Ruth Senior did it again.
The former University of New Mexico runner captured her second Duke City Marathon title in three years on Sunday, and like her previous victory, didn’t make the decision to run until a week before the race.
“The last three or four miles were painful,” Senior said after her victory. “I just didn’t train for a marathon, and I decided to run one last-minute again.”
Senior finished in 2 hours, 56 minutes, and 37 seconds to best her previous winning time from 2016 by nearly two minutes. She admitted she had to pull off the throttle the last five miles – not willingly – as the minimal marathon training caught up to her.
“I’m happy, and I just wanted to win,” Senior said. “At the 21-mile mark, I just wanted to finish.”
The 35th annual event, which begins and ends at Civic Plaza downtown and goes for miles on the Paseo del Bosque trail, also saw a new men’s winner. Three-time defending champion Solomon Kandie did not enter the race, and instead participated as a runner/coach in the 5K.
In his stead, two-time Olympian, Rachid Kisri, cruised to his first men’s title timing 2 hours, 25 minutes, and 59 seconds.
It was the best winning team since Kandie’s maiden championship in 2012 when he recorded a course-record 2 hours, 24 minutes, and 3 seconds.
The native of Morocco, who recently moved to Albuquerque to live and train, finished 18th in the 2012 London Games, and represented Morroco in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Games finishing his second Olympics marathon in 2 hours, 21 minutes flat.
“I’m very happy and it’s my first marathon after eight months,” Kisri said. “Thank you to my coach, my friends, and the people of Albuquerque.”
Running the Duke City Marathon for the first time, Kisri had nothing but positives to say about the layout of the course.
“It’s flat and sometimes hilly,” he said. “But not really strong (hills), and that’s fine.”
Duke City Marathon board member Burt Trembly said the yearly goal of 5,000 entries was met at the close of registration on Saturday, and he added that of the new initiatives for this year’s race was the promotion of youth running.
In association with title sponsor Big 5 Sporting Goods and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Mexico, 20 local youth were outfitted with running shoes, shorts, and head bands, Trembly said.
“We got them all kinds of gear,” Trembly said. “We trained them for the 5K, and hopefully this will promote healthy running starting with them. We want to grow this every single year with the Boys and Girls club…we want to make this a really big program in the Duke City Marathon.”
Shortly after making the decision to train 20 kids for the 5K race, Big 5 Sporting Goods, the Duke City Marathon board, and the Boys and Girls club didn’t have to look far for a willing and experienced coach.
“It was absolutely a no-brainer to bring in Solomon,” said Tim Sheahan, Boys and Girls club president and CEO. “Part of our whole thing with the Boys and Girls Club is health and fitness. Getting these kids out and active for 20 weeks was phenomenal. These kids really held in there, and having Solomon as their leader was awesome.”
When presented with the decision of training kids for a 5K or competing for a sixth overall Duke City title, Kandie didn’t take long to make his choice.
“I was talking this over with my wife,” Kandie said, “and she was suggesting, ‘you’ve won so many times. You have two little ones. So how are you going to inspire them?’ I thought, I’m going to train and run with the kids. It was a very easy decision for me to make.”