When Evan Gaynor looked back at the first time he ran a marathon, he considered his shortcomings.
He was finishing up his four years of running track and cross country at Malone University in Canton and he decided to run his first marathon. Little did he realize that when it came to tackling a lengthy endurance road race, he was a novice.
Gaynor made it through the first half of his first 26.2-mile trek with little difficulty, then began to struggle with hills around the 15-mile mark before moving closer to a snail’s pace in the late goings of the race.
That was two years ago. On Sunday, Gaynor had little difficulty completing the men’s marathon in the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon. The 24-year-old crossed the finish line inside the Glass Bowl in 2 hours, 21 minutes and 20 seconds, which shattered the previous course record of 2:26:27, set last year by Matt Folk.
Folk finished the 13.1-mile half-marathon on Sunday in 1:08.43, two minutes behind half-marathon winner Julius Kiptoo, a native of Kenya who lives in Perrysburg. Kiptoo finished in 1:06.30, ahead of Gregory Kiprotich (1:06.32).
“In my training, I was shooting for it. I was hoping for a 2:19 and I’ll take a 2:21,” said Gaynor, a former state cross country champion at Delta High School, who won the 2012 Glass City men’s half-marathon. “That’s my second-best time ever. I was real technically sound. I was happy with how it played out.”
Gaynor ran with a pack through the first 13 miles of the course, which winds through the University of Toledo, Toledo, Ottawa Hills, and Sylvania, and saw he had completed the first half in 70 minutes — halfway to his goal of running 2:20.
“I just wanted to keep the hammer down from there,” Gaynor said. “But it was a rough last six miles. The wind started coming up a little bit and with the rain and everything. I started cramping up the last few miles. It was a marathon, and it was a challenge.”
Gaynor won the men’s marathon nearly two minutes ahead of Wojciech Kopec of Searcy, Ark. (2:22.12).
Laura Gillette of Goshen, Ind., won the women’s marathon on a soggy course in 3:03.34, finishing more than eight minutes ahead of Stacy Groppler of London, Ont. (3:11.42)
Yet as Gillette trotted into the Glass Bowl, she caught everyone — even race administrators — by surprise. The race tape had not been stretched across the finish line to signify the winner of the women’s marathon, as it had been for Gaynor in the men’s marathon.
Still, Gillette cradled the race tape in her arms as she cooled down after the race.
“I was a little frustrated because I got caught behind a golf cart,” Gillette said, laughing. “They actually slowed me down when I got onto the field. I couldn’t go, and I wanted to take it harder.”
Gillette, who said that this is the 20th marathon she has run, earned the win despite trailing one of the race leaders between the 20th and 21st mile.
“But it’s a marathon, and you never know,” said Gillette, who finished fourth in the 2011 Glass City Marathon. “You never know if they’re going to come back and get you, so you just try to keep pushing, and push to the end.”
Christina Murphy of Columbus won the women’s half-marathon in 1:18.25, ahead of Rachel Kinsman of Archbold (1:18.46).
“I’ve heard this is just a really nice, fast, flat course, so I decided to try a different course,” said Murphy, who won the Capital City Marathon’s half-marathon last year in Columbus. “The biggest challenge for me was on the last stretch, once I went into the lead, and not having anybody around me. It was just holding the pace. But every slight upgrade was matched with a downgrade, which made it a nice course.”
The rain and wet weather, Murphy said, wasn’t a major factor in the 13.1-mile race.
“I think it almost cools you off a little bit and the course is so flat that, if anything, there’s a little bit of wind coming in,” said Murphy, who ran the Glass City Marathon for the first time. “But it wasn’t bad.”
Ryan Rau of Brighton, Mich., won the men’s 5K race in 16:09.89, more than 38 seconds ahead of Cain Leathers of Toledo (16:48.16), while Angela Matthews of Westland, Mich., won the women’s 5K race in 18:04.38, more than two minutes ahead of Natalie Gooden Burkard of Troy (20:13.65)
“I’ve never run here before, and I usually run longer stuff,” Matthews said. “I was just glad to get into the 5K and get something a little faster. There were a lot of turns on the course, and I noticed, just because of the rain, the footing was a little slicker along the turns but I had no problems. A guy in front of me almost missed a couple turns, but I didn’t have a problem with it.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.