Mirth finally wins masters title
John Mirth's history in the Grandma's Marathon masters division left him skeptical about his place in today's race. The 46-year-old from Platteville, Wis., was reserved about a possible win after one third-place and three second-place masters fin...
John Mirth's history in the Grandma's Marathon masters division left him skeptical about his place in today's race.
The 46-year-old from Platteville, Wis., was reserved about a possible win after one third-place and three second-place masters finishes from 2004-07.
But Mirth's worries were unfounded as he won his first Grandma's Marathon masters title in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 1 second to place 24th overall.
During today's race, Mirth checked out bib numbers of elite masters runners to gauge his place.
He felt good about passing Kenya's Gideon Mutisya at the 23-mile mark, but didn't see Russia's Nikolay Kerimov, 40, who withdrew before the race.
Mutisya, 41, was the second master in 2:40:47, but he said leg cramps slowed him down during the last few miles.
At the 1999 Grandma's, Mirth led U.S. finishers in 13th place in 2:19:14, a time which qualified him for his third U.S. Olympic trials.
In his eighth Grandma's today, Mirth used a regressive strategy to victory. He paced the first 19 miles at around 5:40, before backing off to 6:10 for the final seven.
"I've run this race a lot of times and have gotten into a groove in how I want to run it," said Mirth, who wasn't passed during the race.
When Mirth turned 40, he thought he would continue racing marathons until 41, maybe 42, but he has done 14 marathons in six years.
Mirth's wife, Wendy, said he needed to keep running until he was 50 to stay ahead of their 14-year-old son, Joshua.
"You are going to have to keep up with him," Mirth recalled what his wife told him.
Last year, Mirth was the third master and 39th overall finisher in 2:30:57. In the three previous years, he finished second -- 2:29.09 in 2006, 2:26:41 in 2005 and 2:27:43 in 2004.
This year, he hoped for 2:30 and thought his place would be determined by who raced, not whether he met his goal.
"I thought I'd stay in second place," said Mirth, who also has a 12-year-old daughter, Heidi.
He competed today without his family in attendance.
"It used to be that they would come up with me and cheer me on," Mirth said. "They would say, 'Go, go.' Now, they've grown up and got tired of that. Now they say, 'We'll see you in a couple of days.' "
Mirth's family support might have remained in Platteville or with a cousin in Minneapolis, but he had already made plans to share his win with them.
"I'll have to take the family out for dinner."
SECOND GRANDMA'S TITLE
Former Grandma's women's overall winner Zinaida Semenova of Moscow, Russia, could see Mary Akor -- albeit far off in the distance.
At the 13-mile mark, Semenova, who won Grandma's in 2002, had Akor in her sights, but couldn't close the gap.
Semenova won the women's masters division in 2:43:28 to finish fourth, while Akor won the overall race in 2:38:50.
"[I'm] not accustomed to starting off fast," Semenova, 45, said through an interpreter. "[I'm] used to a slower pace. [I] still felt like [my] feet were stuck to the asphalt."
For Semenova, a three-time Twin Cities Marathon winner, Saturday's marathon was her first of 2008.