Bob Kempainen

Bob Kempainen

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Bob Kempainen
Event marathon
Height 6-0.5/1.84m
Weight 145lbs./65kg
Born June 18, 1966 at Minneapolis, Mn
High School Hopkins-Lindbergh HS, Minnetonka, Mn '84
College Dartmouth '88

Robert Ralph "Bob" Kempainen (1966-) competed for the United States in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.


Personal records

  • 3,000 8:00.0 '91
  • 5,000 13:44.05 '93
  • 10,000 28:23.80 '93
  • 5K 14;02 '91
  • 10K 28:58' '91
  • 10M 48:47 '96
  • Half-Marathon 1:00:48' '95
  • Marathon 2:08:47' '94

Career highlights


6) USA Junior 5,000 14 )NCAA XC


10)NCAA 5,000 4)NCAA XC


6)NCAA 10,000 11)NCAA XC 8)USA XC


3)NCAA 10,000 15)Olympic Trials 10,000 2)USA XC


19)World XC Trials 2)USA 10,000 3)USA XC


59)World XC 6)USA 10,000 1)USA XC


83) World XC 14) USA 10,000 2) Twin Cities Marathon


3)Olympic Trials Marathon 17)Olympic Games Marathon 6)USA XC


dnf)USA 10,0000 2) New York City Marathon


7) Boston Marathon 2) New York City Marathon 7)USA XC


2) Los Angeles Marathon


1)Olympic Trials Marathon 31)Olympic Games Marathon

PACC_Faculty_Kempainen.jpg No high school superstar, Kempainen developed under the tutelage of Vin Lananna, who recruited him to Dartmouth (Lananna is now the head coach at Stanford, where his teams won both the men's and women's NCAA cross country titles last fall).

A 30:14 for 10,000m as a frosh showed Kempainen's potential. The next year, he made the NCAA final in the 5,000m. By the time of his senior year in 1988, he ran 28:42.51, placed third in the NCAA's and made it to the Olympic Trials.

After college, a couple of years spent concentrating on the 10,000m gave him a runner-up finish at nationals, but no great times or breakthroughs. He and Lananna decided the time had come to move up.

The results of Kempainen's first marathon, the Twin Cities race, indicated he had made the right choice. He finished second in 2:12:12. The next year, at the Olympic Trials, he ran a solid 2:12:54 for third place, becoming an Olympian at age 25. He followed that up with a 17th in Barcelona in 2:15:53. "I was a novice," he says of that race.

In 1993, Kempainen ran his fastest track race ever, a 28:23 10k, but failed to finish the national championship race. So, in the fall he returned to the roads, finishing second in the New York City Marathon in a PR 2:11:03.

From 1994 on, Kempainen has been ranked as the number one U.S. marathoner. His Boston performance that year captured the imagination of running fans, and his name will probably be best known for that race, even though he only finished seventh. Running with a tailwind on the predominantly downhill Boston course, Kempainen blasted a 2:08:47. That mark is significantly faster than the recognized American record of 2:10:04, but is not accorded full record status because of the slope of the course.

Last February, Kempainen won the 1996 Olympic Trials Marathon, ironically his first win in any major marathon. His 2:12:45 victory earned him a cool $100K, but also what many would consider an embarrassment. In the closing stages of the race, he battled severe stomach cramps and vomited repeatedly without breaking his stride, a scene that television journalists delighted in showing.

Nike later crafted an ad campaign around the incident, something Kempainen claimed didn't bother him. "I really don't care," he said. "I've got other things on my mind. It's part of their 'blood and guts' campaign. Given how much help they've given me over the years, if they wanted it, I had no problem with it."

As Kempainen prepped for the Olympics, he suffered tendinitis in the iliotibial bands in both legs. He lost nearly two months of running and waited till nearly the last moment before deciding to go through with the Olympic marathon.

The race must have hurt. Kempainen planned to run an "evenly-paced, efficient race" and avoid the surges at the front of the pack. Hoping to improve on his Barcelona placing, he trudged back to the Olympic stadium in 31st place. "This is the first marathon I really died in," he said of his 2:18:38.

Kempainen subsequently retired from competitive running and works as an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota specializing in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.[1] He was inducted into the RRCA Hall of Fame in 2003.

External links


  1. Retrieved 2008-12-31.