ST. PAUL, Minn. -- An Ethiopian woman and a Kenyan man won $15,000 apiece on Sunday after their victories in the Twin Cities Marathon.
Sammy Malakwen, a 33-year-old Kenya native who lives and trains for part of the year in Two Harbors, finished in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 11 seconds in his first Twin Cities Marathon, just ahead of fellow Kenyans Joseph Mutinda, 37, in 2:13:24, and Weldon Kirui, 22, in 2:13:31.
Yeshimebet Tadesse-Bifa, 23, of Ethiopia, won the women's race in 2:28:24.
Malakwen had to fight through cramping in the thighs at about the halfway point of the 26.2-mile race, while Bifa said she was slowed by headwinds and the hills along the last 10 miles, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
Malakwen said he started running on his toes, which seemed to help stretch his muscles and relieve the cramping. He said about 20 men were in the lead pack up to about mile 19. With about two miles to go, Malakwen said, he made his move on his competitors.
"They resisted for one mile. The last mile, they didn't resist, and I was on my own," he said.
Bifa's time was more than 4 minutes faster than the women's runners up, Russian Nadezdha Leonteva, 27, at 2:32:52, and Emily Harrison, 25, of Flagstaff, Ariz., at 2:32:55. Bifa had trained to have a shot at the 2:26:51 women's course record, but she said she slowed down because she didn't have any competition to push her during the last 10 miles of the race.
"I'm incredibly excited to have won the race," she said through an interpreter. "God has really helped me along the way. I owe my victory to God."
There were 8,530 finishers in the marathon and 7,546 finishers in its 10-mile race. The weather was close to ideal, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s at the start and the high 50s when the winners crossed the finish line.
The marathon course began at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. It wound past the chain of lakes on the west side of Minneapolis, then headed east along Minnehaha Creek, crossed the Mississippi River into St. Paul and finished at the Capitol. The 10-mile race took a more direct route from the Metrodome to the Capitol.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)