SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Running 26 miles -- the classic marathon distance -- in shoes is quite a feat, but how about racing 26 miles on roller skates?
That's what Tom Peterson and a big field of international racers will do today on the next to last program of the 11-day World Games I.
Not to be left out, an equally large field of women racers will bump along over a 13-mile course in a companion marathon.
Peterson already has won Games gold medals at 5,000 and 10,000 meters by way of warming up for today's event. Even he admits marathons on skates are not for the faint-hearted and it takes a skater of great endurance simply to survive.
But Peterson isn't thinking simply of finishing. What he'd like to do is win the race and take home his third gold medal to Tacoma, Wash.
In the women's shorter race, world champion Annie Lambrechts of Belgium, winner of the 15,000 on Wednesday, is the favorite.
Peterson, who stunned the world of international racing by winning three World titles this year (no American ever had won even one), had to sweat out more than an hour Friday before learning his victory in the 10,000 was official.
That's because one of the judges thought he needlessly pushed and shoved on the final turn. However, while there was considerable pushing and shoving by all the racers in the event, the judges, after viewing film of the race, declared Peterson the winner.
The day before, Peterson was denied the bronze medal in the 20,000, won by New Zealand's Scott Constantine, for going too wide on the final turn.
No one will have to worry about such matters in the marathon, since it will be run over city streets in an industrial park area near Marriott's Great America amusement park.
In addition to the two marathons, there will be finals today in bowling andcasting. No Americans are in the running for medals in bowling where Arne Strom of Norway faces Ernst Berndt of Sweden in the men's singles final and Liliane Gregori of France meets Portnip Singha of Thailand in the women's event. There also will be a final rolloff in the mixed doubles.
However, in casting, the United States has two top competitors in Steve Rajeff of San Francisco and Chris Korich of Oakland. Rajeff already has won two casting gold medals and Korich one.
Friday, the United States picked up five golds in all and now has 27. Korea, winning nine of 10 taekwondo titles, is next, followed by Japan, Canada and Italy with seven each. In total medals, the U.S. has 71. Italy is second with 38.