Kenyan Samuel Kipkosgei Malakwen wins Miami Marathon for second time
With the AmericanAirlines Arena serving as the neon-lit backdrop and the Freedom Tower across the street basked in ruby red lights, a massive, festive field took off Sunday in predawn darkness in the Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon.
When it was all over, Samuel Kipkosgei Malakwen of Kenya crossed the finish line first, winning the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours 19 minutes 46 seconds and earning a $2,000 prize.
Malakwen, 35, also won the race in 2012, but at that time by less than a second.
The runner-up: Kenyan Julius Kirwa Choge, 35, in 2:21:42.
The two broke away from the initial pack of four at the 15K mark, with Malakwen drafting behind Choge, his friend, until Mile 21.
“At the halfway point I saw he was pushing a lot and I sympathized with him,’’ said Malakwen, the father of a son and two daughters. “We were working like a team and I didn’t want to run away from him.”
But just after 21 miles, Malakwen took off toward the finish.
“I remembered two years ago,’’ he said. “With 7K to go, it’s not easy to catch up. I’m happy. Winning a race is always good. All the way people were cheering.’’
Defending women’s champion Mariska Kramer Postma, 39, of The Netherlands, won her second consecutive Miami Marathon in 2:49:28 — despite being nearly dehyrdrated from a severe bout of diarrhea that began five hours before the start.
Organizers said a combined field of 25,000 – the race limit – registered for the event.
The half marathon, which awarded $1,000 to the male and female winners, was won by Edward Tabut, 30, of Kenya in 1:06:45, with countryman George Towett, 29, the runner-up in 1:08:30. Both are from the Rift Valley and sons of farmers – Tabut of tea and corn farmers and Towett of wheat and dairy farmers.
Shannon Miller, 29, a fitness instructor from the Bronx, New York, won the women’s half marathon in 1:21:08. Miller, who grew up in Cleveland, is training for the 2016 Olympic Marathon and 10K in Brazil.
Ludovic Narce, 45, of Lyon, France, was the first wheelchair (hand-crank) to finish in 1:14:14. Women’s hand cycle wheelchair winner was Jacqui Kapinowski, 51, of Tequesta in 1:40:17.
Besides the runners themselves, thousands of cheering spectators lined the course and stood on the stairs of the Arena for the start. Behind them, the giant screen atop the Miami Heat’s home played videos of past Miami Marathons and also streamed live shots of runners gathering on Biscayne Boulevard.
Family members and friends hoisted colorful signs and cheered as the wheelchairs and athletes with disabilities took off at 6:05 a.m. At 6:15, the streaming pack of humanity followed. It took 38 minutes for the last runner to reach the starting line.
One hand-made, giant sign in green, aqua, orange, purple, blue, red and yellow letters: “If running was easy, it would be called your mother. Go Mom. Run Happy. We love you.’’
Madison Newsome, 15, a strawberry-blond from Greenacres, made the sign for her mom, Jo Ronk, an Atlantic High humanities teacher.
“It’s her first marathon,’’ Newsome said. “She was really excited. The most she had run before was 20 miles in 19-degree temperatures when we were in Indiana in December.’’
Ronk’s husband, Brian, was with Madison holding up his own sign: “Go Jo! Fast girls are more fun!’’
Two-time Latin Grammy Award nominee Ed Calle played a powerful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner just moments before the race began in extremely tough marathon and half-marathon conditions: 73 degrees with 87-percent humidity and seven-mile-an-hour winds. By 9:30 a.m., racers crossing the finish were doused by a rain shower, and a much needed dose of shade. At 10:15 a.m., it was 77 degrees.
“Good morning, Miami!’’ Miami-Dade commissioner Sally Heyman announced to the racers. “We offer a course of sunshine… no ice, no snow… and may you all run your personal best!’’