In marathon, winning can mean first place or just finishing

Casey Grove
Bill Taylor celebrates the finish of his marathon run. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester
Montreal runners head toward the finish along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in the half marathon and the 5.6-mile run events at the Mayor's Marathon events Saturday June 19, 2010 in west Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Miriam Kipngeno, center, won the 5.6-mile race in 33:59.0 and UAA teammate Shoshana Keegan took second in 34:05.9 at the Mayor's Marathon runs Saturday June 19, 2010 in Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Runners cruise West Northern Lights Boulevard shortly after the start of the half marathon and the 5.6-mile run at the Mayor's Marathon events Saturday June 19, 2010 in west Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Kira Crocker of Illinois sports local headgear on West Northern Lights Boulevard shortly after the start of the half marathon and the 5.6-mile run at the Mayor's Marathon events Saturday June 19, 2010 in west Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Team In Training runner Shannon Lindberg finishes the half-marathon with her legs adorned with names. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester
UAA runners cruise West Northern Lights Boulevard shortly after the start of the half marathon and the 5.6-mile run at the Mayor's Marathon events Saturday June 19, 2010 in west Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Holly Spohn-Gross spills a little water near mile-18 of the marathon run. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester
Darik Pickerel inspires fellow runners as they cruise West Northern Lights Boulevard shortly after the start of the half marathon and the 5.6-mile run at the Mayor's Marathon events Saturday June 19, 2010 in west Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Jennifer Jackson gets encouragement on the marathon course near Tudor Road. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester
Lisa Rieger, left, and Maia Claman finish their half-marathon run together. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Finishers are cheered at the West High School track. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
John Dietrich displays his accomplishment on his shirt. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Heather Hogge, left, and Renee Millard, both of Wasilla, run stride for stride into the finish of their marathon run. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 4,000 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
John Van Steenbe, of Flowery Branch, GA, runs the beginning miles of the Mayor's Marathon. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Ryan Couto rests on Bethany Bertrand at the finish area. Both ran the full marathon event. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Marathoners set out onto the course early Saturday. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Marathoners gather and stretch at the Bartlett High School start line. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Matthew Klundt prepares himself for the marathon before the start at Bartlett High School. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Jessica Clark and Nihayah Ferguson cheer runners as they head down Campbell Airstrip Road. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 3,800 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A marathon relay runner talks on the phone while running down Campbell Airstrip Road during Mayor's Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Marathoners stream down the bike path along the Glenn Highway Satruday morning. About 3,800 people participated in the events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Marathon and relay runners assemble at the start of Mayor's Marathon at Bartlett High School on Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Greta Cladouhos leans on her husband Joel Cladouhos after her marathon finish at West High School. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 3,800 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Erik Johnson runs toward a first place finish in Mayor's Marathon. He ran the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 42 minutes, 53 seconds.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Cups litter the roadside after a water station along the marathon course near the Fort Richardson overpass of the Glenn Highway. About 3,800 runners participated in the various events of Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Tara Sander, with Team in Training, Montreal, gives a high five and encouragement to a runner at mile 4 of the marathon.The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Tara Sander, left, and Alicia Talarico, right, cheer on runners at mile 4, near the Ft. Richardson gate. They are both with Team in Training, Montreal. The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Christine Jones, of Sutton, celebrates her marathon finish at West High. The Mayor's Marathon and Half-Marathon attracted about 3,800 participants on Saturday, June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Marc Lester / Anchorag Daily News Alexandra Swiatocha of Anchorage runs alongside her brother Greg Swiatocha during Mayor's Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010. Alexandra was the women's first place finisher in the race. 100619
Marc Lester / 2010
Lindsey Viltrakis of Anchorage (left) and Patrick McGannon run during the beginning miles of the marathon. The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Deborah Morales runs the first leg of the marathon for her team, the Born Runners.The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The 37th annual Mayor's Marathon had mixed weather for it's start Saturday June 19, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

The clock ticked toward 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the West High School running track as the last of the Mayor's Marathon participants neared the finish line.

They faced a deadline. Racers are told to finish in eight and a half hours in order for their time to be listed in the official results. Arrive too late, and you simply took a 26.2 mile tour of the city.

As the final seconds disappeared, a dozen or so volunteer coaches, some wearing tutus, jogged the last hundred yards with two remaining runners. The little group sang the Queen song "We Are the Champions" at the top of their lungs.

One of competitors, Christine Orth, burst into tears as she crossed the finish line. Orth, a California woman running with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team In Training, crouched down and covered her teary eyes with one hand. There was a finisher's medal around her neck.

Orth's running partner, Jodie Thomas, put a hand on her friend's shoulder.

"You did it. You did it," Thomas said.

For the fastest racers, the citywide marathon is a 150-minute dash across Anchorage trails. "Some people like me, I run for the time," said winner David Kiplagat, who arrived first at the finishing chute and quickly caught his breath before a large, cheering crowd.

But for Orth and hundreds of others in the field of 4,300 runners, the race is something very different.

"If the idea is you participated in a marathon, you went from Point A to Point B, you finished it. You are of equal status as someone who took two and a half hours," race director Michael Friess said.

While some marathons hold their runners and walkers to a more strict cutoff time, organizers of the Mayor's Marathon say participants of all speeds and fitness levels are welcome.

Several sunbaked hours after Kiplagat's arrival, Rich Wenrich sat in a wheelchair, guiding the last few racers from Hillcrest Drive into the final stretch. Not everybody can be first, he said, as maybe 20 or 30 remaining fans and volunteers milled about the finish line.

"Keep it coming!" Wenrich yelled to jogger Scott Lytle as Lytle marched up the hill. "One step at a time!"

Wenrich, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident several years ago, has run the race 30 times. This year he had trouble with his prosthetic leg.

"I can relate to being in the back of the pack," Wenrich said. "I know how great the support feels."

Anyone who finishes the course gets a T-shirt and a medal, along with loads of encouragement along the way, said Friess, the race director. But entrants who are not past Mile 19 by 2:30 p.m. -- six hours into the race -- are encouraged to drop out, he said.

"We don't force 'em out, we suggest it," Friess said.

Official finishers are expected to arrive at the West High chute within 8 and 30 minutes. (The race website on Saturday night listed finishers who took as long as 8 hours and 39 minutes.)

One veteran marathoner, Jon Nauman, was well ahead of that cutoff deadline despite stopping to walk after 13 miles. Nauman, 71, strode briskly through an aid station just before he crossed the Tudor Road foot-bridge at Elmore Street.

Nauman said he's finished the race 17 times in the past. His fastest times were about three hours. Lately, though, it takes him more like six hours, he said.

"Every year I get slower," Nauman said with a grin. "That doesn't bother me ... I'd like to demonstrate that I can do it."

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

Photos: Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon
By CASEY GROVE
casey.grove@adn.com