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American wins Boston, Juneauites set personal records

36,000 runners cover 26.2 miles through 8 cities

Posted: April 21, 2014 - 11:02pm
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Juneau's Mansour Alzaharna with his participation medal at the finish of the 2014 Boston Marathon on Monday.  COURTESY PHOTO
Juneau's Mansour Alzaharna with his participation medal at the finish of the 2014 Boston Marathon on Monday.

Meb Keflezighi, 38, set a personal record of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds to win Monday’s 118th annual Boston Marathon, posting the fastest time ever by an American, and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo defended her women’s title in a new course record of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 57 seconds.

Juneau’s Mansour Alzaharna, 53, also ran his fastest time ever, posting a 3:25:51 and automatically qualifying for next year’s run as well.

“It feels so good,” Alzaharna said on a cell phone call just across the finish line. “I am standing in the finish area. The crowds along the course were so incredible. I will be back next year.”

Juneau runners in the race included Dr. John Bursell with a finishing time of 3:08:34, Crystal Dooley finishing in 3:09:29, Jennifer Marsh in 3:44:05 and Jamie Bursell in 4:48:49.

Race temperatures were 45 degrees at the start and reached over 70 as the last runners came through.

“The last two miles really got me,” Alzaharna said. “I think they were 10 minutes each. My legs started to cramp up. I shortened my stride and everything.”

John Bursell, age 50, and Dooley, 29, had the fastest per mile averages for Juneau runners in the event with Bursell hitting 7 minutes and 12 seconds and Dooley 7 minute 14 seconds. Bursell was the ninth fastest Alaskan finisher and Dooley the tenth.

Bursell had time breakdowns through the race that included a first 5k of 0:20:56; at the 10k mark 0:41:22; 20k 1:22:28; half marathon 1:27:00; 25k 1:43:01; 30k 2:04:40; 35k 2:27:40; and 2:52:26 at the 40k point. Bursell finished 3,848th overall, 3,542nd for men and 204th in his division.

Bursell was on his projected pace for the first 18 miles but then became dehydrated.

“It was quite a bit slower than I had hoped,” Bursell said. “I think I let myself get behind on fluids and it slowed me a bit in the last miles. I had expected to run faster the last 10 kilometers instead of slower.”

Dooley was the fastest Alaskan female finisher. She had race splits showing a 5k of 0:21:13; 10k 0:43:49; 15k 1:06:36; 20k 1:28:59; half marathon 1:33:41; 25k 1:51:31; 30k 2:13:44; 35k 2:36:555; and 40k 2:59:47. Dooley placed 4,030th overall, 339th for females and 279th in her division.

Alzaharna, age 53, finished 8,031st overall, 6,502nd for men and 656th in his division. His race breakdown shows a 5k time of 0:22:32; 10k 0:45:24; 15k 1:08:57; 20k 1:32:39; half marathon 1:37:49; 25k 1:56:27; 30k 2:21:48; 35k 2:47:49; and a 40k 3:14:03. Alzaharna averaged 7 minutes and 52 seconds per mile.

Marsh, 32, placed 13,621st overall, 4,358th for females and 2,863rd in her division. Her race breakdown included a first 5k of 0:23:58; 10k 0:49:18; 15k 1:15:14; 20k 1:41:15; half marathon 1:46:42; 25k 2:07:01; 30k 2:34:55; 35k 3:02:47; and 40k 3:31:36. Marsh averaged 8 minutes and 33 seconds per mile.

Jamie Bursell, 51, placed 25,941st overall, 11,227th for females and 1,177th in her division. Bursell’s race breakdown was 5k 0:29:21; 10k 0:59:32; 15k 1:29:45; 20k 2:00:43; half 2:07:32; 25k 2:34:24; 30k 3:12:37; 35k 3:52:07; and 40k 4:32:08. She averaged 11 minutes and 1 second per mile.

“It was a lack of preparation,” Jamie Bursell said. “I just did it for the experience and it was tough. The crowds of people were incredible. There were crowds of people the entire way. People so psyched up and cheering, it just went on and on. Last year when I went out on the course to wait for the front runners there were not near as many people. This year it was just packed. That was fun.”

The sheer number of racers made it hard to pass in the first portions of the race.

“The crowd was the best part,” Alzaharna said. “The support. People cheered from the beginning on. There were too many runners in the beginning, you couldn’t pass any people, you could not go around them and had to go at their pace. The first five or so miles were like that. When I got to mile 10, I was able to get my pace going and never looked back. It was an up and down course. It was hard but if you compare it to Juneau it was not bad. I just focused on the run.”

John Bursell enjoyed the tight running pack.

“It is actually nice having a large group of people a head of you at the start,” Bursell said. “It keeps you from going too fast in the beginning down hill portion, which is a good thing.”

Anchorage’s Tim Ritchie, 40, averaged 5 minutes and 56 seconds per mile as the fastest Alaskan male runner, finishing with a time of 2:35:27. He placed 194th overall, 171st for men and 12th in his division. His race splits were a 5k of 0:18:10; 10k 0:35:38; 15k 0:53:11; 20k 1:10:57; half 1:14:45; 25k 1:28:46 30k 1:48:00; 35k 2:07:58; and a 40k of 2:27:28.

No U.S. runner has won the Boston Marathon since 1985 when Lisa Larsen-Weidenback took the women’s race. The last American man to win was Greg Meyer in 1983.

Champaign, Illinois’ Tatyana McFadden, who was born in Russia and spent her childhood in an orphanage there, defended her women’s wheelchair title with a time of 1 hour, 35 minutes, 6 seconds. She turned 25 on Monday.

South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, age 41, won his 10th men’s wheelchair division in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 36 seconds.

New Jersey’s Samuel Spencer, 52, won the men’s handcycle in 1 hour, 18 minutes, 34 seconds.

Massachusetts athlete Jessica Kensky, 33, won the women’s handcycle in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 13 seconds.

The official race registration showed 35,755 runners with 32,408 unofficial starters. The field included 5,000 runners who could not finish last year due to the two bombs that marred that race, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

This year’s race featured many who had victims names scrawled on their bodies and race bibs, honoring the dead and wounded. One victim, Celeste Corcoran, now a double amputee finished this year’s race with the aid of her sister Carmen Acabbo and daughter Sydney, who was also wounded last year.

The theme “Boston Strong,” the unofficial slogan adopted after the terrorist attack, was prevalent among the record number of racers. A moment of silence was observed at 2:49 p.m. Monday at the finish line, the time and area that the bombs went off last year.

“The highlight was the people of Boston and the surrounding communitites who were so supportive,” John Bursell said. “There were thousands and thousands of people all along the course and there was really a lot of positive energy the whole way, especially as you got closer to the finish line. For me, my race wasn’t going so well but as I got closer to the finish line it was easier to accept because so many people were cheering you on. They would see your name on your bib or where you were from and cheer you on by name or by Juneau. It made it easier than it would have been.”

Added Jamie Bursell, “What was really amazing is that the people were thanking the runners. Thanking the runners for giving them their town back. Everybody wanted to be there and it was a total stand that Boston is stronger and we won’t let them win.”

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