NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenyan Elisha Barno became the first ever three-time straight winner at the annual Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota, United States when he shook off fatigue to bag victory in the 41st running of the event.
Barno had been booked to travel for the race on Tuesday but his flight was shifted to Thursday with the titleholder arriving in Duluth, the venue of the race on Friday evening only 15 hours before the scheduled start.
Still, the 31-year-old completed an impressive 2:12:08 victory as he led a Kenyan sweep that saw compatriots Geoffrey Bundi and MacDonald Ondara settle for the minor podium places.
Barno won the 2015 race in 2:10:38 and claimed the 2016 title in 2:11:26. His personal best is the 2:09:45 he ran in Slovakia in 2013.
It was his second marathon victory of the year after running 2:11:52 for the honours in Los Angeles on March 19.
Barno who held on to his crown after fending off his last challenger, Bundi (2:13:12) in the business end of the duel for the tape told of how he dug deep to make history in Duluth.
“I had not had enough rest and I knew it was going to be a tough race because I was quite tired and there were many Kenyans in the line-up. But I decided not to let that slow me and I’m glad I finally won it,” he said.
Kenya scored the double when Hellen Jepkurgat, who chested the tape in 2:32:09 won the corresponding women’s marathon crown.
Like Barno, she took home a USD11,500 cash reward having also come to the starting line-up as the female winner of the Los Angeles Marathon.
Her victory was about a minute slower than her personal record set in the Rennes (France) Marathon in 2016.
Kenyan Evans Kurui and Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa ran away with the men’s and women’s Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon titles where home star Kara Goucher’s return to Duluth was the real story in the race.
She placed fifth.