Marathon notebook: Kenyans take top half-marathon spots
Kimutai Cheruiyot won his first Pittsburgh Half-Marathon in 1 hour, 3 minutes, 16 seconds, beating fellow Kenyan Julius Kogo by three seconds. Kogo set the race record two years ago in 1:02:32.
Cheruiyot, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and finished second in the EQT 10-miler in November, described the experience as “cool.”
“I am very happy,” he said, adding that he was “expecting to come and win.”
Two Kenyans also ran 1-2 in the women’s half-marathon, with Susan Jerotich running a 1:13:25 and Hellen Jemutai finishing 10 seconds later.
The (bad) road to victory
Famed handcyclist Carlos Moleda conquered the field and bad roads to win his first crack at the Pittsburgh Marathon.
Moleda, who lives in Bluffton, S.C., lost his lead at the five-mile mark to a flat tire. But the tire was quickly replaced, and Moleda overtook the several cyclists who had passed him. His winning time was 1:23:13.
Moleda pronounced the course as “good” despite the numerous potholes his escort navigated him around.
“Man, the roads are bad,” he said.
Moleda, 52, who has won two national championships and four Ironman challenges, is a Navy SEAL veteran who was shot and paralyzed during a firefight when U.S. forces toppled the regime of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega in 1989.
The one from North Dakota
As race day drew near, organizers had representatives from every state except North Dakota. To find that one runner who would give them all 50, Visit Pittsburgh sponsored a contest to “Put North Dakota on the Pittsburgh Marathon Map” with the winner receiving round-trip airfare, two nights lodging and race registration. That winner, selected April 20, was Jeff Turning Heart, a 31-year-old from Washburn, N.D.
“I figured why not (enter),” said Turning Heart, who ran the half-marathon and finished in 2:37:46. “I got an email saying I won, and I was really shocked.”
Turning Heart grew up on a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe reservation in South Dakota. When he learned he was coming to Pittsburgh, he had a special shirt made with his tribal flag on the back and a patch for South Dakota on one sleeve and North Dakota on the other.
Couldn’t reel them in
Former Penn State All-American Tyler McCandless was hoping to win the Pittsburgh Marathon, but had to settle for fourth and being the top American male. McCandless, who lives in Boulder, Colo., but is from Northampton, said the leaders took off at a fast pace beginning at Mile 2.
“I was like, ‘This is fine. I’ll reel them back in,’ ” said McCandless, 28. “The problem was that at Mile 10 or 11, they already had a good 90 seconds or more on me and then I was alone, so I didn’t have anyone to work with. I never got close enough to feel like I was reeling them in and get that shot of mojo, so they just kind of crept away. I could see the press truck getting further and further in the distance, so it was pretty tough.”
Good end to a bad week
Leading up to her first half-marathon, Renee Minnemeyer-Climo tripped on a branch during a 5K run two weeks ago and separated her left shoulder and sprained her AC joint. A doctor told her not to run and recommended to avoid even walking in the race.
On Tuesday, her cat, Schmucky, was put down after suffering from cancer. Minnemeyer-Climo said she was devastated.
But Minnemeyer-Climo, 42, can deal with adversity. Diagnosed with AML Leukemia at 13, she survived after spending four months at Children’s Hospital and going through two years of chemotherapy. The experimental treatment caused a fungus that resulted in having a section of her brain removed.
Representing the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, she ran and completed the half-marathon. A novice at running, she said she was inspired by a friend who ran last year on her behalf.
“I thought if she could do it for me, why can’t I do it for myself,” said Minnemeyer-Climo, from White Township. “I was not tired, not out of breath. I’m amazed.”