WASHINGTON — For the second consecutive year, a U.S. Army Soldier won the Marine Corps Marathon — this time against a record 23,864 runners, Oct. 28, in Washington, D.C.
Spc. Augustus Maiyo, 29, a runner in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., won the 37th running of the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes and 20 seconds in his first attempt at the 26.2-mile distance.
“This is my first marathon and I end up winning it, and it was windy,” said Maiyo, 29, who was fortunate to get his run done the day before Hurricane Sandy blew into town. “It was really tough to run.”
In 2011, 1st Lt. Chad Ware ran the fastest Marine Corps Marathon in 14 years and won with a 2:19:16 clocking — the best performance since Darrell General ran 2:18:21 in 1997.
Both Soldiers said their primary goal was to lead All-Army to the Armed Forces Marathon Championship against All-Air Force, All-Navy and host All-Marine Corps.
“I really wanted to do well for the team and for representing the Army,” Ware said after winning the race last year. “It wasn’t just for my own personal goal. It was for something a little bit bigger.”
“We obviously wanted to win as a team, so we wanted to beat everyone else,” Maiyo said. “For the Army team to be one of the top, that’s very exciting. It’s rare that I have won anything before, so to win the Marine Corps Marathon is exciting and different.”
“To win against all military guys, that’s really big,” he explained.
The Soldiers left no doubt this time, with former WCAP Capt. Kenny Foster of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., finishing second overall with a personal-best time of 2:22:39 to help carry the All-Army men to the Armed Forces crown.
WCAP runners Spc. Robert Cheseret (2:27:50) and Spc. Joseph Chirlee (2:33:33) completed the Armed Forces scoring for the All-Army men (9:44:24). WCAP runner Spc. Kyle Heath (2:41:19) and defending champion Ware (3:01:25) rounded out the All-Army squad.
The All-Army runners left most competitors and ran together until around the midway mark, with the exception of Foster and Heath, who fell off the pace around eight miles.
“The plan from the beginning was just to get all the Army guys up front, so we went a little bit aggressive,” said Foster, 26, a native of Brookville, Pa. “We were averaging about a 5:20 (per mile) pace through four miles and after we got through the hills, we picked up the pace to 5:10 to 5:15. I actually started getting a leg cramp around mile seven, and I’ve never gotten a leg cramp that early in a marathon race before.”
Foster, who was running his eighth marathon, opted to back off the lead pace. He ran a “recovery” mile of 5:30 and “recollected” himself during miles 10-13. He passed the 13.1-mile mark in 1:08:50. By then, however, the course had flattened and the winds were howling off the Potomac River.
“The second half of the race is pretty difficult just because (first) you’re not running with the group, and secondly, running out by yourself with the wind the way it was, it was pretty tough,” Foster said. “And the second half of the course, there are little or no hills to work with.”
Chirlee dropped from the lead pack during the 14th mile, leaving Maiyo and Cheseret as the front-runners. Foster, meantime, was working his way back into contention.
“At mile 15, I caught Chirlee, and at mile 18, I caught Heath,” Foster said. “I probably got Cheseret around mile 23.”
By then, Maiyo, was running alone — so far ahead of his nearest competitor that he knew he must work through cramps that were slowing him and do whatever it took to finish.
“At 18 miles, Robert started dropping back,” Maiyo said. “I was feeling pretty good at 18 miles. I didn’t feel anything until mile 23, and that’s when everything started going downhill.”
“Yeah, it’s tough to run one of them,” said Maiyo, whose longest previous race on the roads was a half marathon.
He plans to experiment with all distances and both disciplines through the 2016 Olympic Trials, with the long-range goal of representing the Army on Team USA at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
“I think I will be trying everything,” Maiyo said. “I will stick to running the steeple in track. I want to try to run a marathon again to see what happens.”