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Shurkhno Sets State Record At Baltimore Marathon

A record 25,000 entrants took part in the race's 11th edition.

A record 25,000 entrants took part in the race’s 11th edition.

From: Running USA

Olena Shurkhno is now the fastest marathoner in Maryland state history. Photo:

BALTIMORE — If the name Stephen Muange looks familiar, it probably is because he has finished in the top 10 in many of the prestigious road races around America this year: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, Utica Boilermaker 15K, Peachtree 10K, Crescent City 10K, Crazy Eights 8K and Wharf to Wharf.

On Saturday, Muange, a speedy Kenyan runner who trains in the mountains of Las Cruces, NM, made the big step into the world of marathoning. With a stunning last-moment win at the 11th Under Armour Baltimore Marathon and a $25,000 payday, Muange already is planning a spring marathon.

“Today I was scared and I didn’t want to push the pace,” said Muange, a 30-year-old Nairobi resident, after clocking 2 hours, 15 minutes, 16 seconds. “It was my first marathon and I didn’t have any experience. Next time I will go out faster.”

For the women, Olena Shurkhno not only successfully defended her title from 2010, the Ukrainian also took down the women’s event and State record by nearly three minutes and earned $27,500. She toured the course in 2:29:11, dominating the second and more difficult half with a negative split.

“I knew the record, I was trying for the record,” Shurkhno, a 34-year-old who splits her time between her training camp in Russia and her home in the Ukraine, said through her agent Andrey Baranov. “The biggest challenge was running against the wind alone. I ran 2:28 at San Diego this year.”

The winds affected some of the 3,443 marathon starters more than others. Muange enjoyed the protection of the pack for nearly the entire race; Shurkhno was running solo from 17 miles on and took the brunt. In some spots, like Fells Point between 13 and 14 and around Lake Montebello between Miles 19 and 21, the gusts were heavy.

The winds, but more likely the hills, prevented Dave Berdan from notching a qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials at Houston in January. He missed the half-marathon mark of 1:05 by 50 seconds at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon last month and thought the 2:19 marathon standard would be easier.

Not on the hilly Charm City course. He led a huge pack of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners – by more than a minute after five miles – for nearly 11 miles before the pack swallowed him up. Then he latched on and was taken through the half at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 1:08:35.

“Nobody wanted to go with me,” said the 30-year-old Berdan, who ended up 10th in a big personal best 2:21:19. “They were going for the money. I was going for the time.”

The group of 16 elites began losing numbers as the race turned uphill, with Berdan going first and pre-race favorite and course record holder (2008) Julius Keter dropping off and back to 11th by the finish. Eventually, the lead contingent disintegrated into a six-pack by 23 miles and 2 three-packs by 24.

Muange just remained patient while Ethiopians Tesfaye Assefaudube and Ambesse Tolosa pushed hard on the last long downhill back into downtown Baltimore. As they passed the backside of Camden Yards nearly 100 meters to the 26-mile marker, Muange suddenly sprinted for the finish, much like he did in January at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin.

“I knew I had the speed,” Muange said. “Last year, I ran 27:14 for 10,000 meters and I ran an 8K in 22 minutes in August. I’m good in speed. I was not worried at the end.”

Tolosa followed Muange by four seconds in 2:15:20 and Assefaudube was another two seconds behind in 2:15:22. Kenyans and Ethiopians filled the top nine spots ahead of Berdan, with Kenyan Kipyegon Kirui and Ethiopian Tesfaye Alemayehu Sendeku coming from the second three-pack and rounding out the top five in 2:16:13 and 2:16:16 respectively.

Then the excitement of a new event and State record came shortly after. With a price tag of $2500 put on Iuliia Arkhipova‘s 2009 mark of 2:32:09, Shurkhno knew it was not enough to just beat the competition.

As the top women ran off her lead, Shurkhno patiently toured the first half of the course in 1:15:27. She had already run a 2:28 in San Diego earlier this year. “I started pushing the pace after the half marathon,” she said, which broke up the pack of five. By 20 miles at Lake Montebello, she had a commanding lead with only the record left in doubt. But a strong showing down the final long hill into downtown Baltimore sealed her record-setting performance.

Both Russian Ludmila Biktasheva (2:29:57) and Kenyan Hellen Kimatai (2:31:10) also surpassed the event record. Biktasheva, who took over second for good by Mile 20, ran a three-minute personal best. Kenyan Gladys Asiba, the 2007 race champion, finished eighth in 2:39:01.

Masters competitions in the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon were won by Alexey Khokhlov, a 40-year-old Russian living in Gaithersburg, Md., in 2:28:57 and local favorite 43-year-old Denise Knickman of Baltimore in 3:09:47. Each earned $1000 for their triumphs.

In addition to the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon, the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival – its largest field ever with 25,000 entrants – attracted another 9,235 starters in the half-marathon and 2,959 starters in the 5K.

11th Under Armour Baltimore Marathon
Baltimore, MD, Saturday, October 15, 2011

1) Stephen Muange (KEN), 2:15:16, $25,000
2) Ambresse Tolosa (ETH), 2:15:20, $14,000
3) Tesfaye Assefaudube (ETH), 2:15:22, $8000
4) Kipyegon Kirui (KEN), 2:16:13, $5000
5) Tesfaye Alemayehu Sendeku (ETH), 2:16:16, $3000
6) Kennedy Kemei (KEN), 2:16:20, $2000
7) Tariku Bokan (ETH), 2:18:51, $1500
8) Fikadu Lemma (ETH), 2:19:52, $1200
9) Richard Kessio (KEN), 2:20:13
10) Dave Berdan (USA / MD), 2:21:19

1) Alexey Khokhlov, 40, RUS, 2:28:57, $1000
2) John Piggott, 46, USA / VA, 2:37:27, $750
3) Matthew Glynn, 40, USA / NY, 2:44:11, $500

1) Olena Shurkhno (UKR), 2:29:11*, $27,500
2) Ludmila Biktasheva (RUS), 2:29:57, $14,000
3) Hellen Kimatai (KEN), 2:31:10, $8000
4) Natalia Sokolova (RUS), 2:32:53, $5000
5) Everlyne Lagat (KEN), 2:34:10, $3000
6) Mulu Seyfu (ETH), 2:36:01, $2000
7) Tezata Dengersa (ETH), 2:37:52, $1500
8) Gladys Asiba (KEN), 2:39:01, $1200
9) Tiringo Shirerawu (ETH), 2:40:43
10) Kara Price (USA / VA), 3:06:39
*State and event record (previous record, 2:32:09, Iuliia Arkhipova (KGZ) in 2009)

1) Denise Knickman, 43, USA / MD, 3:09:47, $1000
2) Alisa Drelick, 42, USA / PA, 3:22:59, $750
3) Ellen Komesarook, 46, USA / MD, 3:27:40, $500