MARATHON 1

Malakwen wins Q-C Marathon

MOLINE — Sammy Malakwen grew up in the same city as Kiplangat Philemon Terer.

So those two Kenyans have covered a lot of the same road together.

Their friendly rivalry played out again Sunday in the Quad Cities Marathon, with Malakwen besting the local race’s defending men’s champ and record-setter in their backyard brawl thousands of miles from home.

Malakwen won by nearly two minutes in 2 hours 15 minutes and 41 seconds.

That was nearly two minutes slower than Terer’s winning time of 2:14:04 last fall, and more than four minutes off the 32-year-old’s best, but Malakwen also was nearly two minutes better than his old rival Sunday.

Terer was the runner-up in 2:17:35, as the last contender falling off the lead pace set by Malakwen by Mile 19 in the 26.2-mile foot race.

A third Kenyan, Abraham Chelanga, was a distant third in 2:18:59. All three still were quick enough to earn a $500 bonus  for running under the U.S. Olympic Time Trials-qualifying standard of 2:22.

Malakwen won the day’s biggest prize, though, the $3,000 winner’s check.

Kenyans swept the five money places with Benjamin Metto ($750 for fourth) and Edward Tabut ($500 for fifth) behind Chelanga ($1,000) and Terer ($1,500).

“It’s always fun to run against (Terer),” Malakwen said. “I knew he’d be strong. I knew he held the course record. I knew he’d fight to defend his championship. But I got him this time.”

The intra-city duel highlighted a bright, sunny Sunday that set a participation record at the 17th annual, Triumph Community Bank-sponsored event.

The Festival of Races drew 5,733 runners for the 26.2-mile marathon, 13.1-mile half-marathon, five-person marathon relay and the 5K. Besides the Sunday races, the total also includes the participants in the Happy Joe’s Kids’ Micro-Marathon and the 1-mile Walk for the Cause, a fundraiser and awareness-builder for the local prostate cancer support group, Us, Too.

The starting total was more than 100 runners better than the 15th annual race in 2012, and up more than 600 participants from last fall.

However, the final participation number was impacted by a fire in the Federal Aviation Administration building in nearby Aurora grounding flights this weekend in the Chicagoland area.

Among those caught in the commuting delays and changed travel plans were three Ethiopian runners in the elite field, who were forced to withdraw when they were unable to get a flight to the area.

Included were the expected top two contenders in the women’s field — top-seeded Meseret Ali Basa and second-seeded Aregash Gubae Abate. Countryman Fikadu Lemma, seeded 11th in the men’s field. also sent regrets.

Stepping up to take advantage of the depleted women’s field was Kenyan Ruth Kimutai, who won by nearly 12 minutes in 2:42:25.

The remainder of the top 5 prize winners all hailed from America — Texan Lauren Versweyveld (second in 2:54:24), Massachusetts’ Laurie Cass (third in 3:07:46), Wisconsin’s Nikki Cahen (fourth in 3:08:58) and Nebraska’s Gail Illich (fifth in 34:15:42).

Cass flew into Detroit before renting a car and driving here after her connecting flights were cancelled.

“(The travel troubles) hurt us in the women’s field because we didn’t have a lot of quality depth there like we do the men’s race,” said Ian Frink, the longtime elite runner coordinator for the local race.

“On the bright side, we did pick up one runner in the women’s half-marathon field because she couldn’t fly out of Chicago to get to Montreal this weekend, so she drove down here instead.”

That driver — Laura Batternick, of suburban Chicago — also became the pre-race favorite in the women’s half-marathon, owning a personal-best of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Batternick in turn ran a personal-best 1:14:21 to break the local event’s women’s record by nearly two minutes.

The men’s winner in the half-marathon also was expected.

Kenya’s George Towett, who dropped from the full to half marathon this week, because of a battle with the flu, posted a 1:09:17.

“We also were fortunate that our defending men’s champ and record holder, Terer, was able to get to St. Louis with a couple of others, and some regular runners from there already coming up were of great assistance in driving them here for us,” Frink added.

Terer’s journey began Friday morning and ended about 5 p.m. Saturday, with an appearance at the marathon’s pasta party after a 4 1/2-hour drive.

“It won’t affect me,” promised Terer, who won last September in a record-shattering 2 hours 14 minutes and 4 seconds. “I’m a professional. I’m here in plenty of time to get rested. I’ve also trained all year just for this one race. I plan to run even faster this year.”

However, Frink correctly worried more than travel troubles would slow down the champ.

Sunny skies expected to melt into one of the hottest Quad Cities Marathons welcomed participants Sunday morning to the start/finish line in the John Deere Commons.

The forecast projected today’s high to hit 83 degrees, which would be the third-warmest temperature attained in the event’s history.

The QC Marathon’s all-time high of 91 degrees was set in 2007.

Temperatures were in the mid-50s, though, for the 7:30 a.m. start outside of Moline’s iWireless Center, though Malakwen and others admitted the warm temperatures forced them to slow down.
“It did get hot,” Terer admitted. “There was no wind. But no excuses. He was just better than me.”

The morning’s first winners were in the 5K with Hampton’s Damon Bautista and Macomb’s Maya Stovall claiming the men’s and women’s titles, respectively.

Bautista, a 28-year-old former United Township standout, who ran in college at Monmouth, finished the day’s shortest race in 17 minutes and 27 seconds. Bautista, who now serves as an assistant cross-country coach at his alma mater, was nine seconds better than runner-up Michael Converse.

Stovall, only a 13-year-old junior high prodigy, posted the 12th fastest time in the combined field against grown men, finishing in 19:30. Stovall was nearly a minute better than the runner-up female, 49-year-old area running icon Kelley Timmerman of Geneseo.
Team results were not yet available at the time of this report.

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