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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Exhaustion peeled one runner after another off the lead pack until at the 19-mile mark only four were left: Cathy O'Brien, Janis Klecker, Francie Larrieu Smith and Lisa Weidenbach.
The sentimental favorites were Larrieu Smith and Weidenbach. Larrieu Smith, 39, made her first Olympic team 20 years ago, at 1,500 meters, and hoped in Houston to become the second person to make five U.S. Olympic track teams (long jumper Willye White was the first). Weidenbach, 30, had finished fourth in each of the two previous marathon trials. "In '84 and '88 I felt I had another chance," she said before the race, "but I'm getting a little older and plucking gray hairs."
Impatient with the steady 5:45 pace. O'Brien covered the 21st mile in 5:29, and she suddenly had 40 yards on Klecker and Larrieu Smith, and even more on Weidenbach. Despite being an Olympic veteran—she placed 40th in Seoul—O'Brien, 24, was the youngest runner in Sunday's race. Her coach, Bob Sevene, says that her short, low stride reminds him of another of his runners. 1984 Olympic champion Joan Samuelson.
But O'Brien's hamstrings tightened in the last two miles, and Klecker swept by her, hitting the tape in 2:30:12. O'Brien finished second, in 2:30:26, and Larrieu Smith third, 13 seconds behind O'Brien.
After the race the 31-year-old Klecker, who's a dentist from Minnetonka, Minn., was a beaming advertisement for her profession. Her sunburst smile was in sharp contrast to Weidenbach's glum expression. Weidenbach had hung on to finish fourth—yet again. As she made her way from the finish line, head bowed, she said, "I wouldn't wish this on anyone."
"Lyle, This One's for You" read the elaborate invitations for the scheduled Jan. 11 tribute in Beverly Hills, Calif., to Lyle Alzado, the former NFL defensive lineman stricken with brain cancer. They listed the humanitarian awards Alzado had been given and the dozens of charities he had worked with during his colorful 15-year career. "I had an incredible tribute planned," says Alzado's business manager and longtime friend, Greg Campbell.
But two days before the $500-a-plate dinner, a major donor withdrew its support, leaving only Alzado's most recent team, the Los Angeles Raiders, which donated $75,000, and Occidental Petroleum ($25,000) as sponsors of the dinner. Organizers had budgeted $400,000 for the event. While scrambling to come up with the rest of the money the day before the dinner, Campbell suffered a mild heart attack and was rushed to Century City Hospital, where he spent the next five days.
On the morning of Jan. 11, the fete had to be called off, and employees of Campbell's company began calling the invited guests. Not all of them were reached in time, and about a dozen showed up that evening.
Alzado also learned of the cancellation that morning. He had already arranged for a tuxedo and a limousine, as well as hotel accommodations for relatives. Friends hastily arranged a small dinner party to take the place of the gala.