FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Audra Fleming
Kenyan’s Late Surge Trumps Competition
at 2005 Country Music Marathon
NASHVILLE, TN, April 30, 2005 —Defined by close competitions where anything
and everything has happened in the final mile, today's 6th annual Country
Music Marathon lived up to its heritage of heart-stopping finishes when
Kenya’s Nephat Kinyanjui powered through a 5:00 26th mile to pass long-time
race leader Yuriy Hychun of Ukraine just a half-mile from the finish to win
Nashville’s signature running event by 27 seconds in 2:15:37. Another
Kenyan, 2000 and 2004 champion Luke Kibet, also went by Hychun to take
second place, trading positions on the winner’s podium with Kinyanjui from
2004. Hychun finished third in 2:16:10.
"Last year Luke overtook me at the end," said Kinyanjui, the 27 year-old
champion. "So I was afraid to go out alone too soon. But at the end I
felt very strong, and had a strong kick left when I needed it."
In the women's race, Russia's Irina Safarova used a 5:38 18th mile heading
into Bicentennial Mall to pull away from a pack of four which included
two-time Country Music champion Aurica Buia of Romania, 2004 Taipei
Marathon champion Natalia Volgina of Russia, and 24 year-old Ethiopian
Yihunilish Bekele. She sealed her win with two more 5:35 miles, then
cruised to the Coliseum finish line through Shelby Park to score a 2:33:53,
the second fastest winning time in Country Music history.
"After sixteen miles there was a moment where the other girls slowed down,"
said Safarova. "I realized this is the time. I must go now."
In 2004 Irina ran three marathons by June, and felt very tired. So she
took time off after a third place finish at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in
San Diego, and focused on just the Country Music Marathon in 2005, which
turned into a winning strategy. 2000 and 2001 Country Music champion Aurica
Buia of Romania won runner-up honors in 2:35:40.
The rains that lingered in the area all week long blew out the night before
the race leaving overcast skies with light misty conditions, excellent for
marathon running. Yuriy Hychun and Russia’s Mihail Iveruk used the ideal
conditions to blow through a 5:00 opening mile and a 5:09 second to open a
thirty second lead on a chase pack of four Kenyans and three Ethiopians.
By six miles Andrei Gordeev of Belarus closed to join his eastern European
colleagues, and together they built a 1:30 lead on the Africans through a
1:07:53 half-way split.
"We thought they were in the (accompanying) half-marathon until 13 miles,"
said 2000 and 2004 champion Luke Kibet. "When we realized they were in the
marathon, we began to push."
Platinum recording artists Marty Roe and Jimmy Olander of Diamond Rio, who
headlined the post-race concert two years ago, ran the Country Music ½
Marathon raising over $20,000 for Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Nearly 18,000 runners from all 50 states and 10 foreign countries descended
on Nashville for the sixth annual event.