Ngetich, Akor win elite Grandma's Marathon titles

Wesly Ngetich of Kenya won his second Grandma's Marathon men's title this morning, beating more than 9,000 runners and the heat and humidity in the 26.2-mile race from Two Harbors to Duluth.

Wesly Ngetich crosses the finish line as the first finisher in the marathon with a time of 2:15:55 Saturday morning during the 2007 Grandma's Marathon. [DEREK MONTGOMERY/NEWS TRIBUNE]

Wesly Ngetich of Kenya won his second Grandma's Marathon men's title this morning, beating more than 9,000 runners and the heat and humidity in the 26.2-mile race from Two Harbors to Duluth.

Ngetich finished in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds -- well behind Dick Beardsley's course record of 2:09:37 set in 1981 and slower than his 2005 winning time of 2:13:18 -- but he ran alone for the final 10 miles to win by more than a minute and a half.

"The heat and humidity were really hard this year," Ngetich said through an interpreter at the Canal Park finish.

Fellow Kenyan Joseph Kahugu finished second in 2:17:29. Kahugu won the 2006 Las Vegas Marathon but dropped out of this year's Paris Marathon with blisters on his feet.

Australia native Andrew Letherby finished third in 2:18:00.


Mary Akor of Lomita, Calif., the third-place finisher a year ago, won the women's race in 2:35:40 to win the $10,000 first-place prize money.

Akor, running her fourth marathon this year, won her first Grandma's and was the first American to win the women's division since Floridian Mary Alico won in 2:32:42 in 1996.

Akor suffers from asthma, but handled the condition to win easily.

"I was having a little difficulty breathing," Akor said at the finish line. "I was saying, 'God, help me finish this race' because there hasn't been an American winner for so long. He answered my prayers."

-- Chad Johnson sprinted past running partner Luke Humphrey around mile 11 and went on to win the men's division of the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon.

The Thorp, Wis., native, a former University of Minnesota runner, finished the 13.1-mile race along the shores of Lake Superior in 1:05:18.

Johnson, who resides in Rochester Hills, Mich., trains daily with Humphrey, of Rochester, Mich., who finished second in 1:05:51.

Six-time champion Ryan Meissen was seventh in 1:08:42.


Paige Higgins of Littleton, Colo., easily won the women's division in 1:14:46, setting a personal record by more than 2 minutes. Brandy Erholtz, originally from International Falls and a current resident of Bailey, Colo., was second in 1:19:30.

St. Scholastica runner Jen Houck placed fifth in 1:22:40.

-- Bruce Deacon of Canada was the men's masters winner in 2:23:02. The women's masters winner was Ramilia Burangulova of Russia, who also finished second in the women's open division, in 2:38:55.

-- Rafael Jimenez of Spain, fourth in last year's men's wheelchair race, won this year's installment in 1:28:45.

-- Amanda McGrory of Champaign, Ill., defended her women's wheelchair title and set a new course record in 1:46:29, shaving two seconds off Candace Cable's 1999 winning time.


Saturday's Results



1. Wesly Ngetich, 2:15:55; 2. Joseph Kahugu, 2:17:29; 3. Andrew Letherby, 2:18:00; 4. James Karanja, 2:18.56; 5. Stephen Muturi, 2:20:27; 6. Nick Rogers, 2:20:35; 7. Allen Wagner, 2:21:23; 8. J.T. Service, 2:21:31; 9. MacHaria Yuot, 2:21:42; 10. Sage Canaday, 2:21:43; 11. Charles Kiplagat, 2:22:29; 12. Christopher Raabe, 2:22:32; 13. Bruce Deacon, 2:23:02; 14. Eric Blake, 2:24:35; 15. Jason Flogel, 2:24:49.


1. Mary Akor, 2:35:40; 2. Ramilia Burangulova, 2:38:55; 3. Tatiana Titova, 2:39:58; 4. Heather Hanscom, 2:42:02; 5. Kristen Fryburg, 2:42:27; 6. Sarah Hinkley, 2:47:03; 7. Jenna Boren, 2:47:44; 8. Melissa Gacek, 2:47:59; 9. Melinda Courage-Carlberg, 2:48:10; 10. Mindy Sawtelle, 2:50:26; 11. Heidy Lozano, 2:51:37; 12. Kathryn Masselam, 2:52:10; 13. Nicole Cueno, 2:52:42; 14. Aimee Phillippi-Taylor, 2:53:59; 15. Desiree Budd, 2:54:26.

Mary Akor
Mary Akor crosses the finish line in 2:35:40 as the first woman of the 2007 Grandma's Marathon. [DEREK MONTGOMERY/NEWS TRIBUNE]

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