There’s endurance, and then there is Martin Erl endurance.
Less than a week ago, the Wisconsin native competed in a 50-kilometer race in Glenbeulah, Wis. Saturday morning, running alongside thousands of others in the Kansas City Marathon, Erl was the first full marathoner to cross the finish line, claiming his first victory outside of his home state.
“When I was 18 I ran my first half marathon and it was crazy because I was never this fast,” Erl, 27 said, shortly after placing a medal around his neck.
With a final time of 2 hours, 24 minutes and 8 seconds, Erl set a personal record and claimed his first marathon title since winning the Milwaukee Marathon in April.
Kansas Citian Michaela Parisi won the women’s marathon with a final time of 2:59:47.
The KC Marathon is known for its hilly course, challenging runners with inclines that can cause heavy legs to give way. Steady rain throughout the first half of the marathon also made for tough conditions as roads became slick and eye protection became more of an issue.
But Erl set the pace from wire to wire, running out to an early lead and never looking back.
“I like running on my own, so I train by myself,” he said. “So a lot of the long runs that I do, it’s by myself.
“It’s easier, I feel, to run your own race versus when you’re in a group of people and it’s really easy to get sucked into someone else’s race.”
The 26.2-mile layout could even be seen as light work for Erl thanks to his experience with longer distances. Before his Milwaukee Marathon victory, Erl had recently finished a 100k race, making the 42.1k of a marathon look like a stroll in the park.
Erl also had the support of his brother and sister-in-law, who competed in the half-marathon and 5k race, respectively. His brother, Matthew, was there to cheer him on at the top of the hill ahead of the last half-mile of the marathon.
“I didn’t realize my brother was going to be just at the top of the hill around mile 25.5,” Erl said. “That was probably the toughest part of the course. I was ready to finish and going uphill and seeing him screaming at me was really awesome.”
In the women’s marathon, Kansas Citians saw one of their own cross the finish line first. This was the second win of Parisi’s career — she won the Chisholm Trail Marathon in Wichita on March 24.
“Just the support of the city and running through streets that I’ve run a million times before is a great feeling,” said Parisi, 23, who moved to Kansas City from St. Louis in 2014.
Parisi finished second in last year’s KC Marathon, just 54 seconds behind winner Emma Hauser. She actually might’ve won last year, she said, if not for a bathroom break midway through that Parisi said took longer than the margin by which she lost.
As for this year’s race? She still went to the bathroom, but she just made it a shorter break. In the end, she finished just under 10 minutes faster than her nearest competitor.
“Last year I came in second place — and that was my first marathon,” Parisi said. “This year to come back and win it was super cool.”
Joseph Moore won the men’s half-marathon in 1:06:36. Jessica Allen was the women’s winner in 1:19:14.