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Malakwen Nips Bacha in Miami

Samuel Malakwen outsprints Teferi Bacha

Samuel Malakwen outsprints Teferi Bacha

MIAMI – (January 29, 2012) – Samuel Malakwen of Kenya just inched out Teferi Bacha of Ethiopia in a dramatic sprint to the finish line to win the 10th ING Miami Marathon on Sunday through the streets of Miami, Miami Beach and Coconut Grove.

The spectacular finish was the marathon equivalent of a photo finish in horse racing, with both runners literally running shoulder-to-shoulder down the finish-line chute. It was one of the closest endings in marathon history, and both runners were credited with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 55 seconds.

“The last 100 meters was very crucial to me because I was very tired and exhausted,” said the 33-year-old Malakwen, who visited Miami for the first time. “He just pushed away from me. He ran fast because he saw the finish line and wanted to win. In my mind I said ‘let him go.’ But when I saw the finish line I said ‘I will not let him go’ and I started sprinting very fast.”

The extraordinary finish highlighted a record-setting anniversary year for the Miami race, which saw a sell-out 25,000 runners at the start line on a 66-degree, clear Miami morning.

Bacha was gracious in defeat.

“I am very happy with the results. I have absolutely no grudges. I gave it my best,” the 25-year-old Bacha said. “We were neck-and-neck starting from the half-marathon. We told each other we’d help each other run personal bests. At about 50 meters left we started to sprint.

“I said to myself, I have to win the race, I can see the finish line, there is no reason why I can’t win this. I was leading him until a few feet between me and the finish line when he caught up to me. I felt a pang in my heart when he passed me. I thought I had clinched the finish when I began to sprint, but I realized a little too late how quickly he passed me.”

Finishing third was Benazzouz Slimani of Italy (2:19:48) while a pair of Guatemalans – Alfredo Arevalo (2:22:44) and Mynor Armando Aguilon (2:23:55) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Argentine Raquel Maraviglia, the top women’s finisher in 2:41:39, led from the start of the race and finished nearly four minutes ahead of Wioletta Kryza of Poland (2:45:32) and 2011 ING Miami Marathon champion Alena Vinitskaya of Belarus (2:45:48). It was only Maraviglia’s fourth career marathon.

“I was trying really hard to get the Olympic “A” standard qualifying time,” said the 34-year-old Maraviglia, who fell four minutes short. “Winning was my second goal so at least I achieved that. I thought the course was going to be flat, but there were more bridges than I expected.”

Kryza and Vinitskava ran together throughout the race.

“Today I ran with Wioletta,” said Vinitskaya, who also finished second in Miami in 2003 and 2010. “She really helped me. I told her I needed to stop because I had problems with my legs, but she all the time tried to push me. She could run maybe a little faster, but she really helped me. She stayed with me and told me ‘you can run, you can run.'”

“We know each other from many races,” said Kryza, who was also third here in 2006. “Sometimes she won, sometimes I won. Today she had a big problem, so she said, ‘Can you hold a little, work with me?’ We said we must run together. We tried to run together to the finish line.”

Malakwen and Maraviglia won the $2000 first place prize money with Bacha and Kryza each taking home $1000. The third place finishers earned $500.

The ING Miami Marathon, a USATF-certified course and Boston Marathon qualifier, started at American Airlines Arena, traveled over the MacArthur Causeway to South Beach, through the Venetian Islands, Arts District, Downtown Miami and Coconut Grove. The runners then headed north on Brickell Avenue, finishing just south of Bayfront Park.

A wrong turn by 2011 ING Miami Marathon champion Tesfaye Alemayehu affected the outcome of the men’s half-marathon. Alemayehu, on pace to set a course record, followed a marathon pace vehicle at a split in the course instead of veering off along the half-marathon route.

“I promised them I would improve the race record,” said Alemayehu, who won the full marathon here in 2011. “I was so focused on my pace. I was going to run 61-62 [minutes].”

With Alemayehu out of contention, Kenya’s James Boitt and Uganda’s Harbert Okuti were left to battle, with Boitt (1:06:41) passing Okuti in the last mile (1:07:29) to win.

“At 10 kilometers the pace was two high, between me, Tesfaye, and my friend who came in second,” said Boitt. “I let them go. When I reached 10 miles, that’s when I started pushing. I had to stop a little bit just before the turn off, then I was shown the way. He (Tesfaye) was in front, but I don’t know what happened. I was thinking I was in second position. I lost some seconds, but it’s not much. One mile to the finish was when I caught (Okuti).”

“I followed the right course,” said the 26-year-old Okuti, “but I kind of miscalculated. I was following the fast guy, who unfortunately dropped out. I was kind of okay until the last two miles, that’s when things started going bad for me. I started having stitches, I think dehydration. Actually, all over my body.”

Crossing the finish line in third place was Franklin Tenorio (1:09:38), a 42-year-old from Ecuador, who will be running in the upcoming Boston Marathon before representing his country in this summer’s London Olympics.

In the women’s half-marathon, winner Lilian Mariita of Kenya and Maria Peralta of Buenos Aires, Argentina turned in the fourth and fifth fastest times in the Marathon’s record books. Mariita clocked in at 1:16:04 and Peralta at 1:17:52 while third place went to Michele Suszek of Lone Tree, Colorado in 1:21:29.

“The humidity was hard for me,” said Mariita, who trains in Mexico. “For me I had to drink more water than usual. I am used to the altitude. This is my first time in Miami.”

“I ran very relaxed and didn’t push it at all, then at mile seven, I stayed at second place,” said Peralta, running for the first time in Miami. “I couldn’t see the winner. I was concentrating on my own race.”

“I think the half was fairly competitive,” said Suszek, who was trying to recover from the Olympic Marathon Trials held two weeks ago. “I was rolling along at that point, but basically my legs were just saying no and the rest of me was like, ‘go!’ I wasn’t on my A-game today, but the other two made it competitive.”

The race’s 25,000 runners marked an 18% increase from last year’s 21,116 participants. Entrants came from all 50 states and from 79 countries.

“Twenty-five thousand was a manageable goal,” said race director David Scott. “We wanted to manage the growth of the event. There are so many logistics that go into an event of this size. We want to make sure that as we grow the quality of the event is not compromised.”

More than 6,000 runners participated in the marathon, with 19,000 lining up for the half-marathon.

10th ING Miami Marathon
Miami, FL, Sunday, January 29, 2012

1) Samuel Malakwen (KEN), 2:16:55, $2000
2) Teferi Bacha (ETH), 2:16:55, $1000
3) Benazzouz Slimani (ITA), 2:19:48, $500

1) Maria Maraviglia (ARG), 2:41:39, $2000
2) Wioletta Kryza (POL), 2:45:32, $1000
3) Alena Vinitskaya (BLR), 2:45:47, $500

10th ING Miami Half Marathon
1) James Boitt (KEN), 1:06:41, $1000
2) Harbert Okuti (UGA), 1:07:29
3) Franklin Tenorio, 42, ECU / CO, 1:09:38

1) Lilian Mariita (KEN), 1:16:04, $1000
2) Maria De Los Angeles Peralta (ARG), 1:17:52
3) Michele Suszek (USA / CO), 1:21:29

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