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Kemoi, Edwards win Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

While the men's winner took a commanding lead early, the women's winner had to fight her way back up to the front.

Athletes running and celebrating at the finish line area of Grandma's Marathon
Daniel Kemoi, 35, of Kenya, crosses the finish line in Duluth's Canal Park to win the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on Saturday.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Daniel Kemoi took an early lead in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and held on to run the second-fastest time in the race’s history.

The 35-year-old from Kenya won the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 3 seconds. He was 18 seconds ahead of Kiya Dandena, 33, of Flagstaff, Arizona, who finished in second place.

Kemoi said with “perfect” weather and a “so very nice” course, he separated himself from the lead pack after just a mile.

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He had a race plan and didn’t want to wait on everyone else, he said.

So he ran the next 12 miles alone.

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“Where is my friend?” Kemoi said he thought when he would look behind him. “Is he coming, or did he die?”

Following his race plan worked.

Although it was his best half marathon time by 24 seconds, it was a little slower than he would have liked; his goal was to finish in under an hour.

He also fell short of the course record of 1:01:22, which was set in 2013 by Meb Keflezighi.

Kemoi said he was being a bit conservative with his pace as he’s been nursing a calf injury for the past month.

This is the first Grandma’s event Kemoi has run. But it might not be his last.

“Next year? I’ll be back,“ Kemoi said.

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Athletes running and celebrating at the finish line area of Grandma's Marathon
Rosie Edwards of Scottsdale, Ariz., raises her arms at the finish line of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on Saturday, June, 18, 2022, in Duluth. Edwards is the top female finisher with at time of 1 hour 12 minutes and 45 seconds.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Edwards bounces back

Rosie Edwards was in fourth when she stopped to use the bathroom about four miles into the half marathon.

In doing so, she lost contact with the lead pack.

“It was kind of lonely out there for those middle miles,” Edwards said.

But Edwards, 33, of the United Kingdom, caught back up, winning in 1:12:45.

“I was in fourth until about mile eight so I just had to keep keying off the girls in front,” Edwards said. “I knew them all. I knew they were strong competitors. So they really kept me going.”

Bloomington, Minnesota, native Elena Hayday, 22, finished second in 1:13:00. Hayday competed in cross-country and track and field at the University of Minnesota.

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This was Edwards’ first appearance in Duluth. She said she’d like to return for the full marathon. She ran the half marathon in preparation for the European Championships in Munich in August where she plans to run the marathon.

Edwards missed her best half marathon time by 19 seconds and would have liked to be under 1:12:00. But a win is a win.

“Any time you get a win, it’s a really special day,” Edwards said. “You can’t take it for granted.”

Athletes running and celebrating at the finish line area of Grandma's Marathon
Roger Laaksonen, of Duluth, waves to the crowd at the finish line of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on Saturday, June, 18, 2022, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Related Topics: GRANDMA'S MARATHONDULUTH
Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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