Kara Goucher’s first time racing in her hometown as a professional turned into a victory party as the former Duluth resident won the women’s race at June’s 2012 USA Half Marathon Championships.
Goucher, 33, ran the fastest ever women’s time on the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon course – 1 hour, 9 minutes and 46 seconds. She captured the national title and $14,000 in prize money – $12,000 for first place and an additional $2,000 bonus for a time under 1:10:00.
Abdi Abdirahman, also headed to London as part of the U.S. Olympic marathon team, won the men’s race in 1:02:46, edging Brett Gotcher by three seconds. The victory for the 35-year-old earned him $12,000 plus $1,250 for a sub-1:03:00 finish.
Meanwhile, it was a day of firsts in the 36th running of Grandma’s Marathon.
Berhanu Girma became the first Ethiopian to win the men’s championship in the race’s 36 years. The 25-year-old’s winning time – a personal best, 2:12:25 seconds – topped fellow Ethiopian Chala Lemi who finished in 2:12:58. Lamech Mokono, the 2008 champion, placed third in 2:13:28.
Girma earned $10,000 for the victory plus a $1,500 bonus for finishing in under 2:13:00.
Russia’s Viacheslav Shabunin, 42, claimed the men’s masters title in 2:18:53.
In the women’s division, Everlyn Lagat, 31, claimed the first marathon title for a Kenyan taking the crown in 2:33:14. Lagat, 31, beat Ethiopians Mulu Seboka (2:34:54) and defending champion Yihunlish Delelecha (2:35:42).
Lagat, runner-up last year and third in 2010, claimed the $10,000 winner’s check plus a $1,250 bonus for running sub-2:34:00. Ukraine’s Tetyana Mezentsena, 40, placed 4th in 2:37:05 to earn the women’s masters crown.
Both course records fell in the wheelchair division. Josh George won his second Grandma’s Marathon men’s title in 1:22:55. He also won in 2009. Amanda McGrory broke her own course record in the female division with a time of 1:36:38 – her sixth Grandma’s Marathon victory.
The 2012 Grandma’s Marathon had 7,641 registrants and of those, 5,980 runners started the race and 5,788 finished. The annual Two Harbors-to-Duluth 26.2-mile race had entrants from 41 countries, 47 states and the District of Columbia.
In the 22nd Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, Jack Delehanty, 25, of Minneapolis, took the men’s title in 1:10:57, while the women’s race was won by Kelly Brinkman, 31, of Bloomington, Minn., with a time of 1:18:11.
A record number of 7,628 people registered for the 2012 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon with 6,523 runners starting the race and 6,478 finishing.
For complete results, log on to GrandmasMarathon.com.
Grandma's Marathon weekend was presented by Toyota and Wells Fargo Bank Duluth. The 37th running of Grandma's Marathon is Saturday, June 22, 2013.