Friday, June 15, 2007

31st Grandma's Sports Varied Field

A varied mix of international and American talents headline tomorrow’s 31st Grandma’s Marathon. Elite runners from Kenya and Ethiopia to Peru and Venezuela – not to mention Kyrgyzstan and Australia – compose the geographically assorted field.

Last years Grandma’s Marathon women’ champion (after the drug testing results came in, that is) Svetlana Nekhorosh headlines this year's women’s field. On the men’s side, 2005 winner Wesly Ngetich, who finished 6th here last year, will be the race’s top returning competitor.

In the wake of Belarus’ Halina Karnatsevich’s doping disqualification after last year’s race, fewer eastern European athletes are wearing low numbered bibs this year. Race director Scott Keenan, however, wasn’t sure if that demographic change was due to normal fluctuations in the make-up of the elite field or in response to Grandma’s new anti-doping policy which bars athletes from the event if they are affiliated with the coach or agent of an offending athlete.

Two athletes that seem natural to cheer for based on their media conference impressions are Liza Hunter-Galvan of New Zealand and Rik Ceulemans of Belgium ... though for very different reasons.

The San Antonia-based Hunter-Galvan, returns to racing after recovering from a recent automobile accident that injured her and her child. The tearful 37-year-old, who has a 2:33:51 PR, eschewed talking about the details of the accident with the media, but admitted to be running the race with, “a bone to pick with life.” Hunter-Galvan hopes to run the sub-2:33 Olympic qualifying standard of her native New Zealand.

“I want to run 2:32:59,” she deadpanned.

Ceulemans, on the other hand, should garner lots of cheers for his Mohawk haircut alone. (His shoe sponsor would want me to mention that there's a design on the back of his head to admire too.) The Belgian with a mischievous grin – and an un-European fondness for Coke and pizza, he admitted – is hoping for a sub-2:12 that would qualify him on the New Zealand team for the World Championships in Osaka, Japan later this summer. Ceulemans has a PR of 2:13:42.

The top Americans in the event are likely to be Heather Hanscom of Eugene, Oregon who was 6th in the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials and Mary Akor, who finished third here last year and followed that feat with a runner-up finish at Twin Cities. For men, only Kyle Baker sports the marathon credentials likely to mix with the top finishers -- he's run 2:14:13. However, Sydney 5000m U.S. Olympian Nick Rogers, who will make his marathon debut here, is an intriguing prospect.

Among Minnesotans, veterans Katie Koski and Jenna Boren both sport 2:42 PRs, but marathon debutante Desiree Budd, last year's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon champ, is someone to watch. Monticello's Joe Mahoney owns the fastest PR for Minnesota men at 2:19:38, but Duluthians are eager to see what natives Eric Hartmark and Jeremy Polson can do.

Also of note in the field is former Chaska High School and University of Wisconsin star Stephanie Herbst-Lucke. Herbst-Lucke has returned to competitive running in her 40s, and clocked a 2:42:53 at the Chicago Marathon last fall.

Top Women with PRs:
F-1 Svetlana Nekhorosh (Ukraine) 2:36:20
F-2 Heather Hanscom (USA) 2:31:53
F-3 Maria Portilla (Peru) 2:35:24
F-4 Mary Akor (USA) 2:33:50
F-5 Liza Hunter-Galvan 2:33:51
F-6 Irina Bogacheva (Kyrgyzstan) 2:26:27
F-7 Tatiana Titova (Russia) 2:29:36
F-8 Ramilia Burangulova (Russia) 2:27:58
F-9 Jenny Spangler (USA) 2:29:54
F-10 Jeanne Hennessy (USA) 2:35:53
F-11 Lyudmila Biktasheva (Russia) Debut
F-12 Kristen Fryberg (USA) Debut
F-13 Tatiana Mironova (Russia) 2:36:38
F-14 Lisa Vaill (USA) 2:37:12
F-15 Naomi Wangui (Kenya) 2:36:00
F-16 Desiree Budd (USA/MN) Debut
F-17 Sharon Stubler (USA/MN) 2:41:26
F-18 Shelly Larson (USA/MN) 2:42:17
F-19 Katie Koski (USA/MN) 2:42:33
F-20 Jenna Boren (USA/MN) 2:42:39
F-21 Stephanie Herbst-Lucke (USA) 2:42:53
F-22 Melody Fairchild (USA) 2:44:42
F-26 Melissa Gacek (USA/MN) 2:45:55
F-38 Marie Sample (USA/MN) 2:48:10
F-39 Erin Ward (USA/MN) 2:48:18
F-54 Nicole Cueno (USA/MN) 2:55:54

Top Men:
1 Thomas Omwenga (Kenya) 2:10:44
2 Andrei Gordeev (Belarus) 2:11:44
3 Andrew Letherby (Australia) 2:11:42
4 Joseph Kahugu (Kenya) 2:07:59
5 Abebe Yimer (Ethiopia) 2:13:32
6 Wesly Ngetich (Kenya) 2:12:10
7 Rik Ceulemans (Belgium) 2:13:42
8 Patrick Kiptum (Kenya) 2:13:42
9 James Karanja (Kenya) 2:13:53
10 Jynocel Basweti (Kenya) 2:14:02
11 Kyle Baker (USA) 2:14:13
12 Bruce Deacon (Canada) 2:13:18
13 Charles Kamindo (Kenya) 2:15:03
14 Fedor Ryjov (Russia) 2:12:59
15 Isiah Sanga (Kenya) 2:15:42
16 Reuben Chebutich (Kenya) 2;10:34
17 Zepherinus Joseph (St. Lucia) 2:16:06
18 James Kariuki (Kenya) 2:16:00
19 Chokri Dhaouadi (Tunisia) 2:16:20
20 Bruce Raymer (Canada) 2:16:44
21 Zintu Meaza (Ethiopia) 2:15:56
22 Freddy Alvarado (Venezuela) 2:17:36
23 Charles Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:17:00
24 Wilson Komen (Kenya) 2:17:07
25 Fred Kieser (USA) 2:17:19
30 Joe Mahoney (USA/MN) 2:19:38
35 Nick Rogers (USA) Debut
45 Eric Hartmark (USA/MN) 2:21:56
63 Jason Minnick (USA/MN) 2:24:48
69 Jeremy Polson (USA/MN) 2:25:57
81 Josh Metcalf (USA/MN) 2:26:18

No comments: