With almost 8,000 participants over distances from 50 meters to 26.2 miles, Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend featured everything from sunny skies to downpours, the fastest half marathons ever run in the state of Georgia for both men and women, and a world age-group record by 97-year-old dynamo Betty Lindberg.
In the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon on Sunday, 3,150 starters were led through the streets of Atlanta to the finish line in Centennial Olympic Park by a pair of athletes - fellow Kenyans Nicholas Kosimbei and Dorcas Tuitoek - with an eye on making history. Both succeeded.
In addition to finishing more than two minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Kosimbei ran the fastest half marathon ever on Georgia soil, shattering the previous mark of 1:03:59. The top four finishers all bettered the prior record. The women's race was won by Dorcas Tuitoek of Kenya in 1:08:22, just seven seconds under the Georgia state record set here last year by Molly Seidel, who went on to win a bronze medal in the Olympic Games marathon.
Top Americans were Matt McDonald of Cambridge, Massachusetts - until recently a member of Atlanta Track Club Elite - in 1:05:32, sixth overall, and Dakotah Lindwurm of Eagan, Minnesota (1:12:27, fourth overall). Winning the Push Assist Division was Chris Nasser of Atlanta in 1:17:14.
"It's fun to run by so many of my old spots," said McDonald, who finished in 1:05:32. "Almost every mile, I had some memory of some good time in that neighborhood, whether it was Georgia Tech where I did my Ph.D. or Piedmont Park where I did all my workouts."
Atlanta Track Club offered a prize purse of $17,000 for the half marathon, plus a $2,500 bonus if the winner bettered the Georgia record.
Breaking the tape in the Publix Atlanta Marathon were Shlomo Fishman, 30, of Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2:37:32 and Amanda Furrer of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in a chip time of 3:02:47. Furrer won despite starting in Wave C, eight minutes behind the first non-elite runners.
"I was alone for a while, so the cyclist on the course just started telling everyone my name. So people kept cheering for me. It was awesome!" said Furrer.
The men's winner took a more-pragmatic view. "At Mile 18, I just decided I needed to get out of the rain," said Fishman, who ran a personal best in his first marathon victory. "So, I picked it up a little bit and just went for it."
On Saturday, the 5K was won by Luke Mortensen, 39, in 16:11 and Ellen Flood, 24, in 17:25. Mortensen is from Athens and Flood from Atlanta, a former Georgia Tech runner.
As part of its 5K, Atlanta Track Club hosted the USATF 5 km Masters Championships, with a field of 225 athletes from around the country ages 40 and over competing for both overall and age-group titles. Winning overall were Bryan Lindsey, 41, of Zionsville, Indiana, and Jessica Hruska, also 41, of Dubuque, Iowa.
Winning her 95+ division was the always-effervescent Betty Lindberg of Atlanta, an Atlanta Track Club legend, who recently turned 97. Her time of 55:48 set a world age-group record, destroying the previous mark by more than 30 minutes.
Not long after Lindberg made history in her 10th decade, the 3K Atlanta Publix Kids Marathon was won by 13-year-old Nuriel Shimoni Stoil of Atlanta and 14-year-old Valeria Zambrano of Marietta.