DULUTH - Her race ended last year before it began. Belainesh Gebre got in the wrong van the morning of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, mistakenly boarding the bus that took elite athletes to the starting line for Grandma's Marathon.
By the time she made it to the proper start site, the half marathon had started without her. Gebre wasn't about to make that mistake again. Saturday, she got to the start with time to spare -- and made it to the finish the same way, winning the women's race in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 57 seconds, nearly a minute ahead of second-place Hyvon Ngetich.
Kenyan Ernest Kebenei led the men's half marathon from start to finish and won in 1:05:15.
"Last year, I was very sad," Gebre said through an interpreter. "This time, I was very prepared. My training was really good. I'm really happy I won, and I worked hard for it."
Gebre, 21, is an Ethiopian who trains in Flagstaff, Ariz. She ran side by side with Ngetich for the first half of Saturday's race before picking up her pace and pulling away. Ngetich finished in 1:12:40, with fellow Kenyan Caroline Rotich third in 1:14:45.
Minneapolis' Michelle Lilienthal was the top American in the women's field, finishing sixth. Joan Benoit Samuelson, 52, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the marathon, finished ninth in 1:20:37.Close, but no record
The heavy air didn't bother Kebenei as much as a breeze in the early going and the twisty course near the end. He had the best half-marathon time in the field and hoped to break the course record of 1:04:19 set by Ryan Meissen in 2002, but he came up about a minute short after holding a commanding lead through the race.
As his pursuers cut into his 300-meter lead, Kebenei held them off, but the tight corners late in the race prevented him from breaking the record.
"I tried my best," he said. "If it had been a straight line [near the end], I could have made it. I'll try to break it next year."
Ezkyas Sisay, an Ethiopian who trains with Gebre in Arizona, finished nine seconds behind Kebenei in a tight race for second. Twin Cities Marathon champ Fernando Cabada was third in 1:05:30, only five seconds behind Sisay, and Matt Gabrielson of Minneapolis was fourth in 1:05:36.36 runners hospitalized
Dr. Steve Harrington, medical director of the event, said 577 people were examined at the medical tent, most for hyperthermia, dehydration or muscle cramps; 36 runners were sent to a hospital for further treatment.
Harrington said temperatures near the finish line reached 90 degrees, creating a busy afternoon. "We've had three warm [Grandma's dates] in a row, and this is the most people we've seen in my recall," he said. "It's not the kind of day we wanted for the runners, but it's what we got."Etc.
• Scott Ramberg of Marine on St. Croix, who was profiled in Friday's Star Tribune, ran 3:51:19 in his first marathon after a near-fatal construction accident last year.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|Chicago WSox||2||Top 6th Inning|
|Kansas City||6||Bottom 8th Inning|
|Seattle||6||Bottom 9th Inning|
|San Francisco||8:05 PM|
|LA Lakers||8:30 PM|
|San Jose||6:00 PM|
|NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Colorado||49||2nd Half 7:33|
|Cal State Fullerton||45||2nd Half 7:57|
|Long Beach State||49|
|Idaho||54||2nd Half 9:18|
|Wyoming||45||2nd Half 7:13|
|Florida A&M||36||2nd Half 17:27|
|Nicholls||39||2nd Half 15:37|
|Ohio||22||1st Half 7:50|
|Penn State||13||1st Half 6:29|
|Northern Colorado||28||1st Half 7:38|
|Duquesne||15||1st Half 5:38|
|Troy||0||1st Half 19:30|
|DePaul||0||1st Half 19:46|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||8:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||8:00 PM|
|Rhode Island||8:00 PM|
|Portland State||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||8:00 PM|
|Miss State||8:25 PM|
|West Virginia||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|
|Bradley||66||2nd Half 0:33|
|Montana State||19||2nd Half 18:55|
|Alabama State||19||1st Half 6:09|
|Louisiana Tech||6:00 PM|
|Southern Ill||7:07 PM|
|Idaho State||7:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||8:30 PM|
Poll: How many games will the Gophers win in the Big Ten tournament?