MIAMI (Jan. 27, 2013) – Running the first marathon of his life, Guatemalan Luis Rivero Gonzalez won the 2013 ING Miami Marathon Sunday by separating himself quickly from the field and never looking back.
Rivero finished in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 14 seconds on a South Florida morning that alternated between humid and brisk, playing mind games with the 25,000 runners who participated in South Florida’s largest running event.
“It felt great to be able to represent my country and win this marathon for them,” Rivero Gonzalez said. “I had great expectations to win this race. This is what I trained for.”
The 26-year-old was two minutes faster than David Tuwei (2:28:15) and Tesfaye Bekele (2:28:22), who were among a group of five runners who ran together for nearly the entire race.
Mariska Kramer, 38, of the Netherlands won the 2013 women’s marathon title in 2:46:07 while Ethiopian Tezata Dengersa, 32, was second in 2:48:43 and Brooklyn, NY resident Kir Selert, 25, was third in 2:57:32.
The highlight of the day came when Risper Gesabwa and Moroccan Malika Mejdoub Camacho both shattered the 10-year old course record for the women in the half-marathon. Gesabwa finished in 1:14:00, 14 seconds faster than Mejdoub Camacho and 1:05 better than the old record of 1:15:05.
Robert Mbithi, 23, blew away the men’s field in the half-marathon with the fourth fastest time (1:05:44) in the 11-year history of the event.
The sellout field of 25,000 runners traveled from downtown Miami’s Biscayne Blvd. over the MacArthur Causeway to South Beach, through the Venetian Islands, Arts District, Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, Brickell Avenue and then finished in front of Bayfront Park.
Having never run 26.2 miles in one run in his life didn’t worry Rivero Gonzalez.
“Since it was my first marathon, I went all-out from the very start like if I was running one of my 21-kilometer races,” said Rivero Gonzalez, who earned his law degree from Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala this past November.
“As the race went on, I continued to feel strong. I never saw any of the other marathon runners in front of me, only half-marathon runners.”
It was the best performance of his running career.
“I look at this as one of the many things I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish in my life,” he said, “but there’s certainly a special place in my heart for winning this race.”
While Rivero Gonzalez never was challenged, the race for second and third came down to the final 15 meters between Tuwei and Bekele.
“Me and him were running together after I couldn’t see [Rivero Gonzalez] anymore,” Tuwei said. “We fought neck-and-neck for most of the race, and it was decided in the last 15 meters.”
Sunday’s race was the third full marathon Tuwei has run this month. The Coon Rapids, Minn. resident was trying to better his 2011 ING Miami Marathon fourth-place finish.
“I improved my position [this year] – that’s good,” Tuwei says. “I went from fourth to second, and maybe next year I can win.”
Bekele was happy with his finish.
“No one saw the leader,” he said. “But for 25 miles there were five of us fighting each other. We were battling the last mile.”
For Kramer, the women’s champion, the marathon win almost didn’t happen. She decided Saturday she’d switch from the half-marathon to the full race.
“My coach thought I was crazy when I said I would do that,” she said.
Kramer instead spent a lot of time running with race winner Rivero Gonzalez, but she said that he eventually pulled away and she was left to run the final two miles alone.
“I normally run alone so I can handle that,” she said. “But there were so many other people cheering. It was fun.
“It was a nice, long run for me in a beautiful city, in the sunshine, and in the warmth. It’s so cold in the Netherlands. I totally enjoyed it.”
Dengersa, the 2011 ING Miami Marathon third-place medalist who improved to second this year, ran the first 16 miles with Kramer before falling victim to the fluctuating humidity and an old injury that came into play.
“It’s been snowing in Maryland where I’ve been training,” she said. “I had a tough time adjusting. At mile 16 she (Kramer) started going faster and then my leg started bothering me. When I tried to go faster, it tightened.”
Mbithi, 23,was excited about his dominant performance in the Half Marathon.
“I’m upbeat. I’m very upbeat to win the race,” said Mbithi, who hopes to one day compete in the Olympics. “I figured to win this race. I felt I could win.”
He couldn’t wait to call his family in Kenya – two parents, six sisters and one brother – to let them know about his first-place finish.
“I call them [regularly],” Mbithi said. “They are very upbeat, encourage me.”
Mbithi finished nearly five minutes ahead of second-place finisher Danilo Briceno, 31, of Venezuela and third-place finisher Leo Kormanik II, 30, of Northfield, Ohio.
Caracas resident Briceno, who was making his first visit to the United States, was shocked at his unexpected second-place finish.
“I am very excited and happy,” said Briceno, who works at a car dealership. “This is my first time in the country. I didn’t have any expectations. I feel very good about placing second and I had a great time today.”
Kormanik, who works as a Cleveland chiropractor, didn’t start near with the top runners, but had to pass his way to the front of the field.
“I moved way up,” he says. “I played it conservative…I just kind of waited back and picked off some numbers. I don’t think one person passed me. I think I just kept passing people.”
With such a busy schedule, Kormanik finds it hard to devote much time to training.
“I opened up my own business just last year, and ever since then it’s just been very hard to get training in,” he said. “But it’s a hobby for me to come to places like this and support great races.”
