Miles with the Giant Marathon 2011
By Doug Diaczuk
Special to the Chronicle Journal
Loose laces lose races; That may be this year’s lesson for last year’s winner of the Miles with the Giant marathon.
Nearly 800 athletes from near and far came to the second annual Thunder Bay Marathon: Miles with the Giant held Sunday. The top two spots in the full marathon were won by the same Kenyan duo that finished on top last year, but in reverse order.
Gilbert Kiptoo placed first with a time of 2:26:25, beating both his time last year of 2:30:20 and last year’s winning time of 2:29:03. That time was set by Philip Kipchumba, who placed second this year with a time of 2:27:50.
Kiptoo said the race went well, even though it was a little colder towards the end of the race.
“It slows us because we are used to warm weather,” he said after the race.
Kiptoo added that Kipchumba was supposed to win the Thunder Bay Marathon and defend his title, but an equipment problem forced Kipchumba to fall back.
“Me and Philip normally run a friendly race,” Kiptoo said. “This year Philip was supposed to win but on the way he didn’t tie the shoe well and he had to tie them on the way so that’s why he dropped from first place. We normally run a very good race and a friendly race.”
Kipchumba explained that his shoelaces came untied twice during the race and the cold didn’t help matters either.
“It was cold for me to tie so I had a lot of trouble tying,” he said.
In May, Kiptoo also won Thunder Bay’s 10 Mile Road Race for the second year in a row and he and Kipchumba are pleased with their results during the marathon. The money they earn from participating in races across Canada is sent back in support of children in Kenya. Kiptoo said that some people from Thunder Bay recently visited their village and they realized just how many orphan children there are in the village.
“The Thunder Bay community has been supporting us a lot,” he said.
Northwestern Ontario runners came out strong in the half marathon and full marathon as well. Eight of the top ten finishers in the full marathon were from the Thunder Bay area, with Nicola Wilberforce finishing in the top spot for the women and fifth place overall in the full marathon with a time of 2:59:55. Wilberforce said she is excited with her performance, and even a little surprised.
“I wasn’t expecting it this year,” she said. “I knew there was a top girl coming up from Toronto and I knew she was faster than me.”
For Wilberforce, finishing strong in the Thunder Bay Marathon is always an exciting time.
“I think because I’m from Thunder Bay and all the home town people cheering, it’s really nice to win here,” she said.
Taking third place overall in the full marathon was Kakabeka Falls runner, Scott Wiebe, who finished with a time of 2:59:04.
“It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “I’ve been training on my lunch hours and I haven’t been expecting this.”
Wiebe ran the marathon last year and has only been running competitively since last January.
“Last year was my first marathon ever,” he said. “I ran this marathon last year and I had to walk. It’s unbelievable. I had no idea I could actually run the whole thing.”
Finishing first in the half marathon was Superior, Wis., runner John Heitzman with a time of 1:09:19. Second place went to Corey Gallagher of Winnipeg with a time of 1:12:36 and Thunder Bay’s own Paul Carr finished third with a time of 1:13:13.
Barry Streib, president of the Thunder Bay Marathon, said everyone was enthusiastically waiting on the start line for the race and he’s happy to see everything go off without a hitch.
While runner registration was slightly down compared to last year, Streib said he’s not going to worry about that and he is confident the race will continue to grow and get better.
“Our intent is to grow this into a major event,” he said. “We’re hoping three, four, five years from now we’re getting maybe 4,000 or 5,000 runners coming into our community. We know what the benefits of that are to Thunder Bay and the region. It allows us to give back to the community as well and allows our charities to get more involved as well.”