FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Awol Wins SunTrust Richmond Marathon in Photo Finish
Richmonders Smith, Ackerly One-two in Women's
Koborsi and Chepkorir Win NTELOS 8K
Richmond, VA-With a lunge at the tape, Mohamed Awol, an Ethiopian living in
New York City, won the SunTrust Richmond Marathon here today in the most
sensational finish in this event's 30-year history.
"It took the most concentration of any marathon I've run," said Awol, 29,
who finished the 26.2-mile race in 2:20:20, one-tenth of a second ahead of
David Cheromei, 28, a Kenyan, living in Lynchburg, VA.
On a cool breezy day with temperatures in the '40s, Awol and Chermoei broke
away from the lead pack and ran side by side for the last several miles,
but it was Awol who claimed the $2,500 check for first place. Wesley
Chelule, 33, a Kenyan, living in Mobile, Alabama, was third at 22:22:55.
In the women's race, Richmond's 18-year-old wunderkind Casey Smith beat
last year's SunTrust Richmond Marathon winner Maureen Ackerly by almost
four minutes, finishing in 2:44:57. "I'm ecstatic," said Smith, who
qualified for berth in the United Stated Women's Olympic Marathon Team
Trials in Boston in April. "I've been working so hard for this, and I had
some injuries, but I never gave up. The whole Richmond running community
has been so supportive - the RVA Runners, the Richmond Road Runners Club -
so many people have all been so great."
Ackerly, 38, a Richmond lawyer and mother of two, ran her personal best but
fell just short of her goal to qualify for the Olympic trials in front of
her hometown crowd. She finished in 2:48:37, a personal best, but just shy
of the 2:47 qualifying time. "There was a great group of girls out there,"
said Ackerly, who warmly congratulated Smith at the race's conclusion. "It
was a great race to be in. I'm not as disappointed as I thought I'd be."
"She'll have another chance to try for it," said Ben Ackerly, her husband
and coach. "She has until March to qualify, so she still has time."
Elena Paramonova, a Russian living in Florida, was third in 2:51:10.
Both the men's elite and the women's elite results provided exciting
conclusions to the celebrations that marked the SunTrust Richmond
Marathon's 30th anniversary. Several runners known as the "Old Lions" were
feted for their participation in each of the 30 Richmond Marathons.
Wertenbaker Turner, 60, of Charlottesville, VA; Garland Carlton, Jr., 66,
of Midlothian, VA; John Deeter, 64, of Richmond; John Loughran, 62, of
Sandston, VA; and Philip Gibrall, 57, of Richmond were given a special
start and media attention and crowd recognition at the finish to
commemorate their accomplishment.
And in addition to the athletic drama of its 30th anniversary, the SunTrust
Richmond Marathon smashed registration records were smashed for both the
marathon and the NTELOS 8k with 5,109 entries in the marathon and 6,006
entries in the 8k. The Richmond Times-Dispatch Kids Run drew 627 entries.
And next year's addition of a half marathon as part of the event promises
even larger numbers.
In the NTELOS 8k men's race, Rod Koborsi, 24, of Boston, MA, was first
(22:40) ahead of Abiyot Endane, 21, an Ethiopian friend of Awol's who also
lives in New York, (22:49). Samuel Kosgei, 21, a Kenyan living in Chapel
Hill, North Carolina, was third (22:55).
Caroline Chepkorir, 20, a Kenyan living in Boyersford, PA, was first
(26:20) in the NTELOS 8k women's race. Julie Culley, 26, of Arlington, VA,
came in second, (26:53) and Maria Busienel, 22, a Kenyan living in
Charleston, WV, took third place (27:29).