Delelecha’s dedication pays off in speedy women’s field at Grandma's MarathonYihunlish Delelecha was working at a 7-Eleven in Washington, D.C., when she came to the conclusion that she would never become an elite runner unless she dedicated herself full time to the sport.
By: By Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
Yihunlish Delelecha was working at a 7-Eleven in Washington, D.C., when she came to the conclusion that she would never become an elite runner unless she dedicated herself full time to the sport.
So the Ethiopian quit her job about a year ago and increased her training, and the results have been nothing short of outstanding.
Delelecha won the Grandma’s Marathon women’s race in a personal record 2 hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds on a cool and cloudy morning today. Riding a nice tailwind, a strong field saw 10 runners break 2:38 and the top six runners set PRs, including one by nearly 10 minutes.
Delelecha, 29, was less than 4 minutes off the course record and lopped nearly 5 minutes off her previous PR, a 2:35:36 set at the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. That was also her first marathon victory in the U.S.
She earned $10,000 for the victory, plus $2,500 for running sub-2:31:00.
“This victory was even sweeter because my time was so much better,” Delelecha said through a translator. “The weather was very helpful.”
Kenyan Everlyne Lagat of Albuquerque, N.M., took second in 2:31:32, while Dot McMahan of Rochester Hills, Mich., took third in 2:31:50. Cromwell native Jennifer Houck was fifth in 2:33:01.
Delelecha broke away about halfway through the 26.2-mile race and increased her lead with about five miles to go.
“That’s when I knew I had it,” she said. “But everybody is prepared for it, and everybody wants to win, so I had to keep running strong.”
Delelecha, Lagat and fourth-place finisher Doreen Kitaka ran up front while Dot McMahan and Houck were farther back. They ran their own race and eventually reeled in the front-runners, with both of them looking very strong surging across the finish line.
“She came from nowhere,” Lagat said of McMahan.
Lagat, 30, finished third at Grandma’s in 2010.
“I’m going to keep coming back until I win,” Lagat said with a laugh.
The same might be said of McMahan, a Wisconsin native whose parents live in Aitkin, Minn.
The 34-year-old was emotional following her third-place finish at her first Grandma’s Marathon.
“I was just really excited once I saw the clock and knew I was going to be under 2:32. That was a huge PR,” said McMahan, whose previous best was a 2:35:02 at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. “We just kept running our pace and they came back to us.
“I can’t say anything negative about today. I really can’t. The crowd was great. Five miles from the finish they were going nuts. That’s amazing. They were out there in their lawn chairs. It was like a Fourth of July parade.”
This is the best McMahan has felt in a long time. She has a 2-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, and the return to elite running following her pregnancy has been grueling and painful as she has suffered lower back pain.
“It’s been a tough two years, and getting back to this point has been a long process,” McMahan said. “Having a child has created additional challenges, but it’s also very rewarding. I just got to hear her little voice on the phone say, ‘Good job, mommy!’ That made my day, right there.”