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Kim Jones Still Running at 39

October 30, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ During the early 1980s, women’s marathoning was a phenomenon and times were decreasing rapidly. Talk of a sub 2-hour, 20-minute, race was rampant, as the women were quickly closing the gap with the men’s marathoners.

During the 1990s, the playing field has leveled off, and no woman has come within a minute of the women’s world record of 2:21:06 set by Norway’s Ingrid Kristiansen at London in 1985. The closest was Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe, winner of the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:22:07 in April. Loroupe also is favored to win her third New York City Marathon Sunday.

Kim Jones, the New York runner-up in 1989 and 1990 and the fourth-place finisher last year, has an opinion on why women’s marathoning is not making the rapid strides it was during the 1980s.

``Women who were competing 10 years ago had steady progress,″ said Jones, 39, who has completed 21 marathons and owns the fastest time by an American during the 1990s _ 2:26:40 at Boston in 1991. ``Now, people want quick results, and they’re forcing it. Some of them get up there (with fast times), then they drop down. They’re not consistent.

``There’s even more pressure on Americans to do well, because the U.S. likes to excel. The runners of today are in a hurry to reach that success.

``You can push as hard as you can in training, but you can’t go beyond that. If you were doing 60 miles (a week) in college, and then you wanted to run a marathon, you can’t jump to 100 miles or more just like that. You need to do a gradual buildup.″

Jones ran her first marathon in 1985 off 60 miles per week training and finished second in 2:35 at Twin Cities. The following year, she ran 2:32. She remained at that time for a couple of years, before cracking the 2:30 barrier, then had her big breakthrough at Boston six years ago.

``I believe I can run that time again (2:26:40), because I don’t have the aches and pains I had then,″ said Jones, the oldest elite competitor in Sunday’s field.

Despite her age, Jones appears to be running better than ever.

In May, she won the Lilac Bloomsday 12K race in her hometown of Spokane, Wash., in 40:34. She was delighted with her time because it was faster than in her first Lilac race that began her career.

Then, last month, she placed second in the U.S. 10K championships at Boston in 32:49.

Overall, she is the third-fastest American women’s marathoner, behind Joan Benoit Samuelson and Julie Brown. She was the top-ranked U.S. marathoner in 1986, 1989 and 1990. In the marathons she has completed, she has been in the top five 17 times, including 10 second-place finishes.

``Being second is frustrating, but second’s better than third,″ she said.

As she said, consistency is the key.

That’s why Jones said that as long as she remains healthy, she plans on running competitively for a few more years.

``I truly enjoy it,″ she said. ``I don’t kill myself out there. I like to train hard. But taking time off from hard training (late in the year) and resting has helped me. I don’t see why I can’t keep running into my 40s.

``If I have a bad race, I shrug it off. I don’t dwell on it.″

While Jones is prospering with her running, so is her youngest daughter, Jamie, 17.

Jamie, who ran in a regional cross country meet Wednesday in Spokane, left for New York Thursday to watch her mother in the marathon.

Jones encourages her daughter’s running career but doesn’t get overly involved.

``I give her coach some advice only if she asks,″ Jones said. ``I don’t try and intrude.″

Jamie’s attitude toward running has changed over the years.

``When she was 9, she said she wanted to be a runner so she wouldn’t have to work,″ Jones said. ``Now, she wants to be a runner, but she knows it’s a lot of work.″

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