TRAVERSE CITY —
Jessica Graf was running her first marathon.
Hilary Cheruiyot was running his second in six days.
The 29-year-olds finished with the same results.
Graf captured the women's Traverse City State Bank Bayshore Marathon on Saturday, completing the 26.2-mile course in 2:49:37. Cheruiyot claimed the men's race in 2:24:09.
"It was my first one so it was a learning experience," Graf said. "I felt I stuck with my plan and that was to try and feel good through 20 (miles) and just push through the pain after that — and when I got to 20 it definitely started to hurt."
Graf toughed it out, though.
"Everyone does," she said. "If you're not, maybe you didn't run hard the first 20. I tried to think about the fact it was just a 10K left after that. Mentally, that's what it takes the last part of race."
Graf opened a lead on Erin O'Mara with just over 10 miles to go. O'Mara finished second in 2:50:26. The times were off the course record, set by Marybeth Reader in 2008 at 2:46:23, but Graf said that wasn't on her mind during the race.
"I didn't look at my watch the entire race," she said. "I've got my splits, but I haven't looked at them yet. That will be my surprise in a little bit. The only time I saw a time was on the display at the halfway point."
Graf said she plans to do another marathon in the future.
"I was saying no at about mile 23, but now that it's over I'm sure I'll be convinced to try another one," she said.
Cheruiyot just ran a marathon last Sunday, finishing second at Fargo (N.D.) in 2:25:35.
"He's an amazing," his coach William Kosgei said. "I didn't want him to do this. But he said, 'Coach, I have to do it. I want to do it.'
"I said, 'I'm not going to deny you. You've trained enough. If you want to do it, you're in.
"I wasn't expecting much from him. And I was wondering how he was going to fare against athletes who have been training for this race. We didn't know about this race until the last minute. To run a 2:25 last Sunday and then come back six days later and run a 2:24, that's unbelievable."
Cheruiyot was locked in a duel with Matt Fecht for most of the race. Fecht finished second in 2:25:45.
"At 23 or 24. it was like, 'Well, I have to go home now,'" Kosgei said.
As for the course, Cheruiyot said, "It's not easy, it's not hard, it's in-between."
Although Cheruiyot's time did not break the course record of 2:17:40, Kosgei vowed that mark would fall next year.
"I'll promise you this next year that course record is out," he said. "We'll train for this and come in fresh."
TRAVERSE CITY —
Jessica Graf was running her first marathon.
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