The steeplechase ace shows that his racing range extends to 26.2 miles.
Battling tough conditions in the Big Easy on Sunday morning, Ben Bruce of Flagstaff, Ariz., made his first go at 26.2 miles a memorable one, winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2 hours, 21 minutes and 56 seconds.
Wearing bib #6, the 31-year-old Bruce got off the line and settled into his intended pace of 5:15 per mile through 5K. By 10K, the steeplechase specialist, who ran a personal best of 1:02:53 last month at the U.S. Half Marathon Championship to finish 13th, was all alone, splitting 33:01. Eventual second-place finisher Ryan McGuire was 47 seconds behind at that point, while Bruce fed off the energy of the early crowds lining St. Charles Ave.
“I was running with one guy early on and we were right in the 5:15 zone, which put us at 2:18 pace, which is kind of where I was looking to be today,” Bruce said. “Then we slowed to 5:20, which was fine, but then we ran closer to 5:30. At 10K I was already on my own, so that’s another thing — running almost 20 miles of the race all alone is pretty tough.”
Bruce continued pressing, passing the halfway mark in 1:09:12 before the wet, windy conditions began to wear on the 6-foot-1, 150-pounder. A few miles in the 5:40s slowed Bruce’s overall pace, but he was still able to extend his lead all the way to the finish line at Roosevelt Mall in City Park.
“Well I definitely got some experience and I guess the good thing is that probably by my next marathon I won’t have conditions like this,” Bruce said of the less-than-ideal racing weather. “There is nothing like humidity to suck the energy out of a taller white guy. Those few miles into the wind just killed me. It’s a different experience those last few miles. It’s like, ‘Goodness, just get me to the line.'”
McGuire finished second in 2:28:21, while Steve Chu took third in 2:28:43.
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In the women’s marathon, Andrea Duke was the lone female under 3 hours, breaking the tape in 2:58:57. Livvy Jernigan was second in 3:02:54, while Cristine Wenzl was third in 3:07:27.
The men’s half marathon was won by Liam Burke in 1:11:35. He was followed Mark Hobbs (1:12:37) and Robert Wade (1:12:43) in second and third, respectively. Last year’s marathon winner, Karen Lockyer, won the women’s half marathon in 1:20:30, nearly four minutes up on second-place finisher Beverly Antunes (1:24:15). Sarah Lannom rounded out the top-3 in 1:27:33.
“I was in New Orleans checking out Tulane University and my dad was racing in the marathon, so I decided to run,” said Burke. “I was with Ben Bruce until about 10K, then I was running by myself. On top of that, it was pretty humid which made it more difficult.”
2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & ½ Marathon
New Orleans, La., Sunday, February 2, 2014
Half Marathon – Men’s
1. Liam Burke, 18, Portland, OR, 1:11:35, $500
2. Mark Hobbs, 36, Stockholm, Sweden, 1:12:37, $400
3. Robert Wade, 31, San Antonio, TX, 1:12:43, $300
4. David Johnson, 31, Plainfield, IL, 1:14:18, $200
5. Steven Ryan, 34, Brooklyn, NY, 1:14:47, $100
Half Marathon – Women’s
1. Karen Lockyer, 36, Gonzales, LA, 1:20:30, $500
2. Beverly Antunes, 31, Somerville, MA, 1:24:15, $400
3. Sarah Lannom, 26, Cambridge, MA, 1:27:33, $300
4. Stephanie Zammit, 39, Orangeville, Canada, 1:28:26, $200
5. Laura Zaunbrecher, 31, Boulder, CO, 1:30:40, $100
Marathon – Men’s
1. Ben Bruce, 31, Flagstaff, AZ, 2:21:56, $500
2. Ryan McGuire, 31, Middleburg, PA, 2:28:21, $250
3. Steve Chu, 31, Colorado Springs, CO, 2:28:43, $100
Marathon – Women’s
1. Andrea Duke, 34, Schertz, TX, 2:58:55, $500
2. Livvy Jernigan, 36, Pensacola, FL, 3:02:48, $250
3. Christine Wenzl, 32, Vienna, Austria, 3:07:21, $100