FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Liz Caldwell
Kenya Native, Iowan Win
Third Annual Little Rock Marathon
LITTLE ROCK, AR - John Weru, a Kenya native who lives in Mountain View,
Calif., and Christy Nielsen of Council Bluffs, Iowa, won the men's and
women's categories of the third annual Little Rock Marathon held today in
The third annual event featured a new course, a $17,000 cash purse for the
top winners, and two governors who ran the full marathon – Arkansas Gov.
Mike Huckabee and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack – among other things. The Little
Rock Marathon also holds bragging rights for the world’s largest finisher's
medal, weighing in at one pound.
Weru, 25, posted a time of 2:24:10. This was his seventh marathon. He said
he won three of the five he entered last year, and entered the Little Rock
Marathon because he had been training and he felt his body was primed to
race. It was his second time in Arkansas, having run the Firecracker 5K in
July 2003. "It feels great and I am very happy to win," Weru said.
The race also marked the seventh marathon for Nielsen, 30, with a time of
2:58:45. She said she had not been training recently for a marathon, but
decided to enter at the suggestion of her friend, Machelle Cochran of San
Antonio, who won the women’s half marathon. "This is really hot (weather)
for me," Nielsen said at the finish line, holding up her swollen hands as
the temperature neared 60 degrees.
Both surpassed last year's winning times of 2:34:30 for the men's and
3:17:40 for the women's categories. Weru's and Nielsen’s times were the
first for this year's course, which was altered for the second year in a
row because of construction in the city. This year the change eliminated
several miles along the Arkansas River, resulting in a faster, more
enjoyable course, said course designer and race Director Bill Torrey.
Huckabee, who began training for the marathon – his first – after last year
after losing 105 pounds, crossed the finish line in 4:38:31. He was
followed nearly 50 minutes later by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. Huckabee's wife,
Janet, also participated in the marathon in the walking division.
Gov. Huckabee, 49, said the race was difficult, but exhilarating. "I
wouldn’t trade it for the world… I think this was tougher than elections,
and those are tough." He said the cheering spectators along the route "was
a real key. You couldn’t do it without those folks there."
The number of race entries has increased more than 25% from last year, race
officials said. "We had entrants from 43 states and three foreign
countries," said Greg Hatcher, Little Rock Marathon race chairman. "More
than 49% of those running the full marathon were from outside the state."
About 3,830 runners took to the streets under sunny skies that eventually
got into the mid-60s. About 3,540 of them ran either a full marathon, half
marathon or four-person relay marathon, with the remainder participating in
a 5K. Last year, the marathon event drew nearly 3,000 runners, while the
inaugural race had 2,200 runners.
For the first time ever, the Little Rock Marathon awarded a purse worth
more than $17,000 in cash and prizes to top finishers in male and female
divisions of the marathon, half marathon, master's marathon and master’s
half marathon. First place in the marathon received $2,000 each, second
place received $1,500 each, third place received $1,000 each, fourth place
received $750 each and fifth place received $500 each.
In the half marathon, first place received $750 each, second place received
$500 each and third place received $250 each. In the master's marathon (age
40 and older), first place received $500 each, second place received $250
each and third place received $100 each. In the master's half marathon,
first places received $250 each, second place received $200 each and third
place received $100 each.
Second place finishers this year were Titus Mutinda, 40, of Waynesville,
Ohio, at 2:25:42, and Leah Thorvilson, 26, of Little Rock at 2:59:45.
Placing third were Andrew Musuva, 35, of Santa Fe, N.M., at 2:26:38, and
Sara Major, 24, of Pittsburg, Kansas, at 3:11:36. Placing fourth were
Michael Wardian, 30, of Arlington, Va., at 2:27:13 and Betsy Meacham, 40,
of Little Rock at 3:19:33. Fifth place went to Glen Mays, 34, of Little
Rock at 2:30:50 and Alice Stewart, 38, of Little Rock at 3:22:08. Mays won
the men’s overall last year, while Meacham was second and Stewart was third
in last year’s women’s overall.
Chris Lamps, 36, of Little Rock won first place in the wheelchair division
with a time of 1:54:34. It was his first marathon and included a spill
after a car got on the course. "I went wide and flipped," he said, adding
that some spectators who happened to be occupational therapists helped him
back on his bike. A wheelchair basketball player, Lamps said he decided to
enter the race after his cousin from North Carolina decided to run it.
Terry Blackwell, 58, of New Orleans was second in the wheelchair division
at 2:15:44. Dick Pace, 55, of Monette was third at 2:16:27. Pace won the
division last year.
Winning the men's master's division was Tom Dever, 47, of Terre Haute,
Ind., at 2:36:26, followed by Garry Partridge, 50, of San Antonio, at
2:47:44 and Tom Jacobs, 41, of Kansas City, Mo. At 2:49:09.
The women's master's division winner was Marla Rhoden, 49, of Topeka,
Kansas, at 3:24:23, followed by Joyce Florance, 49, of Bossier City, La.,
at 3:27:44, and Chris Fraser, 41, of Brentwood, Calif., at 3:32:59.
Maciek Miereczko, 25, of Searcy won the men's half marathon at 1:08:59,
followed by Kevin Kendrick, 41, of Conway at 1:16:34 and Karl Lenser, 46,
of Conway at 1:17:59. In 2004, Lenser won first and Dendrick was second.
Machelle Cochran, 32, of San Antonio won the women's half marathon at
1:26:14, followed by Pam Sneed, 49, of Cleveland, Okla., at 1:29:42 and
Heather Butler, 25, of Shreveport, La., at 1:30:28.
John Slate, 49, of Overland Park, Kansas, won the men's walking division at
4:45:12, followed by Larry Liszewski, 47, of St. Louis at 5:11:14 and Bill
Richardson, 56, of Hot Springs at 5:19:49. Liszewski won first place last
The fourth annual Little Rock Marathon is set for March 5, 2006. For more
information go to www.littlerockmarathon.com.
The 3rd Annual Little Rock Marathon was presented by the Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette. The race also was sponsored by adidas, The Hatcher
Agency, Little Rock Convention & Visitor.s Bureau (LRCVB), Arkansas
Specialty Orthopaedics, Healthy Arkansas, Clear Mountain, Magna IV, Crown
Royal, Datamax, Fence World, Lemon Grass Design Studio, The Little Rock
Rotary Club, Diamond Bear Brewing Co., KARK Channel 4, B98.5, Arkansas
Children’s Hospital, Alltel Corp., Macaroni Grill, Bedford Camera & Video,
The Janet Jones Company, KATV Channel 7, Stephens Inc., KTHV Channel 11,
QualChoice, Hugg & Hall, Alice 107.7, Papa Johns Pizza, Fox 16, Riggs Power
Solutions, UPN 38, Pepsi, Landers, City of Little Rock, SBC, Delta Dental,
Easy Runner, MEMS, Unum Provident, arkansasrunner.com, Metropolitan
National Bank and JP Fitness.