FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Monti, Media Consultant
Larry Grollman, Race Director
KRYZA AND CHESANG WIN UPMC Health System/City of Pittsburgh Marathon
Kryza Defends 2001 Title and Sets Personal Best;
Van Dyk sets Wheelchair Course Record
PITTSBURGH (May 5) -- Violetta Kryza of Poland became the first woman since
American Margaret Groos in 1989 to defend her title at the UPMC Health
System/City of Pittsburgh Marathon. She finished the 18th edition of the
event in 2:31:45, the fastest winning time by a woman here since 1990.
"I'm so very happy," said the 33 year-old athlete from Olsztyn who
acknowledged that she needed to run faster in order to win this year.
"This year I had strong competition."
Kryza did much of her training in the mountains of southern Poland, building
the strength necessary to break the race open up the notorious Forbes Avenue
hill in the 11th mile. It was there that she left her chief rivals,
Magdalena Lewy of Berkeley, Calif. and Larisa Timkina of Moldova.
"I decide to run fast mile in 11 miles," said Kryza in her best English.
"I passed every girl there."
Her head and blonde pony tail bobbing, Kryza extended her lead with every
mile, quickly putting the race out of reach. On the final approach to the
stadium finish at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kryza would
not let up, realizing that she would set a personal best time and earn an
additional bonus for breaking 2:35:00. As she exited the tunnel and hit the
stadium track which surrounds the football field, Kryza sprinted to the
finish line, five minutes ahead of Lewy, who would finish second.
"The last time I did it for my father who died," she said recalling her
victory from last year which occured in the wake of her father's death.
"I run my personal best here."
Lewy, who set a personal best time of 2:36:48 and qualified for the U.S.
Olympic Team Trials Marathon in 2004, struggled to maintain her pace after
stomach troubles struck her past the half-way point of the race.
"After mile 15 I started to experience stomach pain," said the Polish-born
Lewy who was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2001. "At mile 20,
or so, I had to use the bathroom."
In the men's race, 39 year-old Reuben Chesang of Kenya, a former 1500m
Commonwealth Games gold medalist, prevailed over two compatriots, Eliud
Kering and Gilbert Rutto, who had formed a three man breakaway in the 19th
Off of a slow first half pace of 1:08:28 where ten men remained in
contention, the lead pack slowly dwindled from to seven by the 17th mile:
Kenyans Chesang, Kering, Rutto, Jacob Losian, Andrew Musuva, and James
Bungei plus Moroccan, Abderazzak Haki. Two miles later, Kering pulled
Rutto, Chesang and Bungei away from the others; Losian and Haki would drop
out and Musuva and Bungei would eventually fade to fourth and fifth,
The trio stayed together for the next five miles, but a pattern was
emerging. Kering would surge, and Chesang and Rutto would cover the move.
"We pushed the best," summarized Chesang of the three Kenyans who fought for
In the final mile, Kering made one more strong move which dropped the 41
year-old Rutto. Chesang fell behind by three seconds as Kering led them
around Heinz field before the pair would enter the tunnel to the playing
field with about 250 meters to go. Chesang kept his fast 3:36.70 1500m
speed at the ready.
"I was ready for anything," he said.
The taller Kering, with his long loping stride, misjudged the right-hand
turn into the tunnel, nearly overshooting it. It was that one extra stride
that opened the door for Chesang who shot past his rival on the inside.
When Chesang hit the track inside the stadium he was several strides ahead
and sprinting hard. It was too late for Kering to make up the ground.
"I did not know it was very sharp," said Kering of the turn into the tunnel.
"I accept what I did in the race."
Chesang crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of Kering in 2:14:53, a
personal best. Rutto crossed third in 2:15:34, winning the masters
The top U.S. finisher was Peter Julian of Atherton, Calif. He finished
sixth in 2:19:08, securing an "A" qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials
Marathon in 2004.
Wheelchair star Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa rebounded smartly from his
Boston Marathon victory last month, easily winning the wheelchair division
in a course record 1:34:49. Like Kryza, he also took home a special bonus
bringing his total payday to $2,500.
"The times speak for themselves," commented Van Dyk on the difficulty of the
Pittsburgh course versus Boston's where he finished more than 11 minutes
faster. "It's a very difficult course."
By the start of the event at 7:35 this morning, 5,884 athletes had
registered for the Marathon, Mellon Marathon Relay and UPMC Health Plan 5-K
Run/Walk. They were treated to bright sunshine and temperatures in the
1. Reuben Chesang, 39, Kenya, 2:14:53 ($7,500)
2. Eliud Kering, 27, Kenya, 2:14:56 ($5,000)
3. Gilbert Rutto, 41, Kenya, 2:15:34 ($2,500)
4. Andrew Musuva, 32, Kenya, 2:17:58 ($2,000)
5. James Bungei, 35, Kenya, 2:18:26 ($1,500)
6. Peter Julian, 30, Atherton, Calif., 2:19:08 ($3,500)#
7. Kefah Keraro, 32, Kenya, 2:22:07 ($500)
8. Rich Stark, 36, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2:28:31 ($2,000)#
9. Nelson Ndereva, 34, Kenya, 2:28:56
10. James Hamilton, 33, Imperial, Pa., 2:32:31 ($1,500)#
#Prize money includes U.S. citizen bonus
1. Violetta Kryza, 33, Poland, 2:31:45 ($10,000)*
2. Magdalena Lewy, 28, Berkeley, Calif., 2:36:48 ($7,500)#
3. Larisa Timkina, 35, Moldova, 2:39:07 ($2,500)
4. Tatiana Maslova, 35, Russia, 2:39:14 ($2,000)
5. Elvira Kolpakova, 29, Russia, 2:43:40 ($1,500)
6. Leteyesus Berhe, 23, Ethiopia, 2:46:09 ($1,000)
7. Mary Alico, 38, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2:49:54 ($2,500)#
8. Wendy Nelson-Barrett, 33, Lebanon, Pa., 2:51:26 ($1,500)#
9. Sandra Fischer, 40, Allison Park, Pa., 2:52:23 ($1,000)#
10. Tammy Slusser, 37, Monroeville, Pa., 2:53:25
*Includes $2,500 bonus for sub-2:35:00
#Prize money includes U.S. citizen bonus
Wheelchairs (No Female Competitors):
1. Ernst Van Dyk, 29, South Africa, 1:34:49 ($2,500)*
2. Tony Nogueiri, 33, Glen Ridge, N.J., 1:58:49 ($1,000)
3. Dane Pilon, 41, Fayetteville, N.C., 1:59:37 ($850)
*Includes $500 bonus for race record