Exciting finish in battle of sexes | SierraSun.com

Exciting finish in battle of sexes

Steve Yingling
Sun News Service

It took 10 years, but the Lake Tahoe Marathon finally experienced a spellbinding finish on Saturday at Pope Beach.

Samuel Githinji of Tucson, Ariz., overtook Kristi Arthur of Reno several hundred yards from the finish line and held on for a three-second win in the battle of the sexes. He earned an extra $500 for winning the battle of the sexes and $1,000 overall.

“I heard the feet coming,” said Arthur, who collected $500 in her seventh career marathon. “At the very end that’s where you have to dig down deep and give it something extra. I gave it what I had, but there wasn’t enough in me to give. If I had one more gear, it might have been a photo finish.

“He may have had a longer stride and he had a little more to give at the end than I did.”

Githinji, a native of Kenya who will celebrate his 33rd birthday tomorrow, coasted to the men’s marathon title in an official time of 2 hours, 44 minutes and 18 seconds. Arthur, who started 30 minutes ahead of Githinji, won the women’s marathon in 3:14:21.

There were 523 runners.

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Bad memories of her last marathon appearance in 2001 didn’t impact Arthur’s performance Saturday. She was leading the women until mile 23 four years ago when she became sick and walked the final three miles to post a career-worst time of 5:17:00.

“I must have been in better shape for the hills, because they didn’t feel nearly as bad as the last time,” she said. “The Kenyan guy passed me on mile 18 coming over Emerald Bay four years ago and made me look like I was standing still. It made me feel like I was having a better race today because I held him off so long.

“I felt like I was running it by myself because I didn’t look back to see where the other girls were. Knowing there are people behind me and not knowing how far is good incentive to keep moving.”

Arthur had received advice not to finish the race under certain circumstances.

“I told her to drop out if she wasn’t winning,” said Scott Young, Arthur’s coach and fiance, who was looking ahead to their next triathlon in two weeks.

Arthur’s best marathon time is 3:05 two years ago, but that was at sea level in Honolulu.

“I’m curious to see what I’d do on a flat course now with some training … maybe break 3 hours,” Arthur said. “I’m game to come back, but I’ll probably see what training for it does.”

The Kenyan had hoped to run the 26.2-mile race from Tahoe City to Pope Beach in 2:28, but there was “too much ups and downs,” according to the first-time marathon winner.

“It was challenging,” Githinji said. “Maybe with two or three more Kenyans in the race it could be done.”

Two-time defending champion John Weru of Kenya was unable to compete because of a calf injury.

John Rockwood led Lake Tahoe runners by placing 20th. The Tahoe City man finished in 3:27:14 and was followed by August Brautigiam of Truckee in 21st at 3:27:36.