TRAVERSE CITY — Kelly Gries usually sets personal bests in the marathon in four-minute intervals.
It was three minutes Saturday, but the Haslett runner was not complaining.
Gries won the women’s Bayshore Marathon in 2:51:00.3, topping her previous best of 2:54:04 set here last May.
“I was hoping to break 2:50, but I didn’t quite do that,” she said. “But I’m still happy.”
New Hampshire’s Abbey Wood took second in 2:58:45.4 while Northville’s Jenni Culbertson was third in 3:01.27.1.
Gries started strong — maybe too strong.
“It went pretty well,” Gries said. “I think I got excited, felt good and maybe went out a little hard and probably didn’t come back as quickly as I wanted. But still no complaints.”
Gries had to be assisted to the medical tent afterwards. Her husband, Jon, was outside the tent watching. He had received medical assistance earlier after winning the men’s race.
“On the way back I didn’t feel great,” Kelly Gries said. “I knew on the way out I was pushing it a little harder than I should have, but it’s hard to slow yourself down. With 10 to go, I was just trying to hang on as much as I could.”
“Kelly held it together better than I did,” Jon said. “I went out way too hard. I felt good. It felt easy. But, obviously, in hindsight it was not a smart way to run it today. I completely depleted myself by mile 19. I don’t know how I made it. Honestly, I was seeing stars at mile 19. I thought I was going to pass out.”
His wife could relate.
“Probably with four or five to go, I had that thought of ‘Well, it’s possible I might wake up and find that I passed out,’” she said. “I thought I’ll just do what I can.
“I didn’t feel great, but it was OK. I think both of us felt so good we kind of went with it, forgetting that you need to hold yourself back in the marathon.”
So what’s next for the couple?
“Rest,” Jon said.
Kelly said she was spurred on by runners in the half marathon on her return trip down Old Mission Peninsula.
“One thing I was really touched by when I passed all the half marathoners going in the opposite direction was that I got constant cheers, hoots and hollers,” she said. “I smiled for two miles. That was the highlight of the entire race for me.”
Wood, formerly Abbey Gosling, was in town to visit family and run the marathon.
“I felt good the first half (of the race), then I started cramping up a little bit,” she said. “I got pretty nervous.
“When I was coming back I kept seeing my family along the course cheering so that pushed me through. I was in a lot of pain. But I guess that’s to be expected. It’s a marathon.”
Wood just missed setting a personal best by five seconds.