No one set a course record, but a personal best was enough for the Ethiopian winner.
DULUTH - The day before Grandma's Marathon, Lamech Mokono predicted something special was going to happen along the way from Two Harbors to Duluth. "I am ready to go,'' said the Kenyan, who won the race in 2008. "We can do something great.''
Mokono expected some of his fellow Africans would run with him Saturday in pursuit of a course record. Instead, they hung back -- and Mokono saw his hopes of winning dashed at the 22-mile mark. His two-man race with Berhanu Girma turned into a one-man race when Mokono took a gulp of water that went out through his nose, slowing him enough to allow Girma to run off for the victory in the 36th edition of the race.
Girma, 25, finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 25 seconds. That was the eighth-fastest winning time in Grandma's history, but it fell well short of Dick Beardsley's record of 2:09:37 set in 1981. Fellow Ethiopian Chala Lemi was second in 2:12:58, and Mokono finished third in 2:13:28.
Chris Erichsen of Minneapolis was the top American, earning ninth place in 2:16:31.
The thunderstorms that were forecast did not materialize during the race, though the gathering clouds held temperatures around 60 degrees. Despite the cool air, high humidity caused some discomfort among the 5,980 runners who started the race -- and rain came down on those who finished in the early afternoon.
Mokono thought conditions were ripe for a course record, and he was irritated that no one pushed the pace. Girma stood by the strategy that earned him his first victory at the 26.2-mile distance and a winner's check of $11,500.
"It was part of my game plan,'' Girma said through an interpreter. "I wanted to be one step back. I didn't want to take the lead.
"I thought I would put up a good fight, but I never thought I would [win]. I'm very happy.''
Girma was bothered by abdominal pain through much of his Grandma's Marathon debut. That prevented him from running the time he wanted, though he still finished with a personal record.
He and Mokono were part of a lead pack of about 16 runners early in the race, which dwindled to seven at the 12-mile mark. Mokono thought the group of Kenyans and Ethiopians would push him on the lead, but they did not. By mile 19, Mokono and Girma had broken loose in front.
A leg cramp had begun troubling Mokono, and Girma had taken a slight lead just before the water station at Lemon Drop Hill. Mokono said the water that went into his mouth ended up in his nose and almost caused him to collapse. As much as that annoyed him, he was just as irked by the reticence of his fellow runners.
"I'm not happy with the guys,'' he said. "They are elite runners, so why are they running like cowards? I expected us to work together. We could have run a course record, but nobody wanted to run with me.''
|Carolina||17||2nd Qtr 4:18|
|Detroit||0||2nd Qtr 2:42|
|Oakland||7||2nd Qtr 6:42|
|Arizona||7||2nd Qtr 5:28|
|St. Louis||6||2nd Qtr 2:58|
|TBA||1/3/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/3/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/4/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/4/15 2:00 AM|
|Detroit||47||2nd Qtr 1:30|
|Oklahoma City||6:30 PM|
|New York||8:00 PM|
|Toronto||0||1st Prd 7:48|
|Central Conn St||48||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||67||FINAL|
|South Dakota St||63||FINAL|
|Central Penn College||69||FINAL|
|SE Missouri St||94|
|North Dakota St||83|
|Saint Peters||38||2nd Half 5:32|
|St Katherine||51||2nd Half 5:24|
|Haskell||34||2nd Half 7:22|
|Wake Forest||46||2nd Half 7:57|
|Fla Gulf Coast||40||2nd Half 12:35|
|SD Christian||28||2nd Half 7:33|
|Ill-Chicago||15||1st Half 10:01|
|Loyola-Maryland||15||1st Half 6:41|
|Miss Valley St||25||1st Half 8:16|
|Lehigh||6||1st Half 14:29|
|Delaware State||10||1st Half 8:17|
|NW Christian||5:00 PM|
|UC Davis||5:00 PM|
|Abilene Christian||5:00 PM|
|Stony Brook||7:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona State||36||FINAL|
|Texas A&M||12/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Oklahoma||12/29/14 4:30 PM|
|Arkansas||12/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Notre Dame||12/30/14 2:00 PM|
|(13) Georgia||12/30/14 5:45 PM|
|Maryland||12/30/14 9:00 PM|
|(9) Ole Miss||12/31/14 11:30 AM|
|(21) Boise State||12/31/14 3:00 PM|
|(8) Miss State||12/31/14 7:00 PM|
|(10) Georgia Tech|
|(19) Auburn||1/1/15 11:00 AM|
|(7) Michigan State||1/1/15 11:30 AM|
|(16) Missouri||1/1/15 12:00 PM|
|(2) Florida State||1/1/15 4:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State||1/1/15 7:30 PM|
|Houston||1/2/15 11:00 AM|
|Iowa||1/2/15 2:20 PM|
|(11) Kansas State||1/2/15 5:45 PM|
|Washington||1/2/15 9:15 PM|
|East Carolina||1/3/15 11:00 AM|
|Toledo||1/4/15 8:00 PM|
|(10) Oregon State||63||FINAL|
|William & Mary||56|
|(20) Michigan State||57|
|(24) Green Bay||66||FINAL|
|Miss Valley St||40||FINAL|
|Sam Houston St||46||FINAL|
|(4) Notre Dame||55||2nd Half 12:27|
|Coll of Charleston||40||2nd Half 10:07|
|Alcorn State||37||2nd Half 10:05|
|Dartmouth||67||2nd Half 5:51|
|Michigan||33||2nd Half 11:44|
|Fla Gulf Coast||34||2nd Half|
|(25) Arizona State||34|
|UC Santa Barbara||8||1st Half 7:27|
|Long Island||20||1st Half 7:56|
|Long Beach St||10|
|Jackson State||8||1st Half 11:55|