Philip Samoei didn’t take a shortcut to win the 2011 Manitoba Marathon — in fact, he ran a little extra.
The Kenyan-born runner, who now lives in Calgary, did one additional loop of the Jubilee Overpass but still managed to crush the rest of the field in the 26.2-mile race, posting a time of two hours, 35 minutes, 45.6 seconds.
Samoei finished more than eight minutes ahead of runner-up Adam Aleshka of Winnipeg, who posted a time of 2:44:09.8 at the annual Father’s Day marathon.
Another Winnipegger, Bradley Keefe, placed third with a time of 2:44:54.2, just a fraction of a second ahead of defending champion Michael Booth (2:44.54.3) who put in a gutsy performance — actually falling several times and getting back up as he entered University of Manitoba Stadium — but settled for fourth.
Newlywed Gina Tessman of Winnipeg finished first in the women’s portion of the 33rd Manitoba Marathon, with a time of 2:58:04.
Booth’s finish was, indeed, dramatic. But Samoei’s longer-than-necessary journey to the finish line was quite the story as well.
And though he was thrilled with the victory, he wasn’t terribly impressed with his finishing time.
"My best time is 2:18, but (Sunday) I ran more than two kilometres off... I did two loops and was supposed to do only one, and that gives me my poor time, and demoralized me."
Initially, race director Shirley Lumb couldn’t figure out where Samoei could have gone off course. But on Sunday night, the riddle was finally solved.
Apparently, the escort vehicle had to manoeuvre around an ambulance and, in doing so, took the wrong turn at the overpass between Mile 6 and 7. Samoei followed along and did the loop, but then was directed to run it again going the right way.
"I talked to the lead parade people, and yes, for sure, they took the wrong loop," Lumb said. "He did do an extra bit of distance... he might have lost about three minutes there. That’s fantastic. He went a little bit farther and still managed to win by quite a lot."
And there’s no penalty for running more than what’s required.
"Every runner is charged to run at least the full distance of the marathon," Lumb said.
Meanwhile, Booth, a four-time Manitoba Marathon champion, came in with the greatest of intentions. But he became a victim of what can only be described as burning the candle at both ends.
A hectic study schedule and upcoming graduation, plus the launch of a new sports therapy business, meant he missed some all-important practice runs. Combine that with Sunday’s high humidity and Booth simply took a beating in the end.
Inside the medical centre following the race, he said, "I’ll live through this. It’s always a good experience, it makes you tougher."
Falling several times as he entered the stadium, Booth refused to quit and, in a final burst of energy, tried to catch Keefe, who is his friend and who he coaches. As they approached the finish line, Booth went down again, managed to get up, and crossed the line just behind.
"That was not the way I wanted to get third," said Keefe, "but I have to run. We’ll (him and Booth) probably laugh about it for a long time."
Booth, who won in (2005, ’06, ’07 and ’10), was happy for Keefe. "We’re good friends, and I gave it my all trying to get him at the line. I don’t know what happened out there. Right from a few miles in, I was hurting, and at halfway I was cramping up really bad."
Despite racing against the clock, Tessman, a 25-year-old health-care worker, insisted she did not want the time distracting her.
"I tried to not look at my watch constantly," she said. "I just got back from my honeymoon in Cuba, and I trained on a treadmill there. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel (Sunday), but I think my husband and I came back in even better shape."
Tessman won by only 10 seconds over second-place finisher Meggan Franks of Starkville, Miss., in 2:58:14, while Fargo’s Cindy Sondag was third in 3:02:22.
Brian Walker, 29, won the men’s half-marathon for the second time with a time of 1:11:58.
Alice Sherwin and Rebecca Carr, both members of the Bison track team, worked together through most of the women’s half-marathon, with Sherwin winning in 1:27:15 and Carr coming in second in 1:28:27. Jaqueline Lester, of Winnipeg was third in 1:29.
— With files from Jason Bell