Finding the time necessary to train for a marathon was something Raquel Stucky had not been able to do for the past year.
Work, training for half-marathons, and taking care of her family had not presented arguably Wichita’s most decorated female runner much time to focus on taking down her next marathon.
“Life happens,” Stucky said.
But a rare break in that life recently came about and Stucky decided to take advantage by running in the Prairie Fire Marathon for the first time in five years on Sunday morning. It was worth the wait.
Stucky covered 26.2 miles on Sunday faster than any woman ever has in Kansas history, crushing the 32-year-old record set by Kathy Whitcomb in 1982 with the new standard of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 57 seconds — nearly four minutes faster.
When she committed to running the race, the record was what Stucky was after.
“The closer I got to race day, the better I felt about it,” the 39-year-old Stucky said. “It’s just one of those feelings you get when your body is ready for something. I certainly thought I was ready for it.”
The accomplishment becomes even more impressive when considering Stucky was running by herself for the majority of the race. It overshadowed Jordan Nelson, who was runner-up in 2:54:38, which is the fourth-fastest time registered in Kansas history and marked just the second time in state history two female runners have broken three hours in the same race.
Oklahoma native Camille Herron, an expected contender, felt her hamstring pull early in the race and decided to pull out of the race.
That left Stucky racing against herself and the clock. When she approached the finish line and could hear the race director calling out her time, Stucky knew history was imminent.
“As soon as I started hearing that, my emotions just kind of got going,” Stucky said. “Everybody knows what it takes to do this. It doesn’t matter if you run a 5-hour marathon or a world record marathon, everybody knows what it takes to do this.”
The performance was the talk of the day, leaving long-time race officials impressed by what was done.
“It was just awesome to watch,” race director Bob Hanson said. “That was just tremendous and I think we all knew she was capable of doing it, but we didn’t know if it was going to happen. For that time to stand for so long, and then to be broken, it really was remarkable.”
Stucky has accomplished so much in her career, from competing in the Olympic Trials to running in major events across the country, but almost all of her top performances came out-of-state.
To be part of Kansas history, finally, was a moment Stucky had been striving for.
“I’ve run faster than I did (Sunday), but I’ve never done it on a Kansas course,” Stucky said. “It means a little more because I grew up in Kansas. Why not have a Kansan try to shoot for the Kansas state record?”
Kenyan wins men’s marathon — The weather conditions, cool and in the 50s, were perfect for a runner to chase an elite time in the marathon, but the competition didn’t produce anyone capable of pushing Kenyan native Geoffrey Kiprotich.
He ran by himself for most of the race and finished first in an unofficial time of 2:29:24, but it was a time that Kiprotich was not pleased with afterward. Stanley Boen was runner-up, and Scott Downard was third.
“It’s so hard to run by yourself,” said Kiprotich, who has won several regional marathons. “There was no one in front of me and no one behind me, so that is why my time is so slow. It’s hard to keep your pace.”
Another record falls — For the second straight year, the men’s half-marathon produced the Kansas state record. This year it was Chris Burnett, a recent Wichita State graduate, who broke it with a time of 1:04:24, which was better than two minutes faster than the previous record.
Florence Mose won the women’s half-marathon race in 1:21:00.