Ninja turtles, superheroes and even the occasional winner graced Sunday’s running of the 30th Duke City Marathon.
And running fans, family and friends provided plenty of support for the runners.
“Hurry up, my arms are tired,” read one sign, exhorting a runner.
Although the sign was not expressly meant for him, Kenya’s Solomon Kandie took it to heart, defending his title in the men’s portion of the marathon in a blistering time of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 32 seconds. His time was still well off his record-setting mark of 2:24.03 from last year, but nearly 16 minutes ahead of Albuquerque’s Jeremy Rush.
Although he wasn’t able to lower his record, Kandie said he was quite satisfied with the result seeing as how he just ran the Twin Cities Marathon two weeks ago.
“I came back and ran really good,” said Kandie, who lives in Albuquerque and trains full time with a goal of making the 2016 Olympic squad. “It is very impressive, based on my recovery from the past two weeks. Overall it was very exciting.”
On the women’s side, Betsy Schout of Phoenix claimed her second marathon victory while adding her ninth state in an attempt to run a marathon in each state.
“It’s a fun way to travel the country,” she said. “A unique way to travel the country.”
Schout finished in a time of 3:23.00, which is better than she usually does and 4:34 ahead of runner up Brenda Brown of Bloomfield.
Both winners had to shake off the early-morning chill, which Kandie found particularly bothersome.
“It was a little bit chilly at the beginning,” he said. “It was very cold. I couldn’t move. The first mile I went through at 5:14, which was OK. But I was freezing. My shoulders were freezing. My fingers were freezing.”
When the sun finally began to kick in, Kandie began to feel better.
“About five miles, when the sun started coming up, it warmed up,” he said. “The first three, four miles, I was just kind of pushing myself. But because of my strides I tried to warm up a little bit. It’s tough. Your strides change and then your breathing. And then the water stations, the first three, four miles, the water was cold. It has negative affects big time.”
Just being on the course was enough to warm Schout up.
“It was good. A little cold at the beginning. But it was pretty smooth after that. The course is really pretty. So that made it a lot easier to run,” she said. “It was just fun. A lot of positive energy from the people watching and the people running.”
Unlike most of her marathons, however, Schout said she was more focused this time on her performance.
Sunday “my goal was to qualify for Boston,” she said. “Normally my goal is just to finish. I don’t really care what my time is but I want to run the Boston Marathon in the next few years so that was my goal today.”
Kandie said that’s one of his upcoming goals, as well, despite what happened there last year.
“I think everything should be fine,” he said. “After what happened last year, I’m sure the security is excellent this time around. It shouldn’t be a problem, I know a lot of people are planning on going back there. Runners have to keep going, regardless of what happens.”
Running Boston is a way of showing solidarity, Schout said.
“That’s actually what kind of motivated me,” she said of last year’s finish-line bombings. “I thought it would be a really cool experience to be there, just be supportive of the people that were hurt last year.”
When it came to keeping order on the course, Chris Conlan of Albuquerque was up to the task. Decked out as Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle “Raphael,” right down to the red mask, Conlan ran the half-marathon.
“When I was looking my closet on what to wear, I saw this thing and I thought it would be kind of fun,” he said. “I thought with kids on the course, it would be entertaining for them.”
Brothers Aaron and Brian Orosco of Rio Rancho were decked out as “The Flash,” and “Spiderman,” respectively.
Aaron Orosco went so far as to include yellow lightning bolts on his sunglasses.
They were celebrating Brian Orosco’s 30th birthday and his first half-marathon, finishing together in 2:04.11.
“We had a photo finish,” he said. “He was going to flash it up and I was going to spin it out.”