Kiplagat misses marathon record by 53 seconds

bbragg@adn.comJune 22, 2013 

— The man who used to own the Mayor's Marathon record was talking to the man who almost broke the Mayor's Marathon record on Saturday, and of course their conversation was about the record.

"That record's gonna go," Michael Friess told David Kiplagat.

"Well, it was going to go today," Kiplagat replied.

But it didn't.

Kiplagat ran the second-fastest time in the 40-year history of the Mayor's Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 22 seconds -- less than a minute off Michael Wisniewski's 2009 record of 2:22:29.

Kiplagat claimed his second victory in three years and $1,000 in prize money while shaving more than six minutes off his previous best in the 26.2-mile race across Anchorage.

Had his per-mile pace of 5:29 been about two seconds faster, Kiplagat would have collected another $5,000 for breaking the record.

"I've been trying to get this record," he said. "This is my fourth time. I had hoped I would get it, but maybe another time."

A field of 3,969 enjoyed beautiful weather -- sunshine, temperatures in the 60s, a little breeze -- and a festive atmosphere at the finish line, which this year was at the Delaney Park Strip instead of West High.

Runners had their pick of distances -- marathon, half-marathon, four-miler and two-mile Youth Cup. An event that historically draws considerable out-of-state participation, all four marathon and half-marathon titles went to Alaskans:

• Anna Dalton, a 2008 West High graduate and 2012 Occidental College graduate, won the women's marathon in 3:09:00, more than eight minutes ahead of second-place Kirsten Kolb. It was Dalton's second marathon.

• Monica Ross topped the women's half-marathon title in 1:26:19. Like she did the day she placed third in the Alaska Run for Women, Ross had to go from the finish line to her job selling running shoes at Skinny Raven Sports -- but at least this time she got to stick around for the awards ceremony.

• Aaron Fletcher, a 2009 South High graduate and soon-to-be sophomore at BYU, took the men's half-marathon victory in a dramatic duel with Alfred Kangogo. Fletcher opened a small gap in the final mile to win in 1:12:42, beating Kangogo, who jogged the final few meters, by 13 seconds.

Taking victories in the four-mile race were Matthew Komats of Anchorage for the men (24:15) and Presli Hutchison of Pocatello, Idaho, for the women (26:46). Hutchison finished sixth overall, one spot behind Marko Cheseto (26:32), the double amputee who runs on carbon-fiber running blades.

Youth Cup wins went to Aleutia Morris (12:19) and Michael Earnhart (11:11).

Ira Edwards of Anchorage, who was paralyzed in November 2010 when a tree fell on him while he was clearing a ski trail, raced the marathon in a handcycle and finished in 2:45:33.

'break that record'

Kiplagat, 29, was the first of several elite Kenyan runners to come to Anchorage via UAA, and Cheseto and Kangogo are among those who followed. The coach at UAA is Friess, who set the marathon record of 2:24:44 in 1987 and held it for more than 20 years before Wisniewski took it down.

Friess, race director of the Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon, would like nothing more than to see the record fall again.

"I want to see us going under 2:20," he said.

Next year, he said, Kangogo and Micah Chelimo, a two-time NCAA Division II champion in track and cross country and another of UAA's Kenyans, should be in position to join Kiplagat in making a bid for the record.

"We need to break that record," Kangogo said.

Kiplagat ran alone Saturday, posting a 10-minute advantage over his brother, runnerup Solomon Kandie of Albuquerque, N.M. Kandie clocked 2:33:28.

Kiplagat was on record pace through the first six miles but fell off that pace on the tank trails, a dusty, gravelly section of the course along the Chugach Mountain foothills. Runners leave the tank trails at Mile 15, descending Campbell Airstrip Road before heading down west on Tudor Road on their way to Goose Lake and the Chester Creek trail.

"I thought maybe he started too fast, but by the time he rolled through the third checkpoint (around Mile 18) he was back on pace," Friess said. "He faded a little at the end."

surprised winner

The women's marathon belonged to Dalton, 23. But she didn't really know she was in control during the race, and even after she crossed the finish line and accepted congratulations for her victory, she was a bit shellshocked.

Dalton was in second place until Hallidie Wilt, the winner of April's Alaska Heart Run running her first marathon, dropped out around the halfway mark.

"I was trying to stay conservative and be smart," Dalton said. "I don't know when (Wilt) dropped out, and I didn't really want to know that she dropped out, because that might have made me slow down a little."

Dalton ran a 3:18 in Los Angeles and was eyeing something in the 3:00-3:05 range Saturday, but the final six miles were a grind.

"I felt pretty good through Mile 18," she said, "but it's 26 miles."

Several minutes after finishing, Dalton was still wrapping her head around the idea that she is the Mayor's Marathon champion -- the hometown winner of her city's biggest marathon.

"I still don't know if that has quite registered," Dalton said.

Dalton joins a list of winners that includes women's record holder Chris Clark (2:38), the 2000 Olympic marathoner. Her high school coach, Will Kimball, was a two-time champ and Olympic Trials qualifier. Another of her former coaches, Kristi Waythomas, owns the women's half-marathon record of 1:18 that has stood for two decades.

"I saw Kristi out there," Dalton said. "She was cheering for me at Mile 19. I was feeling awesome then. Hopefully she didn't see me at Mile 24."

intense duel

Separated by no more than a stride for nearly all of the men's 13.1-mile half-marathon, Fletcher and Kangogo provided the day's biggest drama.

