As expected, one of the world’s top ultra runners dominated the Cowtown Marathon’s field of 550 ultra marathoners in record time on Sunday.
Michael Wardian, a four-time USA Track and Field Ultra Runner of the Year, sped around the 31-mile course in 3 hours, 21 minutes, shattering the record by slightly more than 10 minutes.
The time represented his best since overcoming a number of injuries, including five hernias and five stress fractures in his pelvis the past couple of years.
“I thought the course was fair, and my pace felt pretty comfortable. I felt strong,” said Wardian, 39, of Arlington, Va. “I’m really happy with how my body and legs are feeling.”
Wardian, a former lacrosse player at Michigan State, is prepping for the 50K national championships on Long Island, N.Y.
“I’ve always wanted to do this race, so it was fun to check out Fort Worth and the Stockyards. There’s nothing better than running around the city to get a feel for it.”
He’ll be back
Men’s marathon winner Lamech Mosoti all but guaranteed his return to Fort Worth for next year’s Cowtown Marathon.
He praised the course and the weather, not realizing, of course, this area’s potential for any assortment of climatic possibilities this time of year.
“I’ve got to come back and defend my title,” said Mosoti, whose personal best in the marathon is 2 minutes, 13 seconds. “Everything is very nice, the course and the people.
“The people outside kept cheering. You depend on them. Two guys were playing the American anthem ... they were so good.”
Even the Kenyans were slightly taken aback by the course’s notorious Miles 9 and 10 uphill over the Paddock Viaduct, which has proved costly to a number of marathoners.
“Wow,” Mosoti said. “That’s the killer of everybody.”
Can’t touch that
Dallas resident Natalie Merrill finished third in the women’s half-marathon, some six minutes behind winner Elizabeth Eder.
The two will be teammates next month in the Texas Independence Relay, a 200-mile trek from Gonzales to San Jacinto, so Merrill, 29, had her competition well scouted.
“I didn’t even try to catch up with her,” Merrill said of Eder, adding that she was about a minute slower than last year’s time in the half. “She’s just a ball of energy, so encouraging to me and amazingly talented.
“Even with her running the 10K Saturday, I knew she was going to beat me by 5 or 6 minutes. I was running for second.”
If only ...
The two top finishers in the women’s marathon both took a trip to the medical tent after their races.
Runner-up Camille Herron was visibly exhausted upon completing her 26.2 miles. She said she hadn’t fully recovered from running the Mercedes Marathon a week ago in South Birmingham, Ala.
There she qualified for her third U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I was gassed,” said Herron, 32, a resident of Oklahoma City. “I wanted to drop out in the beginning.”
Her husband, who road a bicycle along her route, encouraged her to stay in.
It paid off. Herron got a second wind, she said, around Mile 20 and improved her pace from 2:50 to a finish of 2:45:54 and claimed a piece of the $25,000 divvied up among those who eclipsed course records.
Herron called her 25th marathon one of the hardest. She has won 11.
Eventual champion Dehininet Jara spent post-race receiving treatment.
“I think if I had been fresh, I’d have won,” Herron said. Of Jara, “she was definitely struggling. I could see her.”
Just a workout
Women’s ultra marathon champion Brenda Carawan of Round Rock is a globetrotter. Her race Sunday was a training run. She’s heading to Italy for a 125-mile road race and a 100K in May.
“I went out the first 12 miles staying pretty easy knowing I’d have to make up toward the end,” Carawan said. “I kept telling myself, ‘Stay the course, stay happy and run easy.’
“It started getting warmer so I started feeling better.”
Her strategy worked. Carawan set a new standard in the women’s ultra division, becoming the first to complete the 31 miles in a sub-four hour time at 3:54:20.
“I can’t believe it. I knew the record was at 4 hours, so I tried to run as close to 4 hours as possible.”
Learning from the best
Carlos Arias’ triumph in the men’s half-marathon seemed an unlikely accomplishment until one learned that the UT Arlington freshman has trained with the best in the world.
Arias and a friend traveled to Kenya for a stint in the High Altitude Training Center a few years back.
The Houston native used some of that knowledge, not to mention “kicking it in in the end,” to finish at 1:10:54 in his first 13.1-mile race.
Arias runs cross country and long-distance track and field for UTA, which was at the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championships over the weekend.
The Houston native didn’t make the traveling squad, so instead of sitting around all weekend, Arias figured he’d test himself.
“I’ve been training and I didn’t want my training to go to waste,” Arias said. “I was skeptical because I wasn’t sure my training for track would carry me over, but it was a good day.”
Arias set a pace for himself while in a pack of marathoners. They split at Mile 10, where Arias then knew he was in the lead.
“I learned a lot of techniques to better myself, discipline and training methods,” he said of his month in Africa.
Keller High School senior Austen Dalquist, who has signed to run at Arkansas, was second at 1:14:10.