What a familiar way to start the racing day.
Coming down the hill to the finish line of the USA women's 10-mile championship race -- part of Sunday's Twin Cities Marathon series -- was Katie McGregor. Again.
McGregor, from St. Louis Park, won this race for the sixth time, meaning she has officially won half of the 12 such races from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul, though this was the first time she has won when the course was designated a national championship.
McGregor, 33, broke away from Renee Metivier Baillie with a little more than 1 1/2 miles left in the race to win in 54:21, 16 seconds ahead of Metivier Baillie. Both McGregor and Metivier Baillie finished more than a minute ahead of anyone else in the field.
"It is great to win here," said McGregor, who also won the 10-mile race in 2001, '02, '03, '05, and '06. "To run this race is always wonderful."
As this race was the USA women's 10-mile national championship, it also added another road racing title to McGregor's résumé this year. She had previously won the 15- and 25-kilometer titles. McGregor will run in the women's 10K championships in Boston Oct. 11, then the New York Marathon -- also the women's national championship -- on Nov. 7.
She and Metivier Baillie made it a two-woman race relatively early on. They ran together through about mile 5, when McGregor made her first move, building about a 20-meter cushion. But Metivier Baillie caught up at mile 7.
"Renee is a tough racer, she really ran well today," McGregor said. "I just kept trying to tell myself to stay calm. I was a little nervous today. It is a championship, and I was trying to represent for Minnesota. I was trying to hold on."
They ran together for about 1¼ miles before McGregor made her final move.
"She made her move and I didn't make it with her," Metivier Baillie said. "I kind of regret that now. Katie knows this course, and she was a pro out there. She made the moves at the right time. I just tried to hang in there, make it a race."
McGregor, who runs with Team USA Minnesota, wasn't thrilled about her time, but it was the second-fastest winning time she has posted in this race. "We went out easier," she said. "Today was more about racing than time."Another local winner
The men's 10-mile championship was also won by a local resident. Matt Downin, who recently moved to Edina from Oregon, won with a time of 50:43.
Downin moved to the front at about 3 miles, where he dueled with Jason Finch for a bit. Halfway through the race, Downin was in front for good. Former University of Minnesota athlete Justin Grunewald was second at 51:14. Finch (51:24) finished third.
Downin, 33, finished second in the 2008 San Antonio Rock 'N Roll half-marathon. He is back in top shape after a while spent doing other things. "I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year old," he said. "So the past couple years have been more focused on work and family."
Downin was using this race as a final tune-up for the New York Marathon Nov. 7.Familiar masters
Both winners of the USA masters marathon championship -- U.S. runners 40 or over -- were very familiar.
Mbarek Hussein of Albuquerque, N.M., won the back-to-back open division titles in 2005 and 2006. Sunday he won the masters men in 2:16:58, which was also good for seventh place overall.
"I am happy with the time,'' he said. "I was shooting for a top-five [overall] coming in. But my preparation this time was a little bit under par."
Hussein missed a month of training this summer because of a strained groin muscle.
The masters women's champ -- again -- was Susan Loken. She won the race for the fourth straight season with a time of 2:44:43.Etc.
• Leukemia survivors Robert Brown of Edina and Tyler Boese of Lakeville caught up with each other a few times during the marathon. Both ran the race as part of Team In Training, an endurance-event training program affiliated with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Brown marked 20 years since his treatment ended by finishing in 4:50:24 Sunday. Boese, who had a bone-marrow transplant a year ago, finished his first marathon in 5:02:47. "It was nice to be able to run with friends, which helped calm my nerves," said Boese, 20. Brown, 41, will run the Dublin Marathon in three weeks. When he gets to Ireland he also plans to see some of the people who treated him when he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia while studying in England in 1990. "It was a beautiful day on a beautiful course, and I felt really strong," Brown said.
• Steve Brown, the Columbus, Ohio, runner who was featured in last week's Star Tribune, finished Sunday in 5:33:36.
• According to Marlene Wright, the race's marketing and public relations manager, 90 runners visited the medical tent -- 70 fewer than last year -- and four were transported to local hospitals, none with life-threatening conditions.
• A total of 7,111 started the 10-mile race, and 7,017 finished; 8,514 started the marathon, 8,211 finished.
Star Tribune staff writer Rachel Blount contributed to this notebook.