It seemed distinctly possible he would experience that side in Columbus. A 1988 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth, Kempainen had postponed his second year of medical school at the University of Minnesota to train at altitude in Fort Collins, Colo. Things went well until Thanksgiving, when a pain developed in his right knee. A month later the ailment was diagnosed as a rare stress fracture of the patella. In January, Kempainen was limited to "running" in a pool or using a cross-country ski machine. When he started training again in February, he developed tendinitis in his other knee. It was March before he could really train normally.
Kempainen runs with his elbows far back and shoulders thrust forward, as if he's anticipating the tape too soon. In the uphill 20th and 21st miles, he pushed through with times of 5:11 and 5:07.
Brantly and Reifsnyder were caught at 22 miles by their three pursuers. "It was like Merry Christmas when they came back," said Eyestone. At 30, Eyestone, a BYU graduate, is the veteran of the three 1992 Olympians-to-be. He made the 1988 U.S. team but finished a disappointing 29th in Seoul.
Just past the 24-mile mark Spence, Eyestone and Kempainen looked back over their shoulders in unison. "We're all sale." Spence told the others.
They did not discuss tying. Half a mile from the finish, Spence surged up a short hill, leaving Kempainen and Eyes-tone for good. He reached the finish in 2:12:43, eight seconds ahead of Eyestone. Kempainen was clocked in 2:12:54, superb in view of his limited preparation: He may have the brightest future of all. The three Olympic qualifiers won $40,000, $30,000 and $20,000, respectively, for finishing in the top three. In addition each earned a $2,000 bonus for breaking 2:14 and a training stipend of $16,000.
None of the three appeared spent by his effort. "We were holding back at points," said Spence. "The three of us seemed comfortable most of the way. We're going to recover quickly for Barcelona."