Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kiprotich smashes GO! marathon mark, Ray wins women's race

No one celebrated victory better than Autumn Ray, who set a PR of 2:51:28 in the women's marathon,the fifth victory of her career at the distance. Kathleen Nelson photo
The elite runners in the half-marathon field obliterated the course records. Equally impressive, though, was the performance of Geoffrey Kiprotich, who set a record of 2:20:00 in winning the marathon. Kiprotich, a native of Kenya who lives in Toledo, Ohio, took almost four minutes off Zac Freudenburg's 2:23:37, set in 2009.

Fellow Kenyan Mark Chepses was second in 2:20:49, with 2010 half winner Mario Macias in third at 2:21:59. As in the half, a critical mass of talented runners helped each to improve his performance.



Geoffrey Kiprotich
"We ran as a group for 22 miles," Kiprotich said. "Then I decided it was time to motor."

Kiprotich dropped Macias a mile later and got ride of Chepses a mile after that.
Kiprotich said he had been running in the States off and on since 2008 but that the victory was his first since returning from Kenya about a year ago.

Unlike the other winners, Autumn Ray ran alone for most of the 26.2 miles, but that didn't stop her from setting a PR of 2:51:28 in winning her fifth marathon. Ray is finishing up her residency at University Hospital in Tuscon, Ariz., and did not run competitively in high school or college because "nobody thought I was fast enough."

Apparently, she has become an excellent time manager. She runs 65 miles a week, modest by the standards of the folks who typically have won multiple marathons. With her residency ending in three weeks, she knew exactly how much extra time she would have on her hands: 80 hours a week. Some of those, she said, will be devoted to extra miles, in the hope of bringing down her PR.

Ray said that a friend had run in St. Louis a couple years ago and had warned her of the hills but that she ended up here because it fit into her assigned vacation slot.

"I knew about the hills," she said. "I train on some pretty good hills, and the heat was no problem."

Tia Acetta, also of Tucson, was second in 2:54:49, followed by Karen Meraw of Detroit in 2:55:22.
"We started together and stayed together for the first four miles or so," Meraw said. "Then she was flying, and there was no way I could keep up with her."

Zachary Young of Jackson, Mo., won the wheelchair division in 2:23:46.

And the GO! St. Louis organizers took a novel approach to one of the most annoying sections of the course, designating it Holy Hill and offering separate prizes for the fastest up the beast. So, congratulations are due to  Kiprotich and Ray for being the fastest marathoners, Michael Aitken and Amanda Bruns for leading the half-marathoners.

About 14,000 runners and walkers were entered in the endurance events Sunday: the marathon, half-marathon and marathon relay.