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Curran, Kosgei Win Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corp Marathon 2014

Newcomer to marathons wins women’s race, Uganda native Samuel Kosgei is men’s champion

ARLINGTON, Va. – Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 – Most of the 20,000 runners who started today’s 39th edition of the Marine Corps Marathon have been focusing for months and months on this most revered 26.2-mile challenge.

Meghan Curran found out just a couple of weeks ago she was running MCM –  her very first marathon. Running for the all-Army team, the 5-3, 110-pound West Point graduate took it all in stride, carefully pacing herself like a veteran and taking the lead for good after 17 miles along the museums of the National Mall. Curran, a 28-year-old field artillery officer and Army captain at Fort Dix in New Jersey, scored a clocking of 2 hours, 51 minutes, 47 seconds, well ahead of her three-hour projected time.

The all-Army team did even better in the men’s race, sweeping the first two places with Samuel Kosgei from Fort Riley, Kan., leading the way in spectacular fashion and Laban Sialo from Fort Carson, Colo. earning the runner-up honors.

For the faster runners, the weather was considered perfect. Sunny, clear skies and dry air offered conditions for personal bests, which at least a third of the field – first-timers – were going to get anyways. But the wind did begin to pick up as the morning wore on, acting as one last obstacle to overcome in the late and tiring stages of the race.

Curran said it all started with her colonel asking her if she would run for the team at the Army Ten Miler two weeks ago, which she finished in just over an hour, good for 14th place. Then the colonel asked about the marathon. Curran said she had planned on maybe doing the Outer Banks Marathon on November 9 or one in early winter.

The short notice didn’t seem to bother Curran. She hung back and stayed true to her pace – 6:25s – passing through the half-marathon at the notorious Hains Point section of East Potomac Park in 1:25:06. She was more than 2 ½ minutes behind leader Colleen Little.

“I’m happy, got the first one out of the way,” said the Chelmsford, Mass., native and 2009 West Point grad. “Once I got to 18, 19 miles, I just took it a mile at a time. People were telling me [Little] was up there, a minute ahead, then 40 seconds ahead, then 20 seconds ahead. Around miles 20, 21, that was the first time I was hurting a bit. There were a couple of Marine guys ahead of me and they saw I was struggling. They let me run with them and that helped.”

Those miles, over the windy, lonely 14th Street Bridge from Washington, DC, back into Virginia, was not so pleasant for Kosgei either. The Ugandan-born runner who came to America on a scholarship at Lamar College also hung back for a long while, as Ethiopian Getachew Asifew tried to run away with the race.

Shortly after two miles into the race, up the hills of Arlington, Getachew took over the lead and slowly built up a minute margin by the turnaround in Rock Creek Park some 7 ½ miles into the marathon. He passed 10 kilometers in 32:36, chased by a pack with included Kosgei, Sialo and local Arlington favorite Michael Wardian.

Getachew lengthened his lead to a minute and a half by 15 kilometers and to nearly two minutes by the midway point, 1:08:33 on the clock. Had he looked back, he wouldn’t have seen another runner behind him.

Kosgei couldn’t see him either, and he became concerned.

“After 14 miles, that’s when we started pushing to try to run him down,” said Kosgei, a two-time all-America at Lamar who has a 2:17 personal best from the 2012 Twin Cities Marathon. “[Sialo and I] ran as a team.”

Then Kosgei went into overdrive, with back to back 4:52 miles through 15 and 16. Suddenly, on the National Mall, he appeared behind Getchew and he was closing extremely fast. Right after the turnaround with the U.S. Capitol in the backdrop and the 19-mile marker in view, some one hour 40 minutes and 50 seconds into the race, Kosgei finally took the lead he would never relinquish.

“It was flat, that’s why I thought I could run him down,” Kosgei said. “Let me stay on my pace, stay focused.”

Soon after, however, the 14th Street Bridge nearly derailed him.

“That bridge, I think it was the hardest part,” he continued. “My legs were weakening. I started to feel good again at 25.”

