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Hundred years running

Gilbert Kiptoo of Kenya said when he learned Sunday of the rich history of the Firefighters’ Ten Mile Road Race, he prayed he’d find the speed to win such an historic event.
Gilbert Kiptoo crosses the finish line Monday. (Jamie Smith
Gilbert Kiptoo of Kenya said when he learned Sunday of the rich history of the Firefighters’ Ten Mile Road Race, he prayed he’d find the speed to win such an historic event.

Blazing through the course in a blistering 49:50:10 – and despite easing up at the end because he was so far ahead – Kiptoo had little to worry about.

The Kenyan was more than pleased with his finish and took stock in the race’s history when all was said and done.

“It started many years before I was in this world and I happen to be the winner of the hundredth anniversary for which I am very grateful,” Kiptoo

After the first minute of the race he himself alone on the waterfront course, which made it difficult for him to run fast with no one push him.

It was a slow race by his standards, finishing more than two minutes slower than his personal best over the 10-mile distance.

The weather was good though and Kiptoo said he was happy to win the day.

“I need to thank God for this win for me every win I think is a gift from God,” said Kiptoo, who earned $1,000 for his efforts, the first time prize money has been awarded in the 100 years since the race was first held in 1910.

Two-time defending champion Eric Hartmark of Duluth finished second in a time of 49:56:04, while Kenyan Philip Kipchumba was third, with a time of 51:39:55.

Paul Carr was the top Thunder Bay runner, crossing the line at 56:04:15.

Hermantown, Minn.’s Leslie Semler was the first woman over the line, finishing at 1:02.29.

It was the first time Semler has run the race in Thunder Bay, but with the perfect weather and overwhelming support from spectators, she said she would be back for more.

Semler said she ate well on Sunday, kept hydrated during the race and ran smart.

“It’s better than I expected to do so I’m very happy it’s a good time for me,” Semler said.
Thunder Bay’s Nicki Wilberforce, a former