Thirteenth time’s the charm for marathon winner

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(imageTag)Bradley Keefe took one final look over his shoulder as he rounded the final corner of the 2016 Manitoba Marathon Sunday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/06/2016 (2413 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Full Marathon winner Brad Keefe at the University of Manitoba, Sunday.

Bradley Keefe took one final look over his shoulder as he rounded the final corner of the 2016 Manitoba Marathon Sunday.

The Winnipegger needed one last piece of assurance that he was, in fact, in the clear. With the next closest runner out of sight, Keefe, relieved, ran the final 100 metres with an internal grin, plenty of external wincing and a feeling that he didn’t have to hurt anymore.

After 13 attempts, including five at the Manitoba Marathon (three third place finishes and two second place ones), Keefe took home the first place crown in the men’s full marathon with a time of 2:43:32.

“It meant a lot (those last 100 metres)… from the bit of the career I have, this was the last thing I wanted after running for almost 20 years,” Keefe said. “For the rest of my life, this day, which a lot of people will forget, I will never forget this, even when I’m very old.”

Keefe was locked in a dogfight throughout the race with 2015 winner Thomas Omwenga and Steinbach’s Les Friesen, who placed third last year. When Omwenga pulled up lame right around the 20-mile mark, Keefe took over the lead as Omwenga was forced to retire soon after.

Friesen would pass Keefe, briefly albeit, before the Winnipeg native stole back the lead with a couple miles left in the wet and humid race.

“Normally (losing the lead) means you’re done,” Keefe said, revealing that friends and family, including his wife and three kids, kept his drive alive during the 26.2-mile race. “I knew, with a mile to go, after fives years of being third or second, I had the motivation to hurt for the last mile. I really wanted to win, that was the goal. Not really a time goal this year… whatever the time is, I don’t really care today.”

Steffan Reimer came in third with a time 2:50:35.

‘The pressure is off’

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The 2016 Manitoba Marathon women's winner Heather Magill crosses the finish line.

It was a day of repeat champions on Sunday. Heather Magill made it twice as sweet with her second women’s full marathon victory in as many tries.

Unlike Keefe, Magill was nearly 20 minutes in front of her closest competitor, Alice Sherwin, who finished second. Magill crossed the finish line with a time of 2:55:55, a time hampered by the day’s most common theme and hindrance: the humidity.

“It was a little bit harder than I planned,” Magill admitted. “I grabbed water and Gatorade at every stop, and sponges too. This is the first time grabbing sponges. I’m soaked. It might as well have rained.”

The Calgary native who now resides in Grand Forks, N.D., said the drums being played at the 13-mile mark gave her the chills, at which point she was well on her way to the win.

“The pressure is off (of repeating),” she said.

Sherwin came in second with a time of 3:12:35 followed by Janie Parson, who placed third posting a time of 3:13:45

“It was hard, it was hot and my legs weren’t feeling it today,” Sherwin said. “When I passed the second place girl, I was like, ‘You just have to finish.’ It was pretty slow, but I’m OK with that. It was hot. I saw (Magill) for the first three or four miles but then I was like, ‘You can go, I’m not following you.’”

Meanwhile, Abduselam Yussuf, who placed first in 2014 and 2015 men’s half marathon, completed the hat trick on Sunday with a time of 1:08:25.

Nagging hamstring blamed for slower time

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The 2016 Manitoba Half Marathon winner Abduselam Yussuf approaches the finish line.

Yussuf, a track and field athlete at the University of Manitoba, set the Manitoba men’s record last year with the time of 1:05:05, but a nagging hamstring injury that forced him out of a race in Calgary, was partly to blame for his slower time this year.

“I’m really glad everything turned out today,” said Yussuf, who will head into his final year with the Bisons track team this fall. “I was exhausted by mile two, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ I fell off around half way and picked it back up again when I saw my friends. It was really nice of them to run around and meet me at points. It was a good push.”

The battle for second place came down to the wire, with Dawit Hagos edging out Michael Middlemiss by just six seconds. Hagos finished with a time of 1:15:10 while Middlemiss crossed the finish line with a time of 1:15:16.

On the women’s side, Nicole Walker, a member of the famed Walker marathon family, took home first place with a time of 1:23:48.

A month ago, Walker won female amateur division of the Ironman North American Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

“This is my new personal best for a half marathon,” Walker said. “I didn’t know what I could really do because I’m normally running much longer.

“Every year, I come out and watch my in-laws and my husband and his brother, and every time I’m here I wish I was running. So this year I didn’t care that I just raced. I was going to do it any way.”

Walker heads to Kona, Hawaii in October for the Ironman world championships.

Emma Kusch Dahle finished in second place with a time of 1:25:20 while Kristjana Britton came in third place 11 seconds later, setting a time of 1:25:31.

With mostly overcast skies above, the course change failed to provide the shade it promised if conditions were sunny. Yussuf said the success of this year’s course change, the first in over 30 years, will be hard to judge.

“It’s a whole new thing,” he said. “I don’t think this year would be the decider. The weather didn’t help.”

For me, I wasn’t phased by it. The shade theory didn’t come into play,” Keefe added. “It was sort of interesting to see different friends and family where I normally wouldn’t.”

scott.billeck@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @scottbilleck

History

Updated on Sunday, June 19, 2016 9:05 AM CDT: Corrects spelling of Abduselam, corrects that he's won three times

Updated on Sunday, June 19, 2016 10:51 AM CDT: Updates with marathon winners, adds photos

Updated on Sunday, June 19, 2016 1:49 PM CDT: Updates with full writethrough

Updated on Sunday, June 19, 2016 4:01 PM CDT: hanges photos

Updated on Sunday, June 19, 2016 4:54 PM CDT: Changes photos

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