Albany Marathon Sees Best Ever Turnout
Mar 10, 2015
By Brad McEwen and Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald
ALBANY — More than 1,500 runners filled the streets of Albany on a brisk Saturday morning as part of the ninth annual Albany Marathon.
Broken into a full, 26.2-mile marathon and a 13-mile half-marathon, the Albany event drew 1,509 runners from as many as 40 different states and five different countries.
Boasting relatively flat terrain, the Albany race is considered a fast course within the running community, making it a must-run event for those striving to break personal best times and also for those trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Full marathon overall winner Christopher Zablocki of Essex, Conn., had no trouble taking the top slot among the 730 marathoners as he cruised across the finish line in a brisk 2 hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds.
“I was second here two years ago, so I wanted to come back and try for first,” Zablocki said moments after crossing the finish line. “The course was very flat and the cool weather made it nice for running. That was my third-fastest time ever.”
Zablocki, 26, is currently studying medicine at St. Martin in the Netherland Antilles, located some 150 miles east of Puerto Rico. He’s planning a career in sports medicine.
“My plan was to run a fast, efficient race for the first 16 to 20 miles,” the marathon winner said. “There was one guy still with me at 23 miles, so I made a move and he didn’t go with me. Some days you feel really good in a race like this, and some days it’s painful. Today was one of the good days.”
Coming in just seconds after Zablocki was runner-up Werkuneh Aboye of Hebron, Ky., with a time of 2:19:44. Patrick Reagan of Savannah finished third in 2:20:06.
Taking top honors in the female division of the full marathon was Sara Howe of Athens with a time of 2:44:39, followed by Lyidmila Stepanova of Hebron, Ky., in second place with a time of 2:48:30. Jessica Marlier of Chattanooga, Tenn., captured third with a time of 2:51:31.
An additional 778 runners competed in the day’s half-marathon with Wes Hargrove of Columbus posting the fastest time at 1 hour, 14 minutes and 36 seconds.
Albany’s Patrick Whitehead crossed the finish line just a few seconds later, taking second place with a time of 1:14:36. Lucas Stocks of Chattanooga, Tenn., earned third place with a time of 1:17:51.
In the female division of the half-marathon, Jan Rogan of Chattanooga, Tenn. posted the fastest time of 1:18:52, followed by Maurya Lacey of Alpharetta, who crossed the finish line in 1:29:47 to earn second place. Albany’s Jennifer Perkins earned third with a time of 1:31:23.
“I was running today for my friend, Isaac Samuelsy, who had a stroke recently,” Lacey said after finishing the race. “He’s one of my Runningnerds teammates.
“This is my third time running here; I’ve run a full and a half before. I’ve qualified to run the Boston this year, so this was a perfect tuneup run for me.”
Perter Kotchen of Atlanta placed first in the male masters division of the half-marathon in 1:23.51, with Schonie Hamilton of Atlanta earning the top slot in the female masters division in 1:39:09.
“This is just awesome,” Rashelle Beasley with the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau said as she looked around at the milling runners and the dozens of volunteers who greeted them at the finish line. “We’ve been told that most marathons are seeing a 10 to 20 percent decrease in participation, so we were preparing for that. But we had more runners this year than we did last year. We’re still on the upswing.”
Beasley praised the 1,700 volunteers who helped out during the race and the citizens who lined the race course to encourage the runners.
“Of course, I don’t get to see the whole route, but the runners are telling me how great it is to have the water stations and the people standing along the course, yelling for them,” the CVB head said. “There’s absolutely no way we could ever pull this off without those folks and without all the volunteers. They get excited about the race every year, and that gets the runners excited.”