SI Vault
Richard O'Brien
December 03, 1990
Lynn Jennings (501) won her fourth straight TAC title, but Pat Porter lost
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December 03, 1990

A Sure Thing

Lynn Jennings (501) won her fourth straight TAC title, but Pat Porter lost

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"That's it," said Jennings, as she pulled on her sweats after the race. "I'm on vacation now—for the next month."

Asked what she intended to do with her time off, America's best female distance runner flashed a grin. " Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Chocolate Chunk," she said.

Porter, meanwhile, couldn't consider such pleasant thoughts. Instead, he could only think about his power failure on Cemetery Hill. "I didn't know whether to push it again or to try to regroup," he said after the race—adding with a rueful smile, "I got buried on Cemetery."

Actually, the interment took place about a half mile farther along the course. Kempainen, running just ahead of the gritty Nuttall, erased most of Porter's gap during the precipitous descent on the other side of Cemetery. By the time the runners crossed a bridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway and headed again into the heavily wooded back hills, with just under two miles to go, Kempainen was pulling away.

"I tried to come back," said Porter, "I thought if I could stay with him, I'd get him in the end."

But Kempainen was running an inspired race. "People kept yelling to me that I had 50, 60 yards," said Kempainen after the race, "but I wanted to keep the intensity up until I crossed the line."

He did just that, breaking the finish banner in 30:22.43. Porter, his face drawn tight with effort, finished almost 13 seconds back, as Nuttall hung on for third. Porter's streak—one of the most impressive accomplishments in recent running history—was over.

Seated beside Kempainen in the interview tent after the race, Porter said, "It's almost a relief. I'm happy for the guy. He's been working real hard. It's not as if he lucked into it."

With his victory, Kempainen automatically earned a berth on the U.S. team for the world championships next March in Antwerp, Belgium. Jennings, too, qualified to defend her title, while, for the first time in nine years, Porter will be required to run the trials race.

"I would have anyway," said Porter with a shrug.

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