Kenyan's 'practice' run in half-marathon turns into victory

| Monday, May 7, 2012, 1:04 a.m.

The way Julius Koskei figures, running competitively always beats practice.

So instead of a speed workout, the 29-year-old Kenyan often will run a 10K or a half-marathon to build leg strength.

Suffice to say, Sunday's “practice” was a good one: Koskei won the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon — 13.1 miles — finishing in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 57 seconds to beat countryman Julius Kogo (1:03:03).

“Running a 10K is like training,” Koskei said. “Instead of doing a speed workout, I do a 10K, then another 10K. It helps my speed.”

How busy is Koskei's schedule?

He won the Santiago Marathon on April 1, ran Sunday and will compete in the Cleveland Marathon 10K in two weeks. He's also planning on running the Grand Rapids Marathon on Oct. 21.

Koskei and Kogo broke Nicholas Kurgat's course record (1:03:38) from last year.

“I'm ready to run many races,” Koskei said.

Ethiopian Fatuma Sado took first in the women's half-marathon, fighting through a sore quad to run a 1:12:43. Her time topped Malika's Majdoub's course record from last year of 1:14:26.

“My leg (didn't) bother me,” Sado said through her translator, Mahlet Aklile. “I decided that I was going to win, so pain or no pain, I was going to do it.”

Better late than never

Ashli Molinero had hoped to complete her first marathon by the time she turned 40. Guess while she's 40 will have to do.

Molinero, who will turn 41 Thursday, suffers from spina bifida and was competing in her first hand-cycle race. But that didn't stop the Bethel Park resident from finishing in 2:50:25.

“I wanted to do it to raise awareness for other people with disabilities to maintain their health, especially girls with disabilities,” said Molinero, who's an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Pitt.

Kenneth Bestine of Clymer, N.Y., won the men's hand-cycle marathon in 1:32:45.

She said yes

Will Dennis didn't run Sunday but still fell to his knees around the finish line.

One of them, anyway.

Dennis proposed to his girlfriend, Heather Petronic, after the latter ran a 2:14:28 in the half-marathon.

“I was all sweaty and had just finished running,” Petronic said. “But it's OK.”

You can't catch me

On a hot day when the medical tent set a record for hospital transports, why wouldn't you go dressed as a giant gingerbread man?

“I always end up doing some dumb things,” said Matt Gaudet, 27, of Indiana, who nearly entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the Fastest Marathon Runner Dressed as a Gingerbread Man, running 3:42:28 and missing the old record by eight seconds.

But give him credit for trying: He wore a brown, head-to-toe cotton suit with about a 4 12-inch opening to breathe.

The 27-year-old IUP graduate shares a business — Indiana-based GingerBreadMan Running — with a friend, Chris Geddis, who explained: “He definitely pulled the short straw.”

Gaudet, to no real surprise, was treated briefly for dehydration and a 102-degree temperature.

“I was wobbling,” said Gaudet, who estimated that he chugged 60 ounces of water in the medical tent.

‘Sole Survivors' update

The group of 12 men to have run every Pittsburgh Marathon remained intact.

It includes: Joe Bujdos, Bob Crawford, Bob Graham, Bill Harrison, Tim Hewitt, Dirk Kalp, Marty Klanchar, Terry Moore, Bill Rodney, Don Slusser, Don Toy and Bob Zukas.

Rabbit talk

The Pittsburgh Marathon used “rabbits” last year to help runners qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. One of them, Jeffrey Eggleston, even won.

No rabbits were on the course yesterday, but race director Patrice Matamoros said they could return next year, especially with an oft-stated desire of breaking the course record.

“Maybe we would do that next year because we want to get that race record because Dick's has anted up $10,000 (to whoever breaks the record),” Matamoros said. “If we brought in a rabbit, maybe that would help us.”

Cool down

Shetaye Bekele, whose story of escaping prostitution was chronicled in Friday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, finished her second half-marathon in 1:21:19, good enough for ninth place. ... Expected to be the top American woman in the field, Devon Crosby-Helms got stuck in Chicago without a connecting flight and didn't run.

Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.

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