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Former UT star Inma Zanoguera wins Sahara Marathon

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    Inma Zanoguera runs in the Sahara Marathon on Monday. In her first career marathon, the former University of Toledo basketball player won the women's race.

    The Sahara Marathon

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    Toledo's Inma Zanoguera reacts to forcing Buffalo into overtime at University of Toledo's Savage Arena during her time at UT.

    Blade/Lori King

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    Toledo's Inma Zanoguera shoots around Western Michigan's Michelle O'Brien during her time at UT.

    Blade/Lori King

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    University of Toledo guard Inma Zanoguera shoots against Bowling Green State University guard Rachel Myers and Sarah Baer during her time at UT.

    BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

Zanoguera-S-768x551-jpg

Inma Zanoguera runs in the Sahara Marathon on Monday. In her first career marathon, the former University of Toledo basketball player won the women's race.

The Sahara Marathon Enlarge

Winning her first marathon might be an accomplishment on its own, but former UT basketball player Inma Zanoguera also did it in the Sahara Desert.

Zanoguera completed the Sahara Marathon with a 3:48:11 time on Monday, six seconds fast enough in the women’s division to beat Sonia Bernal from Spain. The third-place contestant, Italy’s Marina Graziani, crossed the finish line more than an hour later.

RELATED: Sahara Marathon brings former UT athlete Inma Zanoguera home

Zanoguera was not immediately available for comment. She and documentarian Michelle-Andrea Girouard are still in Tindouf, Algeria, staying with Sahrawi refugee families. Now a graduate student at UT, Zanoguera participated in the marathon because she recently discovered her biological mother was one of these refugees. As part of an emotional journey across the world to her roots, Zanoguera wanted to experience firsthand what kind of life her mother led before her untimely death when Zanoguera was three years old.

“I kind of wanted to sweep all of that under the rug, and of course that works for a while,” Ms. Zanoguera said before the race. “But then you realize that there’s another part of who you are.”

WATCH: Former UT basketball player Inma Zanoguera talks about running the Sahara Marathon

Through the documentary, Zanoguera and Girouard hope to share the refugee situation and living conditions in Tindouf with a larger audience. 

“It’s a very undercovered region, and nobody really talks about it, especially in this angle,” Girouard said prior to the race. “It’s very unique that you have an American student going to look deeper into her personal experiences and her heritage, her ancestry. As a result of that, viewers will get a glance at these refugees.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at jmiller@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @miller_jimmy.

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