Duluth – For Pasca Myers to claim her first marathon win, she had to change her tactics.
Throughout her career, the 27-year-old Kenyan had found the rush at the start of a race irresistible, often breaking her pace to catch those runners that took the lead first.
This time, spurred by a conversation with her closest confidants, Myers changed her approach.
It paid off. Myers came from behind dramatically down the stretch and won the 38th annual Grandma's Marathon on Saturday in 2 hours and 33:43 minutes.
"Usually I'm a faster starter — I like going ahead, I get carried away," said Myers, a part-time student at Iowa Central Community College studying nursing. "But this time, my coach and my husband told me just believe in yourself, you can do it if you give your best."
So Myers watched as Almaz Negede bolted for a 34-second lead just past Knife River, with gentle winds rolling off Lake Superior. She waited as her competitor bolstered that lead, pushing the separation to 1:47 at the halfway point while she fell back in the pack, the frontrunners bending out of view and disappearing into the fog.
Slowly but surely, the leaders began to fall off as Myers passed them. Around mile 21, both Myers and Sarah Kiptoo, who set the course record last year, caught Negede, whose early sprint had faded after she couldn't locate her first two water bottles. Myers and Kiptoo ran together for two miles, and then the former saw her chance. She pushed her lead out to see if Kiptoo would follow.
"Then I could see she was strong," Kiptoo said. "She just passed and she was going."
Kenyans rule half marathon
Julius Koskei (1:03:36) and Cynthia Limo (1:09:50) cruised to victories in the men's and women's half-marathon races, each taking early leads and holding them to claim $3,000 prizes.
Koskei, a 32-year-old native of Kenya, broke away from the pack after about six miles and with no one challenging, built a strong lead.
"I probably let him get away a little too soon," said 27-year-old Tim Young, of Virginia. "I thought it was one of those test-the-group-out-and-see-who-goes. And it wasn't. It was his move to the finish."
Still, Koskei couldn't help but peak over his shoulder every several miles. He was looking to see that the same distance remained and searching, in particular, for third-place finisher Fernando Cabada, who had outkicked him in previous races.
"I have run with Cabada for several races," Koskei said. "The kick for me, it bit me in the head, so I knew he was very strong."
Instead, Koskei won this time, just over six minutes before Limo beat out fellow Kenyan Caroline Rotich, who won the race in 2010.
Limo pulled ahead by 10 seconds after 6.9 miles and finished 1:13 ahead of Rotich.
"I didn't know if I could win it but I had to have faith and I had to fight for it," Limo said. "Now I'm really happy."
• Gyudae Kim of South Korea, became the first non-repeat male winner of the wheelchair marathon in five years on Saturday, with a time of 1:36.11 to best previous winner (2007) Rafael Jiminez by three seconds. … Susannah Scaroni of Urbana, Ill., dominated the three-person female field, winning in 2:02:53.
• According to Dr. Ben Nelson, the marathon medical director, 198 people visited the medical tent on Saturday. Ten were sent to the hospital either due to nausea, extreme weakness or failure to recover, but none were deemed seriously ill.