"That's the most intense one-on-one battle I've ever had," Fletcher said. "We were so close together that at the crest of one hill, I took a faltering step and he ran into me."

Fletcher didn't open a gap until almost the end.

"Alfred was drafting the entire 13 miles," he said. "On the coastal trail we hit a big headwind and I thought, this is gonna be hard.

"On the last hill he pulled up next to me and started to go, and I said, 'It's time to go.' ''

Kangogo, 26, has terrific finishing speed -- he is a two-time Division II All-American in the 1,500 meters -- but he couldn't catch Fletcher.

"That last hill there, I lost focus a little bit," he said. "I never lost hope, but I made a mistake, so I need to correct that."

Neither man is in peak condition -- Kangogo, a nursing major at UAA on track to graduate in December, is in the midst of clinicals and isn't training as much as usual, and Fletcher is just getting back into training after returning in December from a two-year Mormon mission to Poland.

Fletcher said he weighed 175 pounds when he got home from Poland but is down to 160, maybe five pounds from his optimal weight. He said his missionary work left him with little opportunity to run.

"I averaged about 10 miles a year," Fletcher, 21, said of his time in Poland. "I jump-roped a lot and did sit-ups."

shooting for boston

Saturday was a good day for the Rosses -- Monica won the women's half-marathon and husband Jerry finished fourth in the men's marathon in 2:50:53, performances that move them toward their goal of qualifying for next year's Boston Marathon.

"I wasn't planning on running a marathon this year," Monica said, but the bombings at Boston changed those plans.

Ross said she's not in ideal running shape, so she opted for the half-marathon Saturday and will shoot for a Boston qualifying time at either the Big Wild Life marathon in August or an out-of-state marathon in the fall.

Her performances Saturday and at the Run for Women two weeks ago indicate that she's in pretty good form. Ross was two minutes off her personal-best in the half-marathon, which she registered on a flat course; Saturday's course was a hilly leg-burner.

Ross beat runner-up Emma Garrard, who clocked 1:27:38, by nearly 80 seconds. The win marked the third straight year since she turned 45 that Ross has won one of the city's major footraces -- she won the 2011 Alaska 10-K Classic, the 2012 Alaska Heart Run, and now the Mayor's half-marathon.

"I don't feel the pressure like I used to -- I'm 47 years old," she said. "Mentally when you feel that way, it makes it easier."

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.

Mayor's Marathon

Top 10


1) David Kiplagat, 2:23:22.70; 2) Solomon Kandie, 2:33:28.81; 3) Tom Ritchie, 2:36:26.92; 4) Jerome Ross, 2:50:53.87; 5) Ryan Beckett, 2:56:24.47; 6) Erin Phillips, 2:56:43.43; 7) Christopher Ashland, 2:56:59.24; 8) Gary Krugger, 2:57:12.87; 9) Sean-Patrick Oswald, 2:58:03.35; 10) Gerald Thompson, 2:58:59.04.


1) Anna Dalton, 3:09:00.55; 2) Kirsten Kolb, 3:18:35.76; 3) Holly Grant, 3:22:48.79; 4) Roberta Braker, 3:28:30; 5) Stacey Buckelew, 3:29:00; 6) Mandie Samuels, 3:29:25; 7) Sara Sayre, 3:33:44; 8) Laura McDonough, 3:34:20; 9) Jennifer Masini, 3:34:20; 10) Polly Wheeler, 3:35:05.

Handcycle -- 1) Ira Edwards, 2:45:33.

Mayor's Half Marathon

Top 10


1) Aaron Fletcher, 1:12:42.33; 2) Alfred Kangogo, 1:12:55.16; 3) Zac Barrett, 1:15:03.54; 4) Ryan Quinn, 1:15:53.74; 5) Jason Dowell, 1:17:08.24; 6) Jeff Young, 1:20:35.57; 7) Vin Robinson, 1:23:07.45; 8) Spencer Mitton, 1:23:22.65; 9) Philip Sebastiani, 1:24:01.01; 10) Liam McMahon, 1:25:31.41.


1) Monica Ross, 1:26:19.20; 2) Emma Garrard, 1:27:38.11; 3) Kinsey Apperson, 1:30:47.45; 4) Kelly Quinn, 1:31:38.47; 5) Laurie Rasmussen, 1:32:13.70; 6) Greer Gehler, 1:32:53.61; 7) Danielle Pratt, 1:33:28.51; 8) Michelle Baxter, 1:34:50.10; 9) Brittany Sedlacek, 1:34:58.18; 10) Sarah Aarons, 1:35:43.38.

Mayor's 4-Miler

Top 10


1) Matthew Komats, 24:15.26; 2) Gillean Szweda Mittelstadt, 24:41.76; 3) Ronnie Franklin, 26:01.56; 4) Sebastian Szweda Mittelstadt, 26:20.19; 5) Marko Cheseto, 26:32.79; 6) Jason Grenn, 26:57.90; 7) Christopher Correnti, 27:37.75; 8) Bob Davis, 27:51.16; 9) Ron Downey, 28:41.84; 10) Jason Ruiz, 29:03.25.


1) Presli Hutchison, 26:46.78; 2) Ashley Martin, 27:22.04; 3) Heidi Reifenstein, 27:38.64; 4) Rachel Duffy, 29:34.96; 5) Olivia Hutchings, 30:34.96; 6) Fiona Fick, 31:03.58; 7) Molly Bauder, 31:38.70; 8) Mimi Allen, 31:46.44; 9) Krystal Nelson, 31:53.01; 10) Kelly Albin, 31:56.82.

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