Sometimes, even marathon champions are questioning their decisions as they cross the finish line. Such was the case Saturday morning at the conclusion of the Kansas City Marathon.
“I was a great feeling,” said women’s overall winner Alice Anderson of Marion, Iowa. “But, really, I was thinking that I wanted it to be done about six miles earlier.”
The notoriously hilly course and relatively high temperatures and humidity resulted in some overall slower times, but a pair of first-time marathon winners were able to break the tape. Joining Anderson was men’s overall winner Brian Lewis, a Nebraska native who has lived in Basehor, Kan., for the last dozen years.
Lewis’ time of two hours, 43 minutes, 26 seconds won the men’s race by more than three minutes, while Anderson’s finish at the 3:04:18 mark was good enough for first by more than six minutes.
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Lewis, who logged the best of his 12 marathon times in last year’s Kansas City race, settled into the third-place slot early in the race before taking the lead just past the halfway point. He was 26 seconds behind leader P.J. Greer at the 5K mark and nearly a minute behind him at the 10K mark. By the 13.1-mile mark, Lewis had pulled within 22 seconds of new leader Tyler Polshak.
“About halfway I could see the leaders coming back to me, and at that point I knew I had a pretty good chance,” Lewis said.
By the 21-mile mark he was nearly four minutes ahead of Christian Lewin, and Lewis finished the race almost 3 1/2 ahead of him.
The key to the second-half performance? Consistency, Lewis said.
“It was warm and humid, so I wanted to make sure I kept a nice, steady pace and not push into the red zone too much,” Lewis said. “I think I did a pretty good job of that. The breeze really helped as well. You just try to stay steady and don’t overdo it. I had to keep focusing on staying within myself.”
Lewis — who said he started running seriously eight years ago — took seventh in last year’s KC marathon by logging a personal record of 2:39:25, aided by what he said was “almost ideal” weather. But he said he would gladly take the slightly slower time this year for the win.
“It feels amazing, especially to do it in the town I’ve lived in for 12 years,” he said. “I love this course and I love this town. It’s a great feeling.”
While Anderson also finished short of a PR, her win on the women’s side was never in much doubt. She fought off Kristina West and Brooke Waters for leads at every checkpoint and had managed to build a 4 1/2 -minute lead by the 21-mile mark.
“The heat didn’t necessarily bother me too much,” said Anderson, who has now competed in six marathons, including Boston. “The hills were relentless. It’s a hilly course, but it’s fun.”
Anderson, who has run competitively since high school, finished ahead of second-place finisher West, who logged a time of 3:11:12. Jenna Mutz took third.