Maiyo, Guangul claim MCM titles on a breezy morning
Cresting Reservoir Road, the lead pack at the Marine Corps Marathon looked more like a U.S. Army team training run. A brisk one -- they hit seven miles in 36:37, a 5:13 per mile average. Four Army specialists, and members of the branch’s World Class Athlete Program, ran together, with Capt. Ken Foster having just fallen behind.
More than 23, 510 people were chasing them, making the 37th Marine Corps Marathon the largest ever.
|Augusus Maiyo and Robert Cheseret at mile 16|
Seven miles later, the race was less cooperative. Augustus Maiyo was taking a risk leading fellow Army specialist Robert Cheseret with so much distance left, given the conditions. A lone guitarist strumming a soulful melody might have noticed the conditions and broke into Bob Segar’s “Against the Wind,” as Hurricane Sandy let the Washington area know she was on her way.
“We all wanted it to be a fair race,” Maiyo said of his debut marathon. “I wanted to run 2:15, so waiting and kicking wouldn’t work.”
Despite the headwind, Maiyo kept at it, and four miles later he broke away from Cheseret, right before looping past the Capitol.
The last six miles belonged to the Army specialist, who finished second a week before at the Army Ten-Miler. He looked back as he rounded a curve in the Pentagon parking lot and looked for Cheseret, but he wouldn’t see him. It wouldn’t be close. When Maiyo broke the tape in 2:20:20, Cheseret was 7:30 behind. Instead, it was Foster, who took his leave of the lead pack 19 miles prior, charging into second place in 2:22:39.
The five Army runners’ only plan was to try to stay together and run as close to 5:15 pace as they could for the first half and then leave each man for himself in the second. Maiyo and Cheseret more than held up their bargain at 13.1, averaging 5:10 pace to come through in 1:07:44, well off of Jeff Scuffins’ 2:14:01 record from 1987.
Maiyo, 29, didn’t have any particular plan to make a move, just to run hard as long as he could and let others fall off if they couldn’t handle the pace. Though he felt fine at mile 18, his shot at the record was slipping away, and five miles later he wondered what exactly he was doing still running.
“What did I get myself into?” he recalled asking himself. In the last few miles, he said, “I felt terrible. I just didn’t know what was coming.”
Now back in Colorado Springs, he plans to focus on the steeplechase, an event he pursued at the Olympic Track and Field Trials this past June and as an undergraduate at the University of Alabama. He may return to Washington for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. He and Cheseret, along with 12th place finisher Joseph Chirlee, are Kenyan-born American citizens serving in the U.S. Army.
Those three and Foster led the Army to a solid Armed Forces Marathon Championship over Navy, which was led by Lt. Patrick Fernandez at 2:25:29, and the Marine Corps, lead by Capt. Sean Barrett in 2:35:03.
An Experienced Women's Champion
With six marathons under her belt, women’s winner, 20-year-old Ethiopian Hirut Guangul was certainly more seasoned than Maiyo, and for that matter Erin Richard, whom she chased for 19 miles.
The three marathons she has run this month, however, kept her from taking the lead until that point. A calf injury suffered during the Des Moines Marathon, where her 2:35:49 left her 48 seconds behind winner Mary Akor, kept her under control as she cruised to a comparatively-slow 2:42:03. She had run 2:34:02 at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota Oct. 7.
“At mile 17 I felt very comfortable with myself [and] decided to go,” she said, according to an interpreter. “The pace wasn’t hard.”
|Erin Richard leads evenutual winner Hirut Guangul and Wayinshet Hailu in mile four.|
Richard (27) ended up third, behind another Ethiopian, Wayinshet Hailu (2:47:04). It was Richard’s third marathon, though a different breed. Her first, Houston in 2011, was a matter of getting the Olympic Trials qualifying standard, and her return to Houston for the trials was a whole different kind of race. At Marine Corps, she was trying to win. The goal had a lot of support from customers at Hansons Running Store in suburban Detroit, where she works as a member of the Hansons Brooks Distance Project, many of whom had run and loved the race.
“There were guys in front of me, so I wasn’t taking the wind, I wasn’t being stupid,” she said. “I just lost the lead and never got it back.
During the 2:48:11 she was racing, she thought about what each move would do to her hopes of winning.
“You try to settle into a pace, but then you think ‘maybe if I just go a little bit quicker on this mile, they’ll drop off and I’ll feel so much better because my confidence will be up,’” she said, “I kept telling myself, ‘don’t even start thinking about that, you’re not even halfway through the race yet.'”
Alexandria’s Kelly Devine thought she got a little aggressive around the halfway point, but felt that’s what she had to do to chase her 2:55 goal. She wound up in 13th place in 3:01:30.
“The marathon is rough,” she said. “It will tear you down, but that’s why I love it.”
Behind her, Stephanie Madia Mobley embraced the results of rebuilding her running after she tore it down herself to dedicate her time to graduate school in her hometown of Pittsburgh. A several-time All-American runner at Notre Dame, she gave Marine Corps a shot to support her friend, Capt. Mark Pfitzenmeyer.A few long runs over the summer helped her regain some endurance and confidence to come back to the sport.
She was happy with her 3:09:33 finish, helped along by a friend from her high school running days for part of the race.
Capt. Elissa Ballas (2:53:51) lead the Air Force team to the women’s Armed Forces Championship over Army, led by Capt. Nicole Solana (2:59:41) and the Marine Corps, led by Capt. Maureen Carr (3:11:55)
The accompanying 10k race was delayed by more than nine minutes when a suspicious package, which was later determined to be a piece of plastic, was discovered on the course and examined.
Contact Charlie Ban at email@example.com.