Despite leading the entire route in the women’s Half Marathon, the 23-year-old Gesabwa could feel Mejdoub Camacho’s presence throughout the race.
“I knew she was strong,” Gesabwa said. “Knowing she was behind me, knowing she was near me pushed me to keep going and stay in front.
“I liked [my experience] so much, and I will return to defend my championship.”
Mejdoub Camacho, 30, felt she could have done better Sunday.
“I was coming with the idea of winning the race,” she said of her first race this year. “I didn’t feel 100 percent ready, but it was a good race.”
The first participant to cross the ING Miami Marathon finish line Sunday was Hector Mariano Santos, 29, a push-rim wheelchair athlete from Sao Paulo, Brazil who was first in his half-marathon division with a time of 55:39.57.
“I’m very happy to win the race,” said Santos, who’s participating in the event for the third consecutive year. “The first time I placed fourth, the second time second, and this third time I placed first. I’m very pleased with the result to be able to win the Marathon.”
Tony Baltodano, participating in his fifth Miami Marathon, was the handcycle winner in the half-marathon. The 43-year-old recent Florida International graduate was surprised at his result in his first half-marathon.
“I came in with a shoulder problem and just wanted to enjoy the moment,” he said. “I was surprised I came in first because I did it just to have fun.”
Achilles International ‘s Leonardo Varon, who was visiting the United States for only the second time, won the handcycle division in the full marathon.
The 33-year old was paralyzed in a land mine accident while he was a corporal in Colombia’s Army three years ago, and it took only two handcycling events for him to win his first marathon.
“The route was fast, and was beautiful,” Varon said. “It was good competition. It was exciting for me.”
With the2012 ING Miami Marathon generating more than $52 million in total economic impact, race organizers predicted huge numbers again for the three-day event.
In addition to Sunday’s marathon and half-marathon, the event boasts one of the largest health and fitness expos in the region that drew more than 40,000 visitors and participants to the Miami Beach Convention Center. A Saturday morning 5K enjoyed a sold-out field of 2,500 runners as a warm up to Sunday’s big races.
Race Director Dave Scott was pleased with the weekend.
“I’m really excited about the international influx of runners,” he said. “There were runners from 79 countries, including every country in South America, and every state.
“The whole week has been tremendous. It was a Chamber of Commerce kind of weekend as far as the weather goes.”
ING Miami Marathon
Miami, Fl., Sunday, Jan. 27
1) Luis Rivero Gonzalez, Guatemala, 2:26:14, $2,000
2) David Tuwei, Coon Rapids, 2:28:15, $1,000
3) Tesfaye Girma Bekele, Fayetteville Ellicott City, 2:28:21, $500
4) Girma Assefa Gudeta, Addis Ababa, 2:28:37
5) Alberico Di Cecco, Pescara Abruzzo, 2:28:40
6) Eyob Woldegeiorgis, Fayetteville, 2:28:45
7) Christopher Carrier, Long Island City, 2:31:04
8) Mynor Lopez Aguilon, Guatemala, 2:34:39
9) Nicolas Santos,Bogota, 2:39:41
10) Cristian Arg Ello, San Jose, 2:40:46
1) Mariska Kramer, Drachten Friesland, 2:46:07, $2,000
2) Tezata Desaign Dengersa, Ellicott City, 2:48:43, $1,000
3) Kir Selert, Brooklyn, 2:57:31, $500
4) Alyson Venti, Miami, 3:00:12
5) Ngela Brito, Guayaquil, 3:01:01
6) Loni Smith, Lakeland, 3:02:39
7) Kelly Willis, Atlanta, 3:09:15
8) Bouchra Franz, Miami Shores, 3:11:30
9) Maria Virasoro, Mar Del Plata, 3:13:01
10) Karen Sobrino, St Gallen, 3:14:02
11th ING Miami Half Marathon
1) Robert Mbithi, Coon Rapids, 1:05:44, $1,000
2) Danilo Briceno, Caracas, 1:10:41
3) Leo Kormanik Ii, Northfield, 1:10:57
4) Fornes Jose, Pe Uelas, 1:11:04
5) Mauricio Cruz, Mexico, 1:11:38
6) Ryan Carroll, Portsmouth, 1:12:55
7) Jon Volpi, Melbourne, 1:13:11
8) Eduin Duval Cruz, Santo Domingo, 1:13:36
9) Aubrey Aldy III, Naples, 1:13:53
10) Frank Bobadilla- Polanco, Santo Domingo, 1:14:26
1) Risper Gesabwa, Marietta, 1:14:00, $1,000
2) Malika Mejdoub Camacho, Albuquerque, 1:14:14
3) Bertha Oliva Rivera, Sevilla Valle, 1:18:35
4) Angela Cobb Melbourne, 1:20:36
5) Angie Orjuela, Bogota Calle, 1:21:16
6) Norma Rodriguez Rodriguez, Santa Gertrudis, 1:22:36
7) Lindsay Willard, Somerville, 1:23:24
8) Paola Reategui, Miami, 1:25:06
9) Cynthia Jerop, Coon Rapids, 1:25:08
10) Natalie Brabner, Miami, 1:27:13