The 38th running of the staging of the popular Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C. was almost called off while the federal government shutdown dragged on, but Girma Bedaba was certainly ready on Sunday.
The Ethiopian separated himself from his pursuers almost from the start en route to a 2:21:32 triumph. Alexandria's Patrick Fernandez, winner of the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in May, took second in 2:22:52.
Kelly Calway of Colorado was an easy winner on the women's side in 2:42:15 ahead of Virginia Beach's Gina Slaby (2:48:02). Calway, who took the lead around mile eight, said her duties as a U.S. Army captain compromised her training, and as a result, "I was hurting." She’s being deployed to Kuwait next week.
"It's the last thing I'm doing before shipping out," explained Calway, "so it means the world to win this race."
More than eight hours before the race in Arlington and Washington, the Marine Corps Marathon Forward was staged for the fifth year in a row in Afghanistan. More than 300 members of U.S. and coalition forces ran 26.2 miles at Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand Province.
Frankfurt ends in a sprint
With five entrants who've bettered 2:05:30, and a course record of 2:03:42 by Wilson Kipsang two years ago, Frankfurt officials anticipated something quicker than Vincent Kipruto's winning time of 2:06:15. Sometimes, quite literally, winds don’t swirl in the direction that race organizers hope.
But Frankfurt did get a tight men's race that came down to a final sprint inside the city's Festival Hall. That's where Kipruto, the 2011 world championships silver medalist, bettered Kenyan compatriot Mark Kiptoo (making his marathon debut at 37), by one second. Feyisa Lelisa, the Ethiopian who'd been second in the 2012 Chicago Marathon in 2:04:52, had back trouble and dropped out in the 23rd mile.
After a 1:11:20 opening half, Frankfurt ended up with five women under 2:24, led by Caroline Kilel’s 2:22:34, two seconds faster than her winning time in Boston in 2011. Flomena Chepchirchir of Kenya edged Ethiopia's Birhane Dibaba by one second for the runner-up spot in 2:23:00. Ethiopian track and cross country star Gelete Burka, who'd been with the lead pack at the midway point, faded to 12th in 2:30:40.