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Super Marathon Man Runs Down Record : Runner: Doug Kurtis set a world record, finishing his 12th marathon of year under 2 hours, 20 minutes.

December 11, 1989|JOHN GEIS

SAN DIEGO — Doug Kurtis is Clark Kent--metaphorically speaking, of course.

Disguised as a mild-mannered computer purchaser for Ford Motor Co., Kurtis became somewhat of a Superman after completing Sunday's San Diego International Marathon in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 15 seconds.

His fourth-place finish was no big deal in itself, but combined with his previous 11 marathons finished under 2 hours, 20 minutes this year, Kurtis becomes a world-record holder.

His finish in the San Diego marathon effectively erased Kjell-Erik Stahl's record of 11 sub-2:20s. The Swede ran those in 1983 at age 36.

Kurtis is 37.

After he set the mark, Kurtis maintained his mild-mannered demeanor. No jumping for joy. No high-fives from other runners. No special ceremony.

Kurtis just wore a broad smile and spoke in a quiet, no-big-deal tone of voice--even when he had to inform two radio reporters of what he just accomplished.

When asked if the realization of what he had done hit, Kurtis just shrugged, then answered:

"It'll take a long time before somebody does this again," he said. "Stahl made it a tough record to achieve. It's kind of nice when you have something different--and something that's tough to go out and get."

Tough? Kurtis made it sound almost easy.

His body usually recuperates in a day. "The longest it'll take is three days," he said.

After his recovery, Kurtis, who lives in Detroit, begins his regimen of running 105 to 110 miles per week.

It takes most marathoners one to two weeks to rid themselves of the aches and pains of running 26 miles.

Not Kurtis.

"Hey, just run confidently, run easy and relaxed, and you'll do it," he said. "I go into every race and I don't have to think about winning. I have that other goal, that second challenge."

Kurtis has found a comfort zone. It was his 12th success in 13 attempts this year. He just missed on Nov. 26 in the Bangkok Marathon, finishing in 2:20.15.

"If you're running just under 2:20 (Kurtis' 12 times range from 2:16:19 to 2:19:51), you can achieve the record pretty quickly," said Mark Plaatjes, Sunday's second-place finisher at 2:16:51. "But it's a different story if your going all out and doing 2:10 or 2:11--you can't recover from that in a week."

Kurtis even admitted to having trouble recovering from his first marathon, the 1974 Boston Marathon. He was 22 then.

He finished in 2 hours, 47 minutes.

"And the same thing went through my mind that probably goes through the minds of every first-time marathon runner," Kurtis said. "I thought, 'Well this is stupid. I'll never do this again.' Then a few days later you think, 'Well, it was kind of exciting.' And about a week later you think 'Well, maybe I will do it again.' "

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