By: Johanna Gretschel
SUNDAY, FEB. 24, NEW ORLEANS – Clear skies and a cool, dry starting temperature of 55 degrees yielded course records for Brit Mo Farah and Ethiopian Meseret Defar at the third edition of the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
Though the day’s oft-predicted storms never materialized, Farah’s win was no Sunday stroll. The 5k/10k double Olympic champion at the London 2012 Games, Farah did not secure victory until the finish line by inching out Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam 1:00:59 to 1:01:00. Sub-sixty minutes was a goal on the table, but the pair separated themselves from the rest of the pack early on and did not have as much psychological incentive to push the pace. The time is a British record for the distance, and broke Martin Lel’s course record of 1:01:70 from 2010. Lel, of Kenya, was fourth Sunday in 1:04:02. Fellow Kenyan countryman Cybrian Kotut was third in 1:02:48.
The top women similarly ran in a tight pack for much of the race, with Defar getting help with pacing duties from American Shalane Flanagan and Kenyan Mary Ngugi, as well as local master’s record-holder Kevin Castille. Defar averaged 5:09 miles to win in 1:07:25, a personal best time and new course record over Kiwi Kim Smith’s 1:07:11 from 2011. Flanagan was runner-up in a personal best time of 1:08:31, and Ngugi took third in 1:10:32.
The top Louisiana finishers crossed the line almost simultaneously; Jonathan Thomas and Matthew Manning ran 1:10:22 and 1:10:33, respectively, for 15th and 16th. Sean Allerton, the top New Orleans finisher, could be seen in the early stages of the race pacing with Kara Goucher, the American record-holder in the half-marathon distance. Allerton, 19th male, ran 1:14:05. Goucher was the fifth female in 1:11:49.
New Orleans women represented well across the top of the half-marathon results, with Kimberly Mantle breaking into the top 10 with a 1:21:17 9th place effort. Michelle Hymel averaged 6:17 pace for a 1:22:22 11th place effort, with her former LSU Tigers teammates Megan Gohres and Kate Accardo right behind in 1:25:19 and 1:26:10, respectively, for 15th and 16th place.
In the marathon distance, Meyer Friedman of San Diego and Karen Lockyer of Baton Rouge took top honors with times of 2:28:43 and 2:52:33, respectively. Friedman, a Tulane graduate now based in San Diego, is a fixture at this event. Sunday’s win was his second consecutive and sixth overall win. Ian Carr was the top local finisher, hailing from Kenner with a time of 2:35:12 for fourth overall.
Lockyer, a native of New Zealand, earned her first win with her fourth try at the New Orleans event. Charlotte Everhardt of Metarie was about a minute behind in second place, with a 2:53:33 effort.
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