Two Kenyan runners beat the heat to win Mini-Marathon
Extremely humid conditions didn’t deter two dominating performances from runners from the same training club during the 2012 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis.
Kenyan natives George Towett and Lilian Mariita – who both train in the L.M. Elite Running Club in Hebron, Ky., captured the men’s and women’s races, respectively.
Towett – running in his second Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis – finished the course in 1:05.08, 46 seconds ahead of second-place Philemon Terer of Santa Fe, N.M. Towett was surprised to win and even more surprised how he accomplished it.
“Winning itself … I wasn’t expecting to win,” said Towett, 27. “Everyone was very good. I’m surprised.”
The temperatures were mild, barely topping out at 70 degrees, but humidity was at 91 percent by the mid-point of the race.
“It was very humid,” Towett said. “It was tough conditions. (And) I prefer running in a group. I was pretty much trying to run with a group, but I realized I could be myself and run by myself.”
Mariita – running in her first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon – was nearly as dominant, winning by 42 seconds over second-place Erin Vergara of Indianapolis. The 24-year-old doubled over while holding her side at the finish line and had to be taken to the medical tent on a stretcher following the race.
“She didn’t feel very well because of the humidity,” said Larisa Mikhaylova, Mariita’s coach/agent. “The humidity was very difficult for her. But she feels very good about winning the race. It means a lot to her. “It’s a great day for our club. We had the men’s winner and women’s winner from the same club.”
Mariita eventually walked out of the medical tent on her own. “It’s good. It really is,” said the soft-spoken Mariita of winning the race.
In the wheelchair race, 27-year-old Joshua George edged out Adam Bleakney at the finish line. George, a Virginia native, trains at the University of Illinois – under the tutelage of Bleakney, last year’s wheelchair division winner and also the winner of the 2006 race.
“Adam won it last year, so I came out this year kind of wanting to beat the coach,” said George, who was presented with a $1,000 check from Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana. “That’s the goal of every race. We work together, and then at the end we sprint it out.
“It’s great. It’s always nice getting a win – especially racing this close to home. And my dad was actually in town this weekend, so it’s always nice to win and have family in town.”
Brownsburg’s Ben Hendricks, age 18, won the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K Race.
The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, in its 36th year, is the nation’s largest half-marathon, having sold out with 35,000 participants for the past 12 years. The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is sponsored by OneAmerica, Finish Line, Franciscan St. Francis Health and Marsh.
Click here for photo of Mini-Marathon winner George Towett.
Click here for photo of Mini-Marathon women’s winner Lilian Mariita.
Click here for photo of 5K winner Benjamin Hendricks.
Click here for photo of Wheelchair winner Joshua George.
Click here for a start line photo of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.
The mission of the 500 Festival is to advocate and celebrate the spirit, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®. Through social, cultural and educational events and programs, the 500 Festival enhances the quality of life for all citizens of our communities.
The 500 Festival, a not-for-profit volunteer organization, was created in 1957 to organize civic events celebrating the greatest race in the world. Over the past 55 years, the 500 Festival has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the nation.
Last year, more than 500,000 Hoosiers and visitors participated in nearly 50 events and programs throughout the month of May. Whether they were athletes running the Mini-Marathon, fourth grade students participating in the Education Program, families enjoying the state’s largest festival for kids or spectators being dazzled by one of the nation’s premier parades, they were there, celebrating the legacy.