Despite hurricane warnings and windy conditions 30,000 runners braved the 37th Marine Corps Marathon. Among them, Spc. Augustus Maiyo, a first-time marathoner and this year’s winner with an unofficial time of 2:20:20.
“I didn’t really have control [of the race] until the last mile, ” said Maiyo. “At the 18 Mile I was feeling strong. I didn’t know what was in front of me, it was busy but at the 20 Mile everyone was gone.”
Maiyo’s training team friend Capt. Kenneth Foster, also representing the U.S. Army finished second with an unofficial time of 2:22:34 and was followed by Birhanu Tadesse, a native of Ethiopia, who clocked in at 2:23:03.
Foster, currently stationed in Fort Huachuca, Arizona is a military intelligence officer in the process of completing the Captain’s Career Course.
“I have a final exam actually on Tuesday so during the flight and all last week I’ve been studying pretty intensely,” said Foster. “I probably didn’t get as much sleep as I should have but I just wanted to represent the Army and do well.”
The top female finisher Hirut Guanqul, of Ellicott City, MD, surprised everyone by snagging first place with an unofficial time of 2:42:03. She was followed by Abebe Wayinshet Hailu (2:47:03) and Erin Richard (2:48:10) of Rochester Hills, MI.
“I loved the loop. Everywhere you went was something different and there were people everywhere cheering for you,” said Richard after completing her third marathon and first MCM.
Richard led the ladies for the first 19 miles of the course. After only running in marathon time trials, her goal at the MCM was to claim first.
“I was in a pack of guys the whole time and [Guanqul] was right behind me. At 19 I backed off a little bit and she took a couple steps ahead of me and the next thing I knew it was 100 feet. I was by myself for a while and was caught again just before 25 miles. [Hailu] went by me and was like, ‘Come on girl!’ I tried to go but even though you know you’re so close it’s so hard.”
"My target was to win this race so when I passed [Richard] I can imagine to win and I was very happy and comfortable," said Guanqul through an interpreter. From that point on she knew she would finish first. Guanqul was thrilled with her performance and the result, particularly after suffering a pulled left calf while running another marathon just last week.
The approaching storm held off for the start of the race, with dry, slightly windy conditions and temperatures in the low 60s.
“I prefer this weather but without the wind,” said Maiyo of the gusts that picked up shortly after the race began and continued through the morning.
Maiyo wasn’t the only runner affected by the 17 mph gusts.
“The conditions were ideal aside from the wind,” said Foster. “The temperature was great, the crowd support was great and you’re running in the nation’s capital and doing it with all four military branches here.”
“When you start to get tired and it starts to get windy it’s like a double hit,” said Richard. “I felt it more [at the end] but I don’t know if I was just getting tired or if it was picking up more.”