Garry Bjorklund, 26, of Minneapolis, demolished the competition and established a course record as he finished first among the 1,707 starters in the Maryland Marathon today.
Bjorklund's winning time of 2 hours 13 minutes 46 seconds was an improvement over the 2:14.22 standard set by Bill Rodgers, who won here last year.
Julie Levri, 8, from Rockville, Md. produced one of the fastest marathohs for a girl her age, running the race in 3:03.31.
"Bjorklund is in the same class as Rodgers and (Frank) Shorter," said Bruce Robinson, 27, of Silver Spring, whose third-place finish was the best by a local contestant.
"I came to this race saying 'I hope I break 2:20, I hope I break 2:20,'" Bjorklund acknowledged after the race, "I didn't expect to break Rodger's record at all."
Bjorklund, who competed in the 10,000 meters for the U.S. in the 1976 Olympics, has run only two marathons before today, but his training at 100 to 150 miles per week gave him the background he needed.
"Everything was perfect today - the weather, the crowd - everything," he said, "I didn't mind running alone because it gave me the freedom to move laterally and to run my own pace."
After beginning in front of Memorial Stadium in sparkling sunshine and mild temperatures, the runners headed north in Baltimore's rowhouse neighborhood. Bjorklund was clustered with the other leaders when they turned around after reaching the halfway mark near Loch Raven Reservoir.
"Then just before Satyr Hill, Bjorklund broke away from us," recunted Dan Cloeter, 25, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who finished second. "he looded so strong that I figured he had the race unless something happened."
Satyr Hill a steep incline of almost a mile which comes near the 18-mile mark in this race, took its tool just as it does every year But not for Bjorklund.
"I ran into the hill and the hill smiled at me like - here I am." he said.
Bjorklund used Satyr to widen his lead to almost a mile over Cloeter and the others. By that point the only question was whether Bjorklund would break Rodger's record.
The lanky, bearded marathoner maintained an easy, fluid stride right to the finish line at Memorial Stadium where hundreds were waiting to applaud his efforts.
Robinson also used Satyr to his advantage. At the halfway mark, he was in 10th place, but he improved his position steadily in the second half of the race.
"I tired to use as full energy as possible getting up Satyr," Robinson explained.
Robinson made his way past Ron Hill, 39, of Manchester, England, and Don Kardong, 28, of Spokane, Wash., an early leader who was unable to keep pace ag after struggling with Satyr.
Although his finish was an improvement over last year's fifth-place finish, Robinson was not completely satisfied.
"I'm at a plateau I'd like to get over," he explained. "My last several marathins have been between 2:20 and 2:30, but my goal is to break 2:20."
The first female finisher was Marilyn Bevans, 28, of Baltimore, who earned 169th place with a time of 2:51:18.
Thomas Zarzychi, 19, of Mt. Clemens, Mich., was the fastest runner under age 20, with a time of 2:27:33, and 12th place. Hal Higdon, 46, of Michigan City, Ind., was the first finisher in the over 40-age bracket, grabbing 60th position in 2:39:15.