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Houck among top women finishers at Boston Marathon

Duluth runner Jennifer Houck finished 17th in the women's division -- third among American women -- in Monday's 114th annual Boston Marathon. Houck, 26, a former St. Scholastica runner and 2002 Cromwell High School graduate, finished in 2 hours, ...

Jennifer Houck
Jennifer Houck finished 17th in the women's division -- third among American women -- in Monday's 114th annual Boston Marathon.

Duluth runner Jennifer Houck finished 17th in the women's division -- third among American women -- in Monday's 114th annual Boston Marathon.

Houck, 26, a former St. Scholastica runner and 2002 Cromwell High School graduate, finished in 2 hours, 39 minutes, 2 seconds -- 50 seconds behind 16th-place finisher and three-time defending Grandma's Marathon champion Mary Akor. Paige Higgins of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the top American woman, in 13th place overall.

It was Houck's first time running the Boston Marathon. Houck's time qualifies her for the Olympic Trials in Houston on Jan. 14, 2012.

Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia took the women's title in 2:26:11, sprinting to the tape to win by 3 seconds in the event's third-closest women's finish.

On the men's side, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya set a course record with a winning time of 2:05:52 --

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82 seconds faster than the previous record, set in 2006 by four-time winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot -- no relation.

This year's victorious Cheruiyot finished 91 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Tekeste Kebede to give Kenya its 18th men's victory in 20 years.

American Ryan Hall, who finished third last year, missed another spot on the podium by 2 seconds, but his time of 2:08:41 was the fastest ever for an American runner in Boston.

More than 26,000 runners took part in the race.

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