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Americans Run for Peace Through Moscow's Streets

August 09, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — In a light-hearted mood but with a serious purpose, about 150 Americans took part Saturday in a Moscow marathon and 10-kilometer peace run.

They ran, walked and even juggled through the streets of Moscow with thousands of Soviet and European entrants.

The American contingent was part of a group known as World Runners whose goal is a world at peace without hunger. They seek individual contributions to promote their objective.

U.S. runners, wearing distinctive T-shirts with slogans in Russian and English describing their goal, were popular with the Soviet crowds who lined the route past the Kremlin through central Moscow.

Bill Fowle, a Traverse City, Mich., social worker, showed up with three red balls in his hands at the start of the 10-K run. "I juggled all the way," he explained. "It's more fun than winning."

Mary Louise Zeller, of San Francisco, appeared in a maternity running outfit for the 10-K. She said she was eight months pregnant and added: "I am not going to run--I am going to walk. Oh, for the last 50 yards, maybe I'll run. My 82-year-old mother-in-law, Olive Zeller of Milwaukee, is going to walk with me."

Mary Louise's husband, Ron, was entered in the marathon, a 26-mile endurance contest, and her son, Tony Nogures, an 800-meter runner for San Francisco State College, was signed up for the 10-kilometer course, along with Zeller's two sons by a former marriage, Richard, 27, and Ryan, 25.

A delegation from Hawaii brought 5,000 orchids to pass out to other competitors and a boat paddle, inscribed "Peace Without Hunger" in both Russian and English, as a present for Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Eleven people came from Texas, according to Brenda Nasser of Houston, who described herself as the photographer, historian and recorder for the Texas delegation.

Her husband, John W. Spigelmyer, a Houston management consultant, entered the marathon to celebrate his 46th birthday on Saturday, she said. His son, also named John, preferred to observe from the sidelines.

Heart-Shaped Greetings

The American runners distributed pins, tiny American flags, heart-shaped greetings from 1,300 children in the United States, red cards explaining about "Peace Without Hunger" and, at the finish line, 5,000 T-shirts.

Suzanne Belcher, a white-haired woman from Rochester, Ind., said, "We found people to be very, very friendly."

The same theme was echoed by Gordon Starr, 43, a management consultant from Sausalito, Calif., who took five hours to finish the marathon.

"This is a citizen-diplomacy run," Starr said. "We pass out pins and balloons, stop to kiss babies and hug women," he said. "The response from the crowd was just incredible." The marathon, he said, was open to runners from all parts of the Soviet Union and some came from thousands of miles to compete in the race.

"There were all kinds of people--young and old, fast and slow, a smattering of women," Starr said.

He said he was pledged to run a marathon every year from now until the end of the century to raise money for the anti-hunger campaign. So far, he said, he has accounted for about half of his $1-million goal with nine marathons since he began in 1979.

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