FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Laura Wright,
Public Relations Director
Exciting Races at the 29th annual Grandma's Marathon
Duluth, Minn: Clear, sunny skies greeted the 7,049 runners that lined up at
the starting line to compete in the 29th annual Grandma's Marathon at 7:30
this morning. The day produced some of the most exciting races in the
history of Grandma's Marathon.
The most eventful race came in the wheelchair division with near ties in
both the men and women’s races. Krige Shabort, 41, of South Africa led the
men’s race from the gun, but Jacob Heilveil, 35, of Bothell, Wash. was
never far behind. In fact, the 35-year old briefly took the lead between
the 20 and 25 mile mark. The duo were neck and neck down the homestretch in
the closest wheelchair division finish ever at Grandma’s. In the end
Shabort had the extra edge, crossing the finish line with a new course
record time of 1:26:01 (former record was 1:30:53, set by Eric Neitzel in
1998). Heilveil was a mere second behind in 1:26:02. Alan Bergman, 31, of
Canada came in third (1:27:01) and 2004 wheelchair division champion, Scot
Hollonbeck, 35, of Atlanta, Ga., was fourth (1:30:52).
A very similar scene unfolded in the women’s wheelchair division with
Christina Ripp, 24, Savoy, Ill. and Cheri Blauwet, 25, of Menlo Park,
Calif. racing together from the beginning. The two athletes, who trained at
the Courage Center in Minneapolis, pushed each other throughout the race,
eventually coming down the homestretch in a virtual deadlock for first
place. Ripp crossed the finish line first with a time of 1:46:46, with
Blauwet just one second behind in 1:46:47. Miriam Nibley, 27, or Savoy,
Ill. was third place with a time of 1:50:43 and Tricia Downing rounded out
the women’s wheelchair field in 2:15:07.
In the marathon foot race, Russian athletes, Mikhail Khobotov, Pavel
Andreev and Andrei Gordeev, distanced themselves from the field of 43 elite
male racers, and ran closely together through the first half of the race
with Khobotov in the lead. Almost immediately after the 13.1-mile mark,
Khobotov, 32, slowed his pace allowing Andreev, 35, and eventually Gordeev,
32, to surge ahead. At mile 15 it was still Andreev, Gordeev and Khobotov
running one, two and three, respectively, but Kenyans, Wesley Ngetich and
Simon Sawe were closing the gap. The race changed dramatically by the
20-mile mark with Ngetich moving into second place, Sawe taking over third
and Andreev still in the lead. With approximately two and half miles to go,
Ngetich passed Andreev and cruised into the finish line in 2:13:20. Sawe
was second in 2:13:35 followed by Andreev who ran a 2:13:47. Gordeev
finished in 6th place (2:14:54) while Khobotov did not finish the race.
Ngetich earned $8,000 and an additional $1,250 of bonus money for running
Jeffrey Jacobs, 40, of Roscoe, Ill. won the men’s masters division and
finished 17th overall with a time of 2:24:30. He will take home $1,500 in
prize money for his efforts.
Unlike in 2004 when she lead the entire race, two-time defending champion,
Fira Sultanova-Zhdanova, had tough competition today. Halina Karnatsevich,
35, of Belarus took the lead right from the start with Sultanova-Zhdanova
on her heels and Svetlana Demidenko just seconds behind.
Sultanova-Zhdanova, 44, of Russia moved into first briefly between miles 5
and 6.2, but fell back behind Karnatsevich again by the 10-mile mark.
Karnatsevich held the lead for the remainder of the race. Meanwhile,
Demidenko, 29, of Russia moved up to second place by the 20-mile mark, and
Sultanova-Zhdanova continued to slow. In the end, Karnatsevich crossed the
line in a new personal record time of 2:28:43 – six minutes, four seconds
faster than her previous best time, and the second fastest women’s time in
Grandma's Marathon history. Demidenko grabbed second place in 2:32:44, and
43 year-old Ramilia Burangulova took third overall and won the women’s
masters division with her time of 2:33:03. Sultanova-Zhdanova finished in
6th place with a time of 2:45:00. Karnatsevich will take home $8,000 in
prize money plus $10,000 in incentive money for running under 2:29:00.
The temperature at the start of the marathon was 57 degrees with clear
skies and a east wind of 5 miles per hour. A total of 9,690 people
registered for the 29th annual Grandma's Marathon, with 48 countries and
all 50 states represented. Out of 7,049 starters, there was an all-time
record of 6,885 finishers.
Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon course record holder, Ryan Meissen, 27, of
River Falls, Wis., earned his sixth victory on the 13.1-mile course with
his time of 1:06:40 – the sixth fastest time in the history of the race.
Michael Reneau, 27, of Houlton, Wis. was second in 1:06:43 followed by
Duluth native, Jeremy Polson, 27 who crossed the line in 1:08:54. Meanwhile
in the women’s division, 2004 runner up, Jen Blue, 29, of North Mankato,
finished first with a time of 1:17:45. Former St. Scholastica runner,
Desiree Budd, 25, crossed the line in second place in 1:18:37, and Johanna
Olson, 26, of Ketchum, Idaho was third with a time of 1:19:32.
A record number of 5,868 registered for the 15th annual Garry Bjorklund
Half Marathon, and of those 4,871 started and 4,827 finished.
Top ten results, overall wheelchair results and age division results are
included in the following pages. For complete results log onto
The date of the 2006 Grandma's Marathon weekend is June 15 through June 17
– we hope you can join us!
Presenting sponsors of Grandma's Marathon and supporting events are Wells
Fargo Bank of Duluth and Target Stores. Major sponsors are BP Products,
City of Duluth, Coca-Cola, Country Hearth Natural Breads, Dex Media, Duluth
News Tribune, Grand Casino Hinckley/Mille Lacs, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Lake
Superior College, Maurices, Michelina’s, Miller Hill Mall, Miller
Lite/Better Brands, Inc., Minnesota Power, Nike, Qwest, St. Mary’s Duluth
Clinic Sports Medicine, Stewart Taylor Printing, Toyota, Ultima Replenisher
and Verizon Wireless.