Can Christopher Kipyego become the next Andrew Musuva?
2011 Grandma’s Marathon champion Christopher Kipyego of Kenya will try on Sunday to become only the second male runner in history to win Grandma’s and the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathons in the same year. If he can accomplish the feat, he stands to add to the $15,000 take-home pay the winners of the event receive.
Kipyego, who won the closest finish in Grandma’s history in June with a personal best 2:12:15, will earn a $10,000 bonus if he can match Musuva’s double win from 1999. Kipyego can expect a strong challenge from a group of his own countrymen, including Julius Koskei, who has run 2:10:14, and Coon Rapids-based John Njoroge, who finished third in the 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and who has a PR of 2:10:00.
The battle for the women’s Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon title could turn out to be a battle between Russia’s Nedezdha Leonteva and Kenya’s Doreen Kitaka. Leonteva has run a 2:31:57 marathon and has twice been a medalist at the Russian marathon championships. Kitaka, who is also based in Coon Rapids, has run 2:32:00 for the distance and finished fourth at Grandma’s Marathon in June. Other contenders include Truphena Tarus of Kenya, Elena Nagovitsyna of Russian, and American Emily Harrison of Flagstaff, Ariz.
In the USA Men’s Masters Championships held in conjunction with the event, two-time Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon champion Mbarak Hussein of Albuquerque, N.M., returns in hopes of winning his fourth career USA Masters Marathon crown. His two outright Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon wins came as a masters runner, and last year, the Kenyan-born American citizen, who ran 2:08:12 for a marathon in 2004, earned a third USA Masters title at Twin Cities finishing 7th overall. Tracy Lokken of Marquette, Mich., the 2007 and 2009 USA Masters champ, Matt Sandercock of Exton, Penn., the third-place master last year, and Bob Weiner of Evergreen, Colo., the fourth-place master last year, could also challenge.
The USA Women’s Masters Championships appears wide open with the late scratch due to injury of four-time USA Masters titlist Susan Loken of Phoenix, Ariz.. Hoping to fill Loken’s speedy shoes on the masters victory stand are Shannon McHale of West Simsbury, Conn., who set her marathon personal best of 2:40:36 at Twin Cities in 2009, Sheri Piers of Falmouth, Maine, a 16th-place finisher at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, and Joanna Zeiger of San Diego, Calif, an Olympian for the United States in 2000 in the triathlon.
The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon offers prize purses of $56,500 each for open men’s and women’s runners. An additional $33,050 each will be awarded to male and female runners in the USA Masters Marathon Championships.
In order to earn the course record bonus of $25,000, male runners must top Phil Coppes’ course record of 2:10:05 set in 1985 and women must better the record of 2:26:50 shared by Zinaida Semenova (2001) and Irina Permitina (2004).