TRAVERSE CITY -- Nathan Peters ran with a purpose Saturday.
The 19-year-old, who will be a junior at the University of Michigan in the fall, broke to the front early and went on to win the Traverse City State Bank Bayshore Marathon, beating Jerome Recker by 50 seconds.
Peters, a Grayling graduate, was timed in 2:26.47, Recker in 2:27:37.
Sarah Plaxton regained the women's championship, edging second-place Janet Becker 2:54.06 to 2:54.39.
"I ran this race for the first time in 2005 in memory of my mom," Peters said. "She battled cancer for 10 years. Doctors gave her six months to live. She ended up having her brain tumor operated on and lived another 10 years. In 2004, she passed away. In 2005, I ran this marathon for the first time in her memory. This (win) was for her today."
Peters said he led by 75 seconds at one point before Recker started to gain ground.
"I was with Jerome the first half, then I started pushing it after that," Peters said. "I put a little bit of a gap in there, but the last three or four miles were pretty tough. He (Recker) ran one heckuva race."
Recker, who won the half marathon last year, went out faster than he expected.
"My goal coming in was to go out 5:40 (pace) the first half and come back at 5:20," he said. "But he started going 5:30s right off the bat so it kind of threw off my race plan a bit. But I didn't blow up. I was able to come back."
Just not quite enough, even though Peters struggled at the end.
"The last few miles were tough," Peters said. "But when I'm hurting I think about my mom -- and my grandmother. She's battling cancer right now. Cancer's affected our family quite a bit. They're my motivation. I thank them for giving me the will.
"I wouldn't be anywhere without my dad (his support crew Saturday), though. Since I was little he's supported me the whole way. He's provided everything I've needed. He goes out of his way to get to every one of my races. I wouldn't be able to do any of this without him."
Two-time defending champion Nick Allen did not enter this year.
"I know this was one of the slowest times in the past few years," Peters said, "so I'm thankful Nick Allen didn't show up."
Recker was running his third marathon.
"I ran the half at Indianapolis (a few weeks earlier) in 1:09.01," he said. "I knew I was in pretty good shape. I've been putting in 80 to 90 miles a week for the last six months."
Plaxton, a multiple winner, last won in 2006.
"I gave it my all the last six (miles) because I knew somebody (Becker) was behind me," she said. "It was a good race. I surprised myself. I didn't think I would run that fast today. I was just hoping to get under three (hours). I'm getting older and I'm feeling it. I'm happy with that (time)."
Plaxton won the Toledo Marathon earlier this spring.
"It was kind of slow -- 3:03," she said. "It was hot. In the 80s. Today was perfect.
"And it was just good to be back and to run it like I used. It makes me feel younger. I was feeling old."
Becker was second to Marybeth Reader a year ago.
"I watched her (Plaxton) )back the whole way," she said. "I got a little closer (near the end) but I knew at 21 I wasn't going to catch her."
Still, Becker ran a personal best.
"So I'm happy," she said. "I'm not complaining. I was surprised with it because I didn't know how well I would come back from Boston and Fifth Third."