Abraham Kogo Prevails At Cleveland Marathon

Over 20,000 runners took to the streets of Cleveland on Saturday. Photo: Plain Dealer

Mary Akor won the women’s title.

From: Running USA

CLEVELAND — The 2012 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon weekend opened Saturday with a winning performance by an Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 5K and ended Sunday with a record turnout and a pair of fast times in the men’s and women’s marathon.

Under clear skies and temperatures in the mid-80s, the weekend saw participation in the 35th edition reach an all-time high of 20,008 runners. The total represents an increase of nearly 300 percent since Rite Aid became the title sponsor in 2003, when 5,200 participants took to the streets of Cleveland. Both the half and full marathon sold out for the second consecutive year and the third time in the marathon’s 35-year history.

“Well, it was a little warmer than we would have liked it today, but the runners turned in some great times and the crowds were unbelievable,” said Executive Race Director Jack Staph. “To have our men’s and women’s marathon winners run under 2:20 and 2:40, while setting records in the half and both 5K races is fantastic.”

The record also included a 5K on Saturday that drew 1,315 runners, the We Run This City Program that had 750 school-aged participants from Cleveland Municipal School District, and another 500 children who participated in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Red Nose Children’s Run on Saturday on the field at the Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“I think the thousands of fans and participants over the course of the weekend really got to see the best Cleveland has to offer,” said Staph. “This is a great city, a flat, fast course, and it seems more and more people are enjoying ‘the Cleveland Experience’ each and every year.”

Abraham Kogo, a 31-year-old runner from Kenya, was the first to cross the marathon finish line in 2 hours, 19 minutes, 59 seconds. Kogo bided his time until mile 21 when he surged past the pack to grab a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.

Peter Kemboi, also of Kenya, came in second in 2:23:29, followed by 30-year-old Matt Levassiur of Alamosa, Colo. at 2:24:07.

Among the women it was 35-year-old Mary Akor of Hawthorne, Calif. who took first in 2:39:49. Russian Venera Sarmosova, 32, finished second in 2:44:16. She was followed by Beth Woodward, 36, of Orrville, N.Y. in 2:55:19.

Both Kogo and Akor won $3000, while collecting an additional $3000 bonus for finishing under 2:20:00 and 2:40:00, respectively.

Twenty-four-year-old Andy Schweitzer of Beavercreek, Ohio finished first in the men’s half-marathon, with his 1:10:39, while Michael Capriolo, 28, of Akron, took second in 1:12:08 with 30-year-old Charlie Ban of McLean, Va. third (1:13:13).

Christie Forster, a 23-year-old runner from Colorado Springs, Colo. led the women’s half-marathon with a course record time of 1:19:47. Forster was followed by Heidi Greenwood, 27, of Cleveland, who crossed in 1:21:30, while Andrea Gravue, 27, took third (1:22:12).

Common with the 10K race, elite international runners dominated the top spots for the men’s and women’s events. Kenyan runnersJulius Kibet and Everlyne Lagat won the men’s and women’s races, respectively, and each took home a $2000 purse. This was the second year in a row that Lagat won the women’s race.

Kibet, 29, finished in 28:44, matching his time from his 2005 victory. He was followed by countryman Simon Ndirangu, 26, who clocked 29:00 and Ethiopian Alene Reta, 30, who ran 29:34.

Lagat, 31, won the women’s 10K in 33:58. Esther Erb, 26, of Blowing Rock, N.C. was runner-up in 34:23 followed by 24-year-oldLilian Mariita of Kenya in third (34:37).

Another course record was set on Saturday in the 5K by Stephen Benesh, 32, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, who ran 16:08, breaking his own course record from his win the previous year by four seconds. In the women’s race, 1984 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson won with a course record time of 18:48, just three days after celebrating her 55th birthday. Benoit Samuelson was in town as a special guest as part of the 35th anniversary celebration.

The 2012 race featured 20 neighborhood parties, and numerous music stations and bands along the course. The finish line area, which featured live music, a beer garden and sponsor and charity booths, was overflowing with family and friends of runners enjoying the sights of the North Coast Harbor with the finish line situated just between the Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Registration opened today for the 2013 race, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 19.

35th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon
Cleveland, OH, Sunday, May 20, 2012

MEN
1) Abraham Kogo (KEN), 2:19:59, $6000
2) Peter Kemboi (KEN), 2:23:29, $1500
3) Matt Levassiur (USA / CO), 2:24:07, $1000

WOMEN
1) Mary Akor (USA / CA), 2:39:49, $6000
2) Venera Sarmosova (RUS), 2:44:16, $1500
3) Beth Woodward (USA / NY), 2:55:19, $100

35th Rite Aid Cleveland 10K
MEN
1) Julius Kibet (KEN), 28:44, $2000
2) Simon Ndirangu (KEN), 29:00, $1000
3) Alene Reta (ETH), 29:34, $500

WOMEN
1) Everlyne Lagat (KEN), 33:58, $2000
2) Esther Erb (USA / NC), 34:23, $1000
3) Lilian Mariita (KEN), 34:37, $500

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