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Malakwen, Bifa Win Twin Cities Marathon

Winners Twin Cities 2011

Winners Twin Cities 2011

MINNEAPOLIS – (October 2, 2011) – Kenya’s Sammy Malakwen and Ethiopia’s Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa won the men’s and women’s titles in glorious autumn conditions at the 30th running of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday morning.

Malakwen, who often makes a home in northern Minnesota when he is racing in the United States, ran 2 hours, 13 minutes, 11 seconds on the scenic course that runs from downtown Minneapolis to the state capitol in St. Paul.

Tadesse Bifa became the second-straight Twin Cities women’s champion from her country, following in the footsteps of 2010 champ Buzunesh Deba with a 2:28:24 clocking, the seventh-fastest women’s performance on the course.

Start-time temperature where in the low 40s under a cloudless sky.

Malakwen and three other contenders stayed in a pack until the final mile of the race, before the 33-year-old’s final push separated him from his challengers. Countryman Joseph Mutinda, the fourth place finisher at Twin Cities in 2009, finished second in 2:13:24, while fellow Kenyan Weldon Kirui, only 21-years-old, was third in 2:13:31.

“At 25 miles, I decided to run away from them,” the third-place finisher at this year’s Grandma’s Marathon said. “I was ahead, I was leading, and I knew I was going to win.”

Malakwen described fighting through leg cramps in the early-going and then weathering surges from within the pack as the final mile approached.

“When I felt the cramps, I just rolled my legs at the same pace,” he explained. “No sprinting or I would ruin my cramps.”

Tadesse Bifa might have liked some of the competitive company Malakwen enjoyed in the latter miles as it could have pushed her to the time she had targeted for the race.

“I had initially planned to run under 2:26,” Tadesse Bifa said through an interpreter, “but I’m grateful for having run as quickly as God willed that I run. I ran the time that I ran because I was uncontested in the last miles.”

Tadesse Bifa, 23, ran alone for the last nine miles of the race and ran the second half of the course, which is hillier, just over two minutes slower than the first.

“The continual up and down in the last ten miles of the race bothered me toward the end,” the 2010 Dubai Marathon champ admitted.

In the USA Masters Marathon Championships held in conjunction with the event for the 21st consecutive year, Tracy Lokken, 46, of Marquette, Mich. won his third USA Masters title, running 2:24:44. Oddly, Lokken also won titles here in 2007 and 2009.

Defending USA Masters champ Mbarak Hussein, 46, a three-time USA Masters champ and a two-time winner of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon dropped out of the race at 18 miles after experiencing leg cramps.

In women’s 40 and older race, Sheri Piers of Falmouth, Maine, 40, won her first USA Masters Marathon crown in 2:37:42, finishing in eighth place overall.

30th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon: USA Masters Championships
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, October 2, 2011

MEN
1) Sammy Malakwen (KEN), 2:13:11, $15,000
2) Joseph Mutinda (KEN), 2:13:24, $10,000
3) Weldon Kirui (KEN), 2:13:31, $7000
4) Julius Koskei Kibet (KEN), 2:13:38, $5000
5) Guor Marial (USA / AZ), 2:14:32, $4000
6) Philip Metto (KEN), 2:14:35, $3000
7) Fred Tumbo (KEN), 2:14:59, $2000
8) Pius Nyantika (KEN), 2:15:50, $1000
9) Jeff Weiss (USA / PA), 2:17:22, $750
10) George Towett (KEN), 2:18:19, $500

MASTERS MEN (40+)
1) Tracy Lokken, 46, MI, 2:24:44, $9000
2) Malcolm Campbell, 40, GA, 2:25:58, $5800
3) Tony Torres, 42, CA, 2:27:08, $4000

WOMEN
1) Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa (ETH), 2:28:24, $15,000
2) Nadezdha Leonteva (RUS), 2:32:53, $10,000
3) Emily Harrison (USA / AZ), 2:32:55, $7000
4) Doreen Kitaka (KEN), 2:33:53, $5000
5) Mary Akor (USA / CA), 2:37:22, $4000
6) Truphena Tarus (KEN), 2:37:24, $3000
7) Erin Vergara (USA / IN), 2:37:31, $2000
8) Sheri Piers, 40, USA / ME, 2:37:42, $10,000
9) Elena Nagovitsyna (RUS), 2:38:59, $750
10) Gina Slaby (USA / AZ), 2:39:35, $500

MASTERS WOMEN (40+)
1) Piers, see above
2) Susan Empey, 43, WA, 2:45:27, $5800
3) Shannon McHale, 40, CT, 2:45:48, $4000

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