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Posted: May 25, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Wesley Korir Is Big Winner At L.A. Marathon

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Former University of Louisville athlete Wesley Korir was the big winner at today's 24th Los Angeles Marathon, walking off with $160,000 in prize money and time bonuses plus a 2009 Honda Accord EX-L V6 sedan worth $28,705. His unofficial winning time of 2:08:24 was also an event record.

"To tell you the truth I was not expecting to win at all," Korir, a Kenyan, told broadcaster Ed Eyestone on the local NBC affiliate's television coverage. With a 2:13:53 personal best he was only seeded 14th. "It's a miracle," he added.

Korir not only overcame a well-balanced men's field, but 1:58:16 into his race he caught women's leader, Russian steeplechaser Tatiana Petrova, in the race's 24th mile. The elite women had been given a 16:57 head start and organizers offered a $100,000 "Challenge" bonus for the first athlete to cross the finish line. Korir also dropped his only close men's rival, Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia who would finish second, just before he passed Petrova in the 24th mile.

Petrova won the women's division in 2:25:59 (unofficial), winning $40,000 in prize money and time bonuses plus the same Honda Accord Korir will receive.

The victory for Korir was especially sweet considering what happened to him in his marathon debut at last October's Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Korir was not part of the race's invited field, and started with the masses five minutes behind the professionals. Running alone in hot conditions, he passed all but eight of those professionals and ended up running the fourth-fastest time of the day when his five minute handicap was subtracted: 2:13:53. But because he wasn't part of the invitational race he was ineligible for prize money, although the race later provided him with an undisclosed recognition payment.

Under new management after the failed ownership by Devine Sports, the Los Angeles Marathon moved from their traditional early March date to Memorial Day Monday this year, despite warnings of hot weather. In that regard, the race fared well as the "marine layer" of clouds blanketed the region, keeping temperatures comfortably in the low 60's F (about 16C).

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