-shirt that I found in my closet. Luckily, it had the date of the run on it so it made it easier to search the web for information about the race.

The race was a staggered start based on age. Older racers got to start first and younger racers had to try and catch them. The race started outside of Busch stadium and ended inside the stadium at center field.

Here’s the article about the race from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Fall Fails To Faze Fennell… Runner, 58, Wins 3rd Stadium Run In Row

By Bill Coats
Post-Dispatch Assistant Sports Editor
PUBLICATION: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
DATE: August 5, 1991

“Next year,” said one St. Louis Track Club member, “we’re going to make Leon carry weights.”

No, thanks, said Leon Fennell. The pressure is heavy enough.

Fennell won another Bud Light Stadium Run on Sunday. That in itself hardly is shocking news - he’s won three in a row and four of the last five.

But the way he won this one was somewhat out of the ordinary.

First, there was the unexpected rain that pelted the field of about 2,500 runners from start to finish.

But, Fennell said, the inclement weather didn’t really bother him.

Then, he moved through the runners ahead of him and took the lead about 3 12 miles into the 10,000-meter (6.2 miles) race. That put him in front about a half-mile earlier than last year, which meant he ran alone “with nobody to pace on” for nearly half the race.

But, Fennell said, that wasn’t much of a problem, either.

And then, there was the tumble he took on Spruce Street just before entering Busch Stadium and heading to the finish line. “My shoelace came untied and I think I stepped on it,” he said, pointing to a bloody knee. “I fell flat, all spread out.”

But, Fennell said, that didn’t shake him much, either.

What did bother him, Fennell said, was the expectation of victory.

“This was the hardest Stadium Run for me ever,” he said, shaking his head. “I just feel like I’m under a lot of pressure, with everybody cheering me on and expecting me to win.

“I find myself thinking, ‘Oh, no, please don’t let me lose.’ ” Not to worry. As runner-up Bobby Williams put it, “Leon is just about impossible to catch in this event.”

That’s because the Stadium Run is the only annual handicap race in the area. Runners get a “head start,” determined by a formula based on age and gender. Some runners start as much as 17 minutes earlier than others.

Fennell, 58, had a nine-minute advantage. Because he can run a 10K well under 40 minutes, he is, as Williams said, almost impossible to catch.

The course began at the stadium, wound south to the Anheuser-Busch brewery and then turned back to the Stadium. Fennell covered it in 37 minutes 35 seconds; lop off his handicap, and his race time was 28:35.

Fennell already was 5 12 minutes into the race when Williams started. Williams, 38, had a 3 12-minute handicap.

Williams’ victory in the 1988 Stadium Run is the only interruption in Fennell’s string of victories that began in ‘87. But Williams couldn’t get close enough Sunday to make a charge at Fennell.

“I got within about a half-mile of him,” Williams said. “When I got to the 5-mile marker, some people told me I was about two minutes behind him. But I knew I couldn’t catch him. He’s just running too well.”

If Williams had been on his heels, Fennell’s fall near the finish would have been significant. As it was, Fennell had time to pick himself up, regain his bearings and continue. “I couldn’t afford to stop and tie my shoe,” said Fennell, who noticed the loose lace at about 5 12 miles. “I knew Bobby was back there.”

But back there far enough that there was no pressure on Fennell - despite what he was feeling.

When Fennell turned into the stadium and charged down the ramp toward the finish line on the AstroTurf near second base, he was alone.

Williams finished 50 seconds back, with an actual time of 32:55 and a race time of 29:25.

Third was Chad Williamson, 15, in 30:06; his actual time was 33:36. The first female finisher was Lisa Stone, 22, who was 11th overall. Her race time was 31:18, and her actual time was 35:48.

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