Editor's note: Kim Tuhro's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
Valuable minutes were passing by and Susan Tanui’s search for a parking spot in downtown Wichita grew frantic.
The street her phone’s GPS system instructed her to take was temporarily closed for the Prairie Fire half-marathon, the race Tanui had driven two hours from Junction City to try to win that was now beginning without her.
She heard the screams from the start line, which was over a half-mile away from where she finally parked. So Tanui ran. She ran to the start line and explained her ordeal to race officials, who agreed to let the 28-year-old specialist in the United States Army to start the race a little over six minutes after the gun had sounded.
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And Tanui kept running until she had covered the 13.1-mile course in the fastest time of any female on Sunday morning in one hour, 22 minutes, 28 seconds. The last person to start the race had been the fastest.
But because USATF only recognizes gun times, Tanui’s time was recorded at 1:28:42 — with the six minutes and 14 seconds tacked on. Kim Tuhro, who actually crossed the finish line first in a time of 1:26:21, was the race’s winner.
“Giving up was the last option,” Tanui said. “Even though I started late, that didn’t matter. What mattered was finishing and having the courage to race. I didn’t want to give up and go back to Junction City.”
There were no hard feelings between the runners, who had become friends last year after they had met at a race. Tuhro found out what had happened to Tanui after the race and the pair spent 20 minutes laughing and catching up with each other.
“I’m pleased, for my sake, that she didn’t come less than four minutes late,” Tuhro joked. “(Tanui) is amazing. I really do admire her and fear her, I will admit. She is such a good runner.”
Prairie Fire race director Trevor Darmstetter said that Sunday was a rare instance where there was a significant amount of time lapsed between the gun time and the start time for a competitor.
Even though Tanui ran the fastest time, no one disputed that Tuhro had won the race.
“You have to go off the gun time to keep the true spirit of a race,” Darmstetter said. “If someone starts five seconds behind me, but I edge them out at the finish line then the win still goes to the first across the finish line, regardless if it was a second or a minute or a hour.”
Tuhro’s time would have likely been faster if she had Tanui pushing her throughout the race. Instead, the 33-year-old from Wichita spent most of the final seven miles running with no one in sight.
After starting out on a pace that could have potentially been one of the fastest half-marathon times in state history, Tuhro’s pace dropped with the competition in the second-half of the race.
“I was kind of disappointed with my overall time because the first half was a lot faster,” Tuhro said. “I really enjoyed the first four or five miles when it was me and a few other girls, but it was really tough running by myself for that long. Apparently I wasn’t pushing myself quite as hard as I thought I was.”
But that didn’t stop her from being thrilled with her first half-marathon victory. Tuhro has become one of Wichita’s top runners in the 5- and 10-kilometer races, but decided to up her mileage and try to take on a longer race.
Winning has inspired her to now include the half-marathon in her rotation of races.
“I do want to do more half-marathons now,” Tuhro said. “It was really exciting winning. That was the first race tape that I’ve broke. I think I would like to keep doing 5k’s and 10k’s and half’s, keep doing all of those distances.”
For Tanui, who finished second officially among females, Sunday’s race wasn’t a win but it sure felt like one to her afterward — for different reasons.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get first anyway, so I just wanted to run,” Tanui said. “It was just me out there running against myself. I wanted to keep pushing and keep running stronger. I was happy with how it went.”
Kosgei goes back-to-back — The Prairie Fire Marathon race series has never had a three-time champion.
Samuel Kosgei wants to change that. The 30-year-old from Junction City won his second consecutive spring half-marathon on Sunday, this time in runaway fashion with a time of one hour, 12 minutes, 23 seconds — nearly five minutes faster than the field.
Kosgei is a combat medic in the United States Army stationed in Fort Riley, but loves making the drive down to Wichita to compete. After winning on Sunday, he was already talking about returning in search of a three-peat.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Kosgei said. “I would like to do the fall (marathon), but my military schedule doesn’t give me the time. So I have to win the spring one again. I feel like Wichita is my hometown, even though I’m from Junction City. I felt like I had to win in front of the home crowd.”
Sunday was just the latest win in a spring of them since Kosgei began racing competitively two years ago. In that short span, he has compiled a resume that makes him arguably the fastest marathon runner in Kansas.
He believes he is capable of running below 1:08:00, which would be one of the fastest half-marathon times in state history. But the right circumstances -- triple-digit temperatures last year and the lack of a challenger this year -- haven’t come about yet.
Andover’s Michael Just, a 22-year-old, was runner-up in 1:17:19 and Park City’s Andrew Bird was third in 1:21:53.
“That was a little bit tough, but sometimes you have to train to run by yourself,” Kosgei said. “That wasn’t the time I was expecting, it’s wasn’t too fast. But it was a decent time since I was running by myself.”
Kosgei used Sunday’s race in part of his training for the CISM World Summer Games, essentially the military version of the Olympics. He qualified for the United States by winning the Marine Corps Marathon last October and will compete in Korea this October.
5K winners — Thomas O’Connell, a former state champion runner and 2008 Andover graduate, won the men’s 5-kilometer race in a time of 16 minutes, 4 seconds. No one could keep up with O’Connell, who ran by himself for the majority of the race and finished more than a minute and a half ahead of the next competitor.
Tammy Ritchie has carved out a reputation as one of the top female 5k runners in the area and collected another title on Sunday. It was far from her best time, but the 42-year-old Wichitan’s winning time of 20 minutes, 22 seconds was nearly three minutes faster than second place.
Other notable finishes — Auggie Iseman, a 13-year-old from Wichita, ran the second-fastest time in Kansas history for a 13-year-old at 1:29:38... Keith Long, a 57-year-old from Beaumont, nearly matched his state-record time in the 55-59 age division on Sunday with his time of 1:22:15 to win the age-graded masters... Dale Bing, a 62-year-old from Wichita, was just over a minute off lifetime best, which ranks second all-time in the 60-64 age division, with his time of 1:30:22... Beth Rogers, a 70-year-old Wichitan, recorded the third-fastest time in Kansas history in the 70-74 division with her time of 2:18:33... Sheryl Drevo, from Goddard, owns the fastest 5-kilometer time in the state in the 70-74 age division and was 22 seconds off that pace on Sunday with her time of 26:56 at age 70.