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Kenyan wins Fifth Third Classic

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Michael Korir topped the men's field in 30:17.63.

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The mystery that surrounds most road races is that veteran runners never know quite what to expect from new runners when they step to the starting line, and two first-time Fifth Third Toledo Classic 10K runners made their mark yesterday.

Michael Korir and his cousin Silas Kiplagat, from Kenya by way of Canton, slipped into the 10K race and made off with first and third places in the breezy, but muggy, morning air in downtown Toledo.

Korir, 27, and Kiplagat, 23, were among 423 runners to participate in this year's road race, several hundred runners fewer than last year, said race director Pete Buehler.

Korir covered the flat 6.2-mile road course in 30:17.63. Paul Aufdemberge, a perennial top contender in the 10K run, finished second at 31:56.43. Kiplagat, who fought with Aufdemberge for second place for half the race, was comfortably in third with a time of 32:42.17.

“I wish I could have raced [Korir] about 10 years ago,” Aufdemberge, 37, said with a laugh. “I didn't think I ran that well, but to tell you the truth, I don't think it really would have made a difference today.”

Korir, using a scorching 4:43 second mile, held a 22-second lead over Kiplagat and Aufdemberge near the two-mile mark at St. Clair Street and Madison Avenue. By the time Korir made it to the five-mile mark, at Huron Street and Madison, Korir's lead had increased to over a minute.

“He really pushed that second mile,” Aufdemberge said. “That made a big difference. After the second mile there was no catching him. I battled with [Kiplagat] for the first three miles and was finally able to pull away from him. I tried to use the straightaway on Summit Street to separate myself from him.”

Korir and Kiplagat are in Canton with Mark Rotich, 24, another Kenyan who ran at Malone College. The three train together, but Rotich said he is recovering from an injury.

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Mari Chandler won the women's division in 35:38.96.

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Rotich said he heard about the Toledo Classic two weeks ago and encouraged Korir, who is training to run in a marathon, and Kiplagat to give it a try.

“I thought it would be a good race for them,” Rotich said. “We had a friend in Youngstown who told me about it, so the race is well known. I'm not surprised by how well they did.”

Kiplagat said this was his first race in the United States after training in Canton for a month. He said he normally runs 5Ks and 10Ks in his homeland.

“This was a good experience for me,” Kiplagat said. “It was a good day to run and even though I've only been here a month, I wanted to race to expand my knowledge.”

The 10K race first took the runners toward south Toledo on St. Clair toward Logan Street, near Interstate 75 and back up Erie Street to downtown again. The runners exited downtown again on Summit north to Magnolia Street.

The runners took Huron Street south, and looped to Superior before entering downtown, passing Fifth Third Field and the Erie Street Market before finishing on Water Street.

Mari Chandler of East Tawas, Mich., 26, was the first female runner to finish the race, with a time of 35:38.96 and was an impressive 11th overall. The former Central Michigan University runner said this was her first 10K.

“I'm a miler, but I thought this would be a good training run,” Chandler said. “I didn't know where I would finish but from my past [workouts] I thought I would do pretty good. I've been training and running races in California, but I will be here [in the fall] running.”

Former Start High and University of Toledo runner Theresa Mariea was the second women's finisher (37:00.91), while Kimberly Dezarov of Farmington Hills, Mich., was third in 37:16.05. Mariea's sister, Lisa, was the top women's finisher in the 20-24 age bracket at 37:28.20, and was the fourth women's finisher overall.

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