Sialo, who was born in the elite-runner-rich town of Kapsabet, Kenya, and was a star runner for the University of Central Missouri Mules, passed Getachew right before the bridge into second. The Army medical assistant, who had shot past Kosgei in the last 10 meters of the Army Ten Miler here two weeks ago, ended in 2:23:48. Justin Turner of the U.S. Navy was third in 2:25:05 and Wardian, in his 10th MCM, notched fourth place overall and first masters runner. Ruben Garcia Gomez, 43, the Mexican who triumphed here in 2005 and 2006, was second master in 2:34:00.

“I was pretty happy,” said Wardian, 40, sporting his now signature beard resembling Forest Gump as he criss-crossed the country in the beloved movie. “I was trying for a 2:18 but I ran a 50-miler last week.  I also did a 2:22 at Twin Cities two weeks ago. This is my hometown race. I love this race.”

MCM also is Lindsay (nee Goulet) Wilkins’ hometown race. She has the unique distinction at MCM of being on the losing end of the closest women’s finish in the long and storied history of the MCM. That would be the year 2008, when she was outdueled by Kristen Henehan by 11 seconds.

“In 2008, I was up there [in contention] the whole time,” said Wilkins, 36.

This year, her runner-up effort was not so heartbreaking. Wilkins was far off the leaders for much of the race. In fact, she was 4 ½ minutes away from the leader at the half marathon mark. “At mile 24, I was still back in fourth place,” she explained. “Then after Crystal City, I was in third. Right before mile 25, I passed the second-place gal into second place. I was very happy with my progression. I went out slow and slowly picked off people. It was a cooler feeling this year over 2008 as I was picking off people.”

Her 2:52:20 was not as fast as her 2008 PR 2:49:06, to which she partly attributed to a windy last couple of miles.

Gina Slaby, a 33-year-old from Virginia Beach, was third in 2:52:32, and with fourth-place finisher Kara Waters of Great Falls, Va., in 2:52:33, the top four women finished within a minute of each other. Forty-year-old Kristina Brendzel of Tampa, Fl., was top master in 2:59:20.

The winners of the accompanying 10K race were Mynor Lopez of Falls Church, Va. in 32:40 and Sarah Bishop of Gilroy, Ca., in 37:59, good for 22nd overall. A field of 7,635 completed the 10K. Marathon finishers as indicated on the MCM website were 19,661.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

Arlington, VA, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

Top Men

1.       Samuel Kosgei , USA/KS, 2:22:12
2.       Laban Sialo, USA/CO, 2:23:48
3.       Justin Turner, USA/CA, 2:25:05
4.       Michael Wardian, USA/ VA, 2:25:42
5.       Graham Tribble, USA/VA, 2:25:52
6.       Jacob Chamer, USA/MD, 2:30:40
7.       Christopher Pruitt, USA/MD, 2:31:08
8.       David Kiplagat, USA/CO, 2:32:11
9.       Andrew Catalano, USA/CO, 2:32:16
10.   Timothy Richard, USA/NM, 2:33:53

Top Masters

1.      Michael Wardian, 40, 2:25:42
2.       Ruben Garcia Gomez, 43, MEX, 2:34:00
3.       Finley Walls, 45, USA/VA, 2:36:19

Top Women

1. Meghan Curran, USA/NJ, 2:51:47
2. Lindsay Wilkins, USA/VA, 2:52:20
3. Gina Slaby, USA/VA, 2:52:32
4. Kara Waters, USA/VA, 2:52:33
5. Erin Taylor, USA/VA, 2:52:54
6. Kathryn Neeper, USA/DC, 2:56:55
7. Stephanie Fulmer, USA/VA, 2:59:14
8. Kristina Brendzel, USA/FL, 2:59:20
9. Cheryl Collins-Gatons, USA/PA, 2:59:50
10. Kelly Swain, USA/VA, 3:00:55

Top Masters

1.       Brendzel, 40, 2:59:20
2.       Collin-Gatons, 47, 2:59:50
3.       Brenda Schrank, 42, USA/VA, 3:03:39

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