LOS ANGELES (Sunday, March 15, 2015) – Warm temperatures may have slowed the fields slightly, but the action was as hot as ever at the ASICS LA Marathon Sunday morning. As the race got underway, American favorite Ryan Hall shot to the lead, stringing out the men’s pack and separating himself from the U.S. contingent, as the USATF Marathon Championships were contested in conjunction with the event.
Hall couldn’t hold on to his early front-running margin, losing his two minute lead over the American chase pack just past the halfway point in the race. As Matt Llano, Daniel Tapia and Jared Ward ran by Hall, he tried to maintain form, only to veer off to the side and officially drop out.
In the women’s race, an early group of over a dozen athletes, whittled down to eight athletes by the halfway marker, led by Olga Kimaiyo and Natalya Puchkova, while Americans Blake Russell, Brianne Nelson, Becky Wade, Heather Lieberg and Sara Hall all still maintained contact with the leaders.
As the men’s race continued on, Allan Kiprono led the elite men through halfway in 1:05:10, at which point Milton Kiplagat took over pacing duties from a pack of a half-dozen international athletes. Kiplagat maintained pace until Edwin Koech took over the lead and pushed the pace, stringing the pack out.
Just past mile 19, Koech picked up the pace again, this time building a lead of nearly 15 seconds by mile 20. As the pack faded away, Daniel Limo and Lani Rutto worked hard to maintain pace. By mile 22, Limo bridged the gap between himself and Koech, taking over the lead, one he would never relinquish.
Limo, who has been in the lead pack since the opening gun, hammered home the final 10K of the race, building a half minute lead by mile 23 and over a minute lead by mile 24. Koech slid backwards, allowing Rutto to catch him, solidifying himself in the runner-up position, while Ward moved up into third the final few miles of the race, taking the podium along with the USATF Marathon title.
Limo was the only runner on the day to dip under 2:11 with his 2:10:36 time, the heat obviously affecting the field. Rutto and Ward each broke 2:13, as Rutto ran to a time of 2:12:43, while Ward set a personal best of over a minute with his 2:12:56 mark.
As the men’s pack became very small quickly after half way, but that wasn’t the case on the women’s side. Pre-race favorites Kimaiyo and Puchkova took turns trading the lead, along with Russell. The lead pack maintained a count of eight runners until mile 19, when Kimaiyo and Puchkova broke free of the pack.
The two woman battle continued for the next four miles until Kimaiyo finally broke Puchkova, pulling away to a lead she would never relinquish, crossing the finish arms raised in 2:34:10. Puchkova continued strong to finish a solid runner-up in 2:34:33.
While Kimaiyo and Puchkova battled for the overall title, it was the 39-year-old Russell who came away big. Having not finished a marathon since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Russell ran composed mile after mile, putting herself solidly in third with 5K to go, well ahead of her American counterparts and on her way to a $25,000 pay day for winning the USATF Marathon Championship title. Russell finished in 2:34:57, besting Mao Kuroda by seven seconds.
30th Los Angeles Marathon
Los Angeles, Calif., Sunday, March 15, 2015
1 Daniel Limo (KEN) 2:10:36
2 Lani Rutto (KEN) 2:12:43
3 Jared Ward (USA) – USATF Marathon Champion 2:12:56
4 Edwin Koech (KEN) 2:13:36
5 David Kiyeng (KEN) 2:15:34
6 Matt Llano (USA) 2:16:13
7 Mike Morgan (USA) 2:16:56
8 Daniel Tapia (USA) 2:17:14
9 Max King (USA) 2:17:32
10 Stephan Shay (USA) 2:18:08
1 Ogla Kimaiyo (KEN) 2:34:10
2 Natalya Puchkova (RUS) 2:34:33
3 Blake Russell (USA) 2:35:57
4 Mao Kuroda (JPN) 2:35:04
5 Heather Lieberg (USA) 2:35:32
6 Brianne Nelson (USA) 2:36:08
7 Jodie Robertson (USA) 2:36:18
8 Becky Wade (USA) 2:37:30
9 Kathleen DiCamillo (USA) 2:37:59
10 Lauren Jimison (USA) 2:39:16