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US Marathon Titles Won at Twin Cities

ARCINIAGA, BERSAGEL WIN USA MARATHON TITLES
By David Monti, @d9monti

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

ST.
PAUL, MINN. (06-Oct) — Nick Arciniaga and Annie Bersagel both won
their first national marathon titles here today on a spectacular fall
morning in the Twin Cities. Arciniaga, who lives and trains in
Flagstaff, Ariz., had to sprint for his title, while Bersagel, an
international lawyer living in Norway, used a slow and steady approach
to secure the win. They posted times of 2:13:12 and 2:30:53,
respectively, and each earned $25,000 in prize money.

MEN STICK TOGETHER

Arciniaga,
30, who had the fastest personal best in the field (2:11:30), stayed
tucked into a large lead pack in the early stages of the race. Tyler
McCandless, who set a course record at the Kauai Marathon last month,
spent most of the first half in the lead, tailed closely by Arciniaga,
Josphat Boit, Shadrack Biwott, Sergio Reyes, and Christo Landry. The
group reached the halfway mark in 1:06:59, well within the abilities of
everyone in the group.

“That was part of my race plan,”
Arciniaga told Race Results Weekly. “Just run with the lead group and
not do too much work. Tyler was one of the few guys who was willing to
lead. He was setting a good clip.”

Arciniaga’s race almost fell
apart when one of his hamstrings began to tighten up. He had planned to
be the aggressor in the second half, looking to hurt his opponents with
well-timed surges, but instead had to let the others go when the pace
picked up, then slowly catching up to them again. He was tested most
severely in the 16th mile when Biwott threw down a 4:49 mile.

“I
didn’t know how fast I was running, really,” said Biwott, a former
Oregon Duck. “I know I made a move and I broke a little bit.
Four-forty-nine? I don’t know what to say.”

Arciniaga had to
let the others go, then caught them again. He said this happened a few
more times in the race, until the final time in the 24th mile.

“I had to do some work to catch back up at 24 miles,” he explained. “We were all just together running two abreast.”

In the next mile, Arciniaga mustered all of his resolve, and at the 25-mile mark he made his bid for victory.

“At mile 25 I just decided it was time to go,” he said. “I decided nobody was going to pass me at that point.”

Reyes,
Landry and Biwott had fallen back, but Boit stayed glued to Arciniaga.
They were together at the 26-mile mark, and Arciniaga said he began
sprinting with everything he had.

“I was just pushing as hard as I could,” he recalled. “I’ve never run that fast at the end of a marathon.”

Boit
could not match Arciniaga’s leg speed, and had to settle for second in
a personal best 2:13:14, three seconds behind. Biwott crossed third
(2:13:26 PB), Reyes was fourth (2:13:34 PB), and Landry fifth (2:14:44
PB). McCandless faded to finish outside of the top-10 in a career best
2:16:46.

“I’m so excited right now,” said Arciniaga. “I’m on
such a high. My body is so elated, such a feeling of, I mostly can’t
describe it. I’ve never felt this way before.”

BERSAGEL COMES FROM BEHIND

Bersagel,
30, was running in third place at half way, allowing Wendy Thomas of
Windsor, Colo., to lead along with Atalelech Asfaw of Albuquerque, N.M.
Thomas hit halfway in an aggressive 1:14:18, with Bersagel 32 seconds
behind. Although she was catching up, Bersagel said she wasn’t speeding
up.

“That’s a little bit of an illusion,” she explained. “I
think we were all slowing down, it’s just who was slowing down the
least.”

Disaster struck Thomas in the second half of the race.
She began to feel sick to her stomach, and as she ascended the first
part of the course’s most significant hill in the 21st mile, her legs
were visibly streaked reddish brown.

“About 17 I got sick, so
couldn’t take Goo or anything anymore,” Thomas told Race Results Weekly
after the race. “You know, you never want to be that girl getting sick
in the race. I just kept pushing through and I fell at 25 and passed
out, but I’m OK. Once you get to 25 you have to finish.”

Dennis
Barker, the coach of Team USA Minnesota here, observed at the 17 mile
mark when Thomas was still leading that the race would ultimately go to
Bersagel.

“By the next point (21 miles), Annie will be in the lead,” Barker told Race Results Weekly “She’ll win it.”

Bersagel remained cautious all the way to the finish, knowing that at any point in a marathon the wheels can fall off.

“I
thought anything could happen those last few miles,” she said. “You
know, you hit the wall and it’s just in a matter of a few meters and
all of a sudden things turn around completely.”

It was not to
be. Cheered on by her parents Matthew and Ruth, who described seeing
their daughter win as “electric,” Bersagel sailed to victory, scoring a
13-minute personal best. The surprise runner up was 26 year-old Laura
Portis of Kalamazoo, Mich., who only finished 95th at the USA Olympic
Marathon Trials last year. Like Bersagel, she slashed her personal best
by nearly 11 minutes to finish in 2:33:46.

“I’ve never been
able to do a race, I guess, the right way where you just run the first
20 miles and race the last 10-K,” Portis said. “And today, actually, it
was the first time it all came together for me. I was able to execute
that, so it was pretty exciting.”

The third podium spot went to
Esther Erb, 27, of Richmond, Va., who ran a two-minute personal best of
2:34:32. Michele Lilienthal, who lives in Minneapolis, finished fourth
(2:34:50 PB), Asfaw was fifth (2:34:56), and Thomas was sixth
(2:36:01). Pre-race favorite Megan Peyton finished ninth in 2:38:58 in
what was her first completed marathon.

In the USA masters
marathon championships which were also held here today, Mbarak Hussein
(2:20:20) and Sheri Piers (2:38:33) won the titles. For Piers, 42, it
was her third consecutive national masters title, but she said she was
dissatisfied with the race.

“I went out too fast,” she said of
her 1:17:48 first half. “I knew it was going to get me in the end. It’s
OK. I hung in there. I was waiting for Elva (Dryer) to come up to run
with somebody, but I always seem to be alone, not in the front, not in
the back, but kind of in this place alone. It’s hard to run there, you
know?”

For two-time Olympian Elva Dryer, who ran her first
competitive race at any distance since 2009, she finished third in the
masters category in 2:44:23. Sporting a bandage on her right knee after
the race because she fell hard at around five miles, Dryer had this to
say when asked about her return to elite competition.

“A rude awakening,” she said.

PHOTO:
Annie Bersagel (right) overtakes Wendy Thomas in the 21st mile of the
2013 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, on her way to victory in a
personal best 2:30:53

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