First-time champions take Grandma's Marathon

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 16, 2012 - 6:29 PM

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DULUTH -- Through the final miles of Grandma's Marathon, Lamech Mokono hoped someone would join him on the lead. But Berhanu Girma's strategy was to stay a step behind in what had become a two-man race from Two Harbors to Duluth.

At the 22-mile mark Saturday, Mokono -- who won the race in 2008 -- took some water. It went into his nose, causing him to falter -- and Girma finally stepped forward. The Ethiopian strode out alone and crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 25 seconds to earn his first marathon victory, defeating countryman Chala Lemi by 33 seconds.

Mokono, a Kenyan, finished third in 2:13:28. There was another first-time winner in the women's race, as Everlyne Lagat -- who finished third in 2010 and second last year -- ascended to the top step of the podium in 2:33:14. Mulu Seboka was second in 2:34:54, and defending champion Yihunlish Delelecha was third in 2:35:42.

Though the humidity was high throughout the race, the sky became overcast, holding temperatures to around 60 degrees. Mokono thought the conditions were ripe to break Dick Beardsley's course record of 2:09:37 set in 1981, but the reticence to push the pace prevented that from happening.

The top Minnesota finishers were Chris Erichsen in the men's race (ninth place, 2:16:31) and Jenna Boren in the women's race (eighth place, 2:40:48).

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