Derese Deniboba of Ethiopia takes a breath of relief after crossing the finish line of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. Deniboba finished in 1:02:19 and was one of eight runners to break the course record of 1:04:19, set in 2002. (Clint Austin / [email protected])
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Cool, wet weather might not be optimum for watching distance running, but the elite men’s runners in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon found the conditions perfect for setting a course record.
Derese Deniboba, 28, of Ethiopia outkicked countryman Tesfaye Alemayehu, 27, down the stretch Saturday to win the men’s race in a course-record 1 hour, 2 minutes, 19 seconds. Deniboba, who resides in the Bronx, survived a three-man battle that included Fernando Cabada of Boulder, Colo.
The top eight finishers broke the previous course record of 1:04:19, set by Ryan Meissen in 2002.
Deniboba, who was third in the Garry Bjorklund last year in 1:04:55, broke his personal half-marathon best of 1:03:16 run in the 2008 Austin Half Marathon.
“It was a very, very good race,” Deniboba said through a translator. “My speed is better. It’s a race, so I had to beat (Alemayehu).”
Deniboba, who is training for the New York City Half Marathon next month, overtook Alemayehu on the final curve entering Canal Park and won by 3 seconds.
“He had a little bit more than me (at the finish),” Alemayehu, who lives in Antioch, Calif., said via a translator.
Alemayehu, who won the Miami Marathon earlier this year and was second two weeks ago at a marathon in San Diego, had run 1:01:36 at the 2007 Reims (France) Half Marathon.
Cabada, who won the 25K at the recent U.S. Championships and was sixth here a year ago, finished 13 seconds behind the winner after leading the race at the halfway point.
Stephen Muange of Kenya placed fourth in 1:03:04, more than a minute better than his winning time a year ago despite being bothered the last two months by what he described as muscle gangrene in the back of his right leg.
Muange, who fell behind the main pack around
10 miles, says he will return to Duluth despite the discomfort.
“I will be back,” he said with a smile. “Why would I give up running?”
MCGREGOR TURNS FROM SPECTATOR TO WINNER
Katie McGregor has been coming to Duluth from her home in Savage, Minn., for nearly 10 years to cheer on Grandma’s runners.
This time, spectators were cheering her on.
McGregor, 33, won the women’s half-marathon in 1:13:18, nearly 3 minutes better than runner-up Kimberly Robinson of Bloomington, Minn.
“I come up here every year and cheer on the racers and have fun,” said McGregor, who was running the race for the first time. “It was awesome to actually run the race this year.”
McGregor didn’t enter until midweek, when she contacted race director Scott Keenan. She usually runs in the USA Track and Field nationals in Oregon, which are held the week after Grandma’s.
“It’s hard because it butts up against other events,” said McGregor, who typically runs the 10,000 meters at the national meet.
McGregor, who hails from Willoughby, Ohio, and attended the University of Michigan, counts U.S.
25-kilometer championships in 2007 and 2010 and three national 10K titles on her resume. She’s run in the Olympic Trials, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Sydney and Athens games.
She ran alone for most of Saturday’s race, unaffected by wind and wet conditions.
“It wasn’t bad,” she said. “The wind was at our back, not against us, and the rain let up. It was actually a decent day for the runners.”