The Cowtown Marathon came of age on a perfect Sunday morning with the beginning a new era that featured a field of elite international runners setting an unprecedented pace.
Kenya native Lamech Mosoti crissed-crossed the city’s streets that made up the marathon’s 26.2-mile course in a brisk 2 hours, 17 minutes, 12 seconds, one of three record times established in the 36th running of Fort Worth’s premier long-distance running event.
Ethiopian Dehininet Jara followed shortly after in besting the women’s field in an event-record 2:42:31, almost 2 1/2 minutes faster than the previous mark set on the old Stockyards course.
“The first half was very hard,” said Mosoti, referring to the more hilly side of the course, including the incline at Mile 10 over the Paddock Viaduct heading north over the Trinity River and into downtown. “I wanted to be in the big chair.
“I pushed. I was planning to run next week, but I don’t know now.”
Mosoti and Jara also cashed in by being the best of close to 2,500 marathon runners.
For the first time, race officials passed out prize money as part of the debut of the Cowtown Elite program.
Mosoti was awarded $2,000 for his victory and Jara $1,000. Both also split $5,000 for breaking event records in their respective races.
The two also were among 27 runners who earned a piece of $25,000 for eclipsing race records.
Mosoti, who ran a 5:13-minute pace, beat the event record of 2:17:35 set by Santos Ortega in 2000.
It could have been faster.
Getachew Asfaw, a native of Ethiopia who now lives in Maryland, set a blistering pace and led from Mile 8 to 17.5, before pulling up with what he described as a muscle strain on the side of his torso.
“That guy did a very good job,” said Mosoti, who trains in New Mexico. “He acted like a rabbit, a pacemaker. He pushed and pushed. He was leading and then he stopped.”
After passing Asfaw, Mosoti said, “I looked and nobody was with me.”
He coasted the next 8 1/2 miles to victory.
“We would have run a 2:14,” said Mosoti, 30. “But there was no need to use all my energy.”
Mosoti’s fellow countrymen Edward Tabut, 32, finished second with a time of 2:20:55, and Peter Kemboi, 30, promptly followed in 2:23:12.
All, along with Jara and women’s runners-up Camille Herron and Emily Field, were presented black cowboy hats as part of the celebration honoring the 27 runners who bettered race records.
One of those was last year’s men’s marathon winner, Keller resident Craig Ottman, who finished 30 seconds better than his then-record 2:36:22 but didn’t sniff Mosoti’s pace this year.
“I knew these guys were out of my league,” Ottman said. “In my wildest dreams I’m not going to run a 2:20-something.
“I knew if I ran my race, right around 6 minutes, I’d be fine. I stayed within myself and had 30 seconds to spare.”
Another was 2013 women’s marathon winner Elizabeth Eder, who sat out the marathon this year but won the half marathon, her third victory at Cowtown and second in two days.
Eder, 26, won the 10K on Saturday.
Her 5:58 pace and 1:18:05 finish was a new standard in that event, beating Jessica Smith’s Will Rogers course record of 1:23:43. Only Logan Sherman has won every event at Cowtown, including the 5K.
Eder said she might set her sights on that event next year and the 31-mile ultra marathon.
More important for Eder, she earned back some confidence after her disappointing finish at the USA Half Marathon Championship in January in Houston.
“I did about a-minute-and-a-half faster than Houston,” said Eder, who theorized that she might have been low on iron that day. “My legs were heavy.
“We were worried that it was going to be too humid” on Sunday. “But it was perfect.”