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Grand Rapids Marathon #6: Jack Frost Nipping

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The streets of Grand Rapids were filled with runners Sunday morning as nearly 3,000 runners headed out to take on the challenge of the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon and Half Marathon. In all, 1,555 people finished the 26.2 mile route and 1,437people completing the 13.1 mile run.

Top men's finishers for the marathon were: Jeff Scovill (Minneapolis) 2:31:14; Christopher Bain (Rockville, MD) 2:37:12; David Mart (Zeeland) 2:38:38; Tyler Bishoff (Columbus, OH) 2:41:31 and David Vandermeer (Zeeland) 2:42:32. Other top LOCAL men's finishers included 9th place finisher Brad Remenak (Grandville) 2:46:58; 12th place finisher Brent Malaski (Grand Rapids) 2:48:37  and Scot Ursum (Grandville) was13th with a time of 2:48:42.

Top women's finishers included: Hannah Norton (Union City, MI) 2:58:51; Kim Fleet (London, Ontario) 2:59:23; Emily Weinmann (Washington DC) 3:05:35; Jessica Sowles (Muskegon) 3:09:59 and Melissa Sunderman (Ann Arbor) 3:12:53. Other top LOCAL finishers are: 8th place Jill Van Tol (Caledonia) 3:14:52; 10th place Carrie Kutzli (Conklin) 3:16:11 and Nancy Agrillo (Grand Rapids) in 11th with 3:15:42.

In the Half Marathon top male finishers included: Ryan Hackett (Shepard, MI) 1:17:31; Kevin Deyo (Traverse City) 1:18:50;  Henry Hofman (Grandville) 1:21:20;Doug Vaughn (South Lyon, MI) 1:21:38 and Andrew Dalton (Holt, MI) 1:21:57. Other top LOCAL finishers: 8th place Ben Pickel (Grand Rapids) 1:22:02 and Warren Zimostrad (Wyoming) 12th 1:23:17 and Bradley Clark (Grand Rapids) 1:23:50 for 13th place.

Women Half Marathon top finishers include: Kylen Cieslak (Livonia) 1:20:33; Jessica Graf (Fremont) 1:21:24; Heidi Gibbons (Jenison) 1:26:23; Laurie Swaney (Kalamazoo) 1:26:23 and Melissa Curry (Grand Rapids) 1:28:36. 7th through 11th place finishes were scored by LOCAL women including Amy Corrigan (Wyoming) 1:29:27; Beth Ciangi (Lowell) 1:30:03; Robyn Arp (Byron Center) 1:32:15; Sarah Boerma (Grand Rapids) 1:33:10; Abby Geurink (Hudsonville) 1:33:38.

Race day weather was chilly, with 8 a.m. temperature around freezing. The course was sprinkled with dicarded clothing items as runners warmed up - gloves, hats and second-best tee shirts hit the road like fall leaves. The air temperatures didn't hit the 45 degree mark until nearly noon. For some runners, the weather was ideal. Others might have liked it a tad warmer. "Ten more degrees would have been nice," said WGVU's Shelley Irwin who completed the marathon in 4:29:38. This finish time was right where she expected to land. Some unexpected left knee pain slowed her down some, but she was happy to finish a half minute faster than her last marathon some 12 years ago. "We're supposed to get slower as we age, right?" she said. She also plans to tackle a few more marathons in the coming year.

First time marathoner Kate Washburn also did well in the cool temperatures.

"I did really well – five minutes ahead of my goal: 4:24:55. I’ve never been so happy to see a finish line – somehow, I found the energy to sprint the last stretch! I thought I’d be crawling across that finish line.  It was the most amazing feeling of accomplishment I’ve ever had," said Kate.  The support of family and friends helped her through the last miles. Between her husband and father popping out on the course to cheer her on and her friend Fran who ran along with her at mile 23 and gave her a push ahead of the pace leader, Kate felt like she finished strong. "Now that I know what to expect I'd like to improve my time. Maybe Chicago next year," she said. Her post marathon treat: a day off from work and a masage and facial. "My legs were so sore Sunday night I could barely walk. But by Monday they were better," she said. 

Don Kern, director of the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon was pleased by the the reaction of runners to the newly added downtown loop, "It was well-executed by our staff and I had great reactions to new pieces of the course," he said. The chilly but windless morning brought runners over the slightly slick Sixth Street Bridge with a glass-like Grand River below. The rose-colored sunrise reflected in the river and it made for a wonderful experience. 

And all those discarded clothes - usable pieces will be washed and donated to places like Goodwill and Love, Inc. Bad stuff becomes rags. Just like home.

Full race results at

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