Kenya’s Edward Korir ended Jesus Campos’ reign in the Two Cities Marathon & Half on Sunday, beating the four-time defending champion by a little more than two minutes.
The 35-year-old Korir crossed the finish line at Woodward Park in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 11 seconds, a pace of 5:39 per mile. Campos finished second in 2:30:55, 85 seconds slower than his time last year. In third was Hayward’s Ivan Medina at 2:33:22.
“It was slow at the beginning,” Korir said. He ran the first 13.1 miles in 1:14, then put the heat on. “I started running fuller steps and increased pace and increased pace,” Korir said. “That’s when the others started to fall back.”
Nearly 3,000 runners welcomed the brisk, 45-degree weather Sunday morning as spectators lined the course in north Fresno and Clovis for the 14th annual event that features the marathon and includes shorter races and even a walk.
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Leading the way were the stars. At mile 16, Korir and Medina were running step-for-step with Campos a few seconds behind. Campos gained ground but was hindered by stomach cramps at miles 18 and 21, the latter forcing him to stop for 30 seconds before finishing the remaining 5.2 miles.
Fresno’s Molly Friel, 47, was the fastest woman with a time of 2:54:39, good for eighth overall in the full-marathon field of 340 runners. Jessica Douglas took second (14th overall, 2:59:39) and Beneke Krystine was third (16th, 3:07:15).
In the Clovis half-marathon, it was female elite runner Polina Carlson of Hawaii who led the race field for most of the 13.1-mile course until Selma’s Martin Ramirez passed her in the final stretch into Woodward Park to finish first in 1:16:38. Carlson, running in her first Two Cities Marathon & Half, finished in 1:16:49, a pace of 5:52 per mile to lead the women’s field of 795 runners.
Carlson stood out at the start, heading to the 7:15 a.m. start wearing only a two-piece, skintight running suit, a pair of gloves and ear muffs (both she would later ditch on the course).
“The weather is too warm in Hawaii,” said Carlson, who is qualified to run in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials after finishing seventh at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, with a time of 2:38:15.
“This is perfect (weather). After four or five minutes your body feels fine and the less you have on the faster you can move,” she said. “It was a really nice race, the people are fun and I hope to come back to Fresno.”
In the Fresno half-marathon, Turlock’s Taylor Whiteside, 25, ran the fastest time at 1:16:25, a pace of 5:51 per mile. Nathan Brosius, 37, of Chico, and Selma’s Santiago Tenorio finished second (1:19:32) and third (1:20:13).
Denver’s Judy Beckenbach was the fastest woman at 1:29:25 with Fresno’s Norma Wendels taking second at 1:29:52.
Fresnan Jared Garcia won the first 5K Fun Run at Two Cities with a time of 22:19. Brian Carnahan of San Francisco was second in 22:59. Marissa McPhail of Fresno ran 23:07 to win the women’s race. Fresno 16-year-old Maddie Ginier finished two seconds behind McPhail for second place.
Arturo Arias was the quickest in the Fresno half walk, finishing the 13.1 miles in 1:57:24, a pace of 8:58 per mile. Barbara Etcheverry was the fastest woman with a time of 2:22:29.
A total of 2,903 runners ran in the 2014 Two Cities Marathon, with the biggest field (1,244) racing in the Clovis half.
Each male and female overall winner in the marathon won $1,500. Each male and female overall half-marathon winner won $500.
There were no serious injuries reported at Sunday’s event, race director Aaron Samansky said. All streets and roads that were closed for the marathon were reopened by 1 p.m.
See results on the event webpage.