It's full speed ahead for Kenya's Muchiri

In 1:06.55, runner takes inaugural half-marathon

Baltimore Marathon

October 19, 2003|By Michael Reeb | Michael Reeb,SUN STAFF

Forget the 13 miles, 192 1/2 yards.

For Kenya's Gabriel Muchiri, the winner of the Baltimore Running Festival's half-marathon, there's little difference between that distance and the full marathon.

He should know. Two weeks ago, he finished third in Minnesota's Twin Cities Marathon. Yesterday, he won the inaugural running of the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon at M&T Bank Stadium in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 55 seconds.

Muchiri said the strategy is much the same for both distances.

"The half and the marathon are the same," said Muchiri, 25. "The speed is the same."

But the same can't be said for how Muchiri's most recent marathon and half-marathon unfolded.

He was leading Twin Cities well past 20 miles when disaster struck.

"When we got to the 24th mile, the problem was my stomach," Muchiri said. "I stopped to drink some water and I fell to No. 3."

Yesterday, there were no such gastric roadblocks.

Countryman Julius Gwako, 29, led until the 10-mile mark when Muchiri took over and built a margin of 17 seconds by the finish. Gwako was second.

Muchiri hopes to run the Puerto Rico Half-Marathon next.

"We'll try to go to smaller races this month - 5K, 10K, 15K."

Like Muchiri, women's winner Dorota Gruca of Poznan, Poland, uses the marathon and half-marathon interchangeably.

"I run the New York Marathon in two weeks," said Gruca, 32, after she won in 1:20.53. "This is only training."

She hopes to parlay yesterday's win into a personal record in New York.

"I want to get below 2:31," she said about the time she posted in Nagano, Japan, last year.

If yesterday is any indication, she is on her way.

"Now I feel good after today because I'm doing a very good job," said Gruca. "I have no coach. I do everything, what I feel, maybe a little speed work the next week, and after that, rest and then some more speed work."

Last month, Gruca won the Polish Championship Half-Marathon in 1:13.20. Her personal record for the distance came in the 2001 Berlin Half-Marathon, where she ran 1:11.24.

Yesterday, she led all the way from the start of the half-marathon, which began at the midpoint of the marathon on Light Street at the Inner Harbor.

"It's not easy," Gruca said about the course, which followed the same route as the second half of the marathon. "The finish is good. The finish is downhill."

A field of 3,000 completed in the race.

Monica Hostetler of Rochester Hills, Mich., was second in the women's division in 1:23.51.

Joseph Breslin, 43, of West Chester, Pa., and Julie Caprio, 42, of Columbia won the men's and women's masters divisions in 1:17.09 and 1:31.29, respectively.

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