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Marathon notes (Oct. 10)

  • Published Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, at 12:07 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, at 9:47 a.m.

No 5K winner

The pace bicyclist for the five-kilometer race accidentally took a wrong turn, sending many runners in the wrong direction and extending the race. A marker for the race directed runners to remain on Douglas instead of turning onto Main.

The mistake made the race results unsanctioned, according to Greater Wichita Sports Commission Director Bob Hanson, and left no winner of the $125 prize money.

"Whatever time they ran is the time they had," Hanson said. "It's unfortunate, but we're just trying to do the best thing.

Hanson said the money will be carried over to next year's race, where the winner will get $250.

"It was a mistake by the pace bike," Hanson said. "It wasn't the runners' fault."

Late arrival wins half-marathon

Benson Chesang didn't get to the starting line in time for Sunday's half-marathon until after the race had started. That only affected his winning time.

Chesang caught up to the other runners and quickly passed them to win the 13.1-mile race.

"Everbody was gone so I just jumped in and started running," Chesang said. "I just kept running and running until I caught up with everybody. Then I passed them and just kept running. I wasn't thinking about the time, I was just thinking about running the race. I drove like three hours for the race, so it would have been a waste of time to come and go back without running."

Chesang lives in Lawrence and is originally from Kenya. He said he is not yet ready for a full marathon, but it's easy to argue that point when he gives his training schedule.

"I go out there and at least run 10 miles every day," Chesang said. "Ten miles on a good day, maybe eight, and then on Sunday I'll do my long run, maybe 15, 16 miles. It depends."

Chesang won a half-marathon in Grand Island, Neb., last month. He seems to have mastered the shorter course and 26.2 miles is just barely in his sights.

"If I keep running, the next two years I'll be running a marathon," Chesang said. "(Winning one) would be a good thing, but I don't know. There's a lot of people running out there. It's something you have to be ready for."

Can't keep him down

As Tony Lubbers was approaching the finish line for his half-marathon, a runner who was behind him began to sprint. Lubbers sprinted, too, hoping to hold off his competitor. But before he could cross the finish line, Lubbers fell down.

He wasn't badly injured, but Lubbers bled from his right hand and right elbow, where he hit the pavement. He got up and walked across to finish the race, and while he wasn't yet ready to laugh about it, he recognized how the ending could add spice to the story.

"I've always believed in finishing strong," Lubbers said. "When that guy passed me, I was like, 'Oh, no,' so I kicked it up higher. But I was cramping on McLean, so I didn't think I had it in me. When you want to finish, you don't want somebody passing you at the last minute. It's something else I can tell my grandkids. That's the first half I've ever run without stopping, so I'm proud of that."

Lubbers didn't stay down long, but he was assisted by medical workers after he crossed the finish line. His adrenaline was still high, so he didn't yet recognize his injuries.

"It's pretty much numb from the neck down, so I still don't feel it," Lubbers said. "I will, though. It's just when you run that far, you don't feel anything. So I don't feel this yet, but I'm sure I will."

Quality victory

All of Tonya Nero's training was geared toward running a time around 1 hour, 15 minutes in the half-marathon.

The recent Wichita State graduate did just that, crossing the finish line as the first women in a time of 1:15:42. She knocked off a pair of Olympic Trial qualifiers in Camille Herron (1:17:13), of Warr Acres, Okla., and Pretty Prairie's Raquel Stucky (1:18:42).

"I'm happy with it," Nero said. "It's what I was aiming for. I know I could do better, but it was what I was aiming for time-wise."

A fast pace was set at the start of the race, which Nero met to lead virtually from start to finish. But Nero thought she could have held off at the beginning.

"I learned from this race," Nero said. "I know next time how to go out and keep up my pace for the rest of the race. It was pretty tough to keep that pace. I was happy I won, but I know I can do better. It was a learning experience."

Stiles' comeback

It was a bleak outlook for Jackie Stiles' athletic career in 2002 when knee injuries forced her to retire from the WNBA.

"I was beat up for so many years after my surgeries, I couldn't even run a half-mile," Stiles said.

But Stiles recently picked up yoga and she credits it for resurrecting her athletic career. Now, the 32-year-old Claflin native has her sights set on the 2012 Olympic Trials. It's a lofty goal for someone who started training seriously three months ago, but it might be attainable considering her half-marathon race on Sunday.

Stiles finished fourth in the women's half-marathon in 1:21:27, which is just six minutes off from automatically qualifying for the Olympic Trials.

"It makes me so happy to have an athletic goal again," Stiles said. "I honestly thought my sports career was over in 2002. To get a second chance like this, it's a feeling I can't describe. I just appreciate it so much more every day that I get to run."

Training buddies

Some people had a training partner in preparation for the marathon, but 43-year-old Wichita native Michael Pope had a whole team.

Pope is the cross country coach at North High School and trained for the half-marathon race by running with his athletes. He finished in 1:21.29 for ninth place overall for the men and second in his age division.

"Usually what I'll do is run with the kids and get a lot of my miles in with them," Pope said. "Weekends after the meet I'll go out and try to get in a long run so I'll have the strength to run in this.

"My time was faster than it was last year and I'm a year older, so I'm pretty happy about that."

-- Jeffrey Lutz and Taylor Eldridge

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