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Kiprotich, Kay thrive in chilly conditions

04/28/2014, 12:00am EDT
By DAVID BRIGGS BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Kenyan, Fairview Park woman capture titles

Kiprotich, Kay thrive in chilly conditions

Tamara Marquardt, a Northview graduate who now lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, crosses the finish line inside the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl to capture the women’s half marathon. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

One was a done-it-all marathon veteran with a half dozen career victories, the other a 31-year-old first-time winner who only began running seriously after having her third child.

For both Geoffrey Kiprotich and Katie Kay, though, the day was cool all the same.

Kiprotich was just plain cold after winning Sunday’s Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon — "So cold," he said, shivering beneath a large foil sheet — while Kay called crossing the finish line inside the Glass Bowl as the top woman proof that "anything is possible."

"I never could have imagined this," said Kay, a Fairview Park native.

In the 38th and biggest Glass City Marathon, the winning pair of opposites headlined a wind-whipped day that featured more than 7,000 runners over three races — the 5K, half marathon, and 26.2-mile showcase.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2014 Glass City Marathon

Kiprotich, a 35-year-old Kenyan who trains in Toledo, endured a pair of small inconveniences. The race began just after 7 a.m. with the temperature at 37 degrees, which he called the coldest of his countless marathons — a résumé that includes wins at the St. Louis, Kansas City, and Akron marathons. And a two-car train threatened to nudge him off pace as he approached the 25-mile mark.

A course observer heard the bicyclist that was escorting Kiprotich shout, "Stop that train! Stop that train!"

Yet the train adjusted its speed, and Kiprotich, who broke away from the field after 18 miles, was in the clear. Wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts, Kiprotich finished with no challenger in sight in 2 hours, 24 minutes, and 2 seconds. He finished 74 seconds ahead of runner-up Abraham Kogo of Hebron, Ky.

What was next for Kiprotich?

"I do not have a lot of plans," he said, smiling. "Just take a shower and relax."

Kay, meanwhile, was less sure of the postvictory drill after dusting her personal record with a time of 2:56.26.

A former high school runner in suburban Cleveland who competed only one year in college at Mount Union, she figured her endurance days were over.

It was only after Kay had a third child that her sister got her "addicted" again to the running life, first with half marathons in 2010 and then with the whole thing. She had previously run eight marathons — including last year’s tragedy-scarred Boston Marathon — and set off Sunday to make the leap from good to elite.

Less than three hours later, Kay had done just that. She led nearly wire to wire as the course twisted through Toledo, Ottawa Hills, and Sylvania, pushing aside her previous watermark run by some six minutes. Crystina Ridenour, 27, of Fort Wayne, Ind., came in 27 seconds behind as the runner-up.

"This was a good day," Kay said. "I’m very excited. I’ve been trying to get a sub-3-hour time for the past year. I had a failed attempt at Boston, then just missed it at Akron last fall. So I felt like this was a big turning point for me. If I didn’t do it this time, it would have been really frustrating. It all came together."

The winners of the marathon each earned $1,000.

In the undercard races, reigning half marathon winner Julius Kiptoo repeated as champion in 1:06.58, while Northview graduate Tamara Marquardt was the top woman in 1:18.52.

Kiptoo, 36, who spends the spring through fall training in Toledo and the offseason tending his family’s farm in Kenya, just held off last year’s marathon winner. Evan Gaynor, a 25-year-old Delta native who set the course record last year with a time of 2:21.20, finished in 1:07.03.

Marquardt, now 25 and a research engineer at the Cleveland Clinic, ran away from the field on familiar turf.

"It's awesome," she said. "I loved running through Wildwood Park. That’s where I trained in high school, so it's exciting to come back home."

Joan Matthews, 57, of Maumee won the women’s 5K in 21:56. James Thorp, 23, of Toledo won the men’s event in 16:13.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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