Kenya's Stephen Muange Wins the Baltimore Marathon

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Stephen Muange, at a past event

It came down to the wire, but first-time marathon runner Stephen Muange from Kenya broke free from a pack to win the 2011 Baltimore Marathon on Saturday.

Muange, 30, broke away from two other elite runners with only a few hundred yards to go to cross the finish line first with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 16 seconds. Muange told 11 News that the Baltimore Marathon was his first, but that he's run lots of 21K races.

Coming in second place was Ambesse Tolosa, 34, of Ethiopia, with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 20 seconds. Tesfaye Alemayehu, 27, of Ethiopia, came in third with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 22 seconds.

In the women's race, Olena Shurkhno, 34, of Ukraine, won the marathon for the second year in a row with a time of 2 hours, 29 minutes and 11 seconds. She set a personal best record, as well as the women's record in the Baltimore race.

Liudmila Biktasheva, of Russia, finished second in the women's race in just under 2 hours and 30 minutes, and Hellen Jemaiyo Kimutai, of Kenya, finished third in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 10 seconds.

The 2011 Baltimore Running Festival kicked off with 25,000 runners taking to the streets under blue skies and cool fall weather on Saturday.

A Maryland man led the marathon for nearly the first half of the race. Dave Berdan, of Owings Mills, led the race through mile 11. Berdan is a cross country coach at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills.

Berdan told 11 News after the race that he wasn't expecting to set the pace and that he was battling the wind the whole time. He also brought his own cheering section -- his students. 11 News reporters Gerry Sandusky and Kate Amara said the cheers for Berdan when he crossed the finish line were the loudest they'd ever heard.

A pack of about 18 elite runners caught up to Berdan around the 11th mile, and he dropped back from the pack by mile 14.

Kenyan Julius Keter, who won the 2008 Baltimore Marathon and set the course record at 2 hours, 11 minutes and 52 seconds, was the favorite in the race. Keter had set the pace in 2010 but fell back around mile 16 during the uphill portion. This year, Keter dropped back at the end of the 23rd mile.

The pack of elite runners in the race said they would run together in a bunch to thwart the wind, similar to a peloton in a road bicycle race, and they did that for much of the race.

Miles 16 to 22 was considered the toughest because they were largely uphill. By mile 21, only about eight runners were still in the pack.

The half marathon race kicked off around 9:45 a.m. With 11,000 runners taking part this year, it's the most popular race in the running festival. So many runners take part in the 13.1-mile course that the participants have to start in waves.

One of the new and exciting parts of the race this year was that participants got to run through the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Zoo officials said runners got to see alligators, penguins, rabbits, a skunk and polar bears on the 1.2-mile stretch of course through the zoo.

Also, for the first time, the Baltimore Marathon finish line will be permanent, which means runners will be able to see the line they crossed year-round.

Other runners took part in the Kids Fun Run and the 5K race.

Read more: http://www.wbaltv.com/sports/29494228/detail.html#ixzz1arkKHzYR

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