For the second year in a row Soldotna's Luke Oliver took first in the 2010 Kenai River Marathon.
While the 27-year-old knocked 21 minutes, 36 seconds off of his winning time from last year, setting the winning pace with a finish of 2 hours, 47 minutes, 15 seconds, he only beat out second-place finisher David Johnston by a mere 41 seconds.
In third was Bixler McClure with a time of 2:53:42
Oliver said he's had his sites set on the KRM as the cap to his season, one that's seen him place well in several other Southcentral races including taking sixth in the 15.75-mile Lost Lake Run in August.
"You know last year I just didn't do a ton of training. This summer it was kind of sporadic, it wasn't great training but I was able to at least get in more miles," he said. "So it definitely paid off."
Oliver said he went out hard and steady off the start and stayed in front of his competitors through much of the race.
"Around mile 16, I was starting to feel it and just kept telling myself to stay steady," he said.
As he closed in on the finish however, he felt his reserves drying up and could feel Johnston bearing down on him
"The last six or seven miles or so my legs were starting to give out," he said.
On the women's side, Soldotna's Anna Widman lead the pack with a 3:26:05 finish.
Behind Widman was Justine Reese who finished in 3:38:45, and in third was Dee-Dee Wilson with a time of 3:48:47.
Widman, 27, an art teacher, said this is the third marathon she's run, and was enthusiastic with her time.
Widman said she was looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon held in April.
Widman took off with a group of fellow teachers and student runners from Nikiski Middle-High School, but about halfway through the race she set off on her own.
"I ran really, really alone for the second half of the race," she said laughing, noting that compared to the other races she's run she's usually in a pack. "I just decided I was going to stay the pace that I started at the beginning of the race and I didn't want to go anywhere from that pace so I just kept it."
Widman said the wind was a noticeable factor affecting her overall pacing.
Temperatures at the 9 a.m. start of the race -- which launched from the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center -- were a comfortable 45 degrees.
In neighboring Soldotna where runners were headed, temps had barely made it above the freezing mark by 10 a.m.
To top that, a steady north wind with gusts that neared 30 miles per hour buffeted the runners.
In the half-marathon event, Soldotna's Tommy Horner took first with a winning time of 1:25:04. He was trailed by Timothy Gagnon who finished in 1:27:03, and Bob Davis who took third with a time of 1:29:09.
Horner, who classifies himself more as a recreational runner, said this was the second half-marathon he's competed in.
"My running schedule has been hectic lately so this is a nice surprise," Horner said.
On the women's side, Palmer's Mary Barrett took the win with a time of 1:37:41.
The 56-year-old said the race was a strong note to finish off a strong season.
She was also happy to place well ahead of a field of competitors, many of whom were much younger.
"I think that with the longer races the endurance really kicks in," she said.
In second place for the women's half was Jenny Neyman in 1:40:07, and in third was Gayle Hoffmeister, who finished in 1:41:32.
For full results from the full and half marathon see page A-11.
Dante Petri can be reached at email@example.com .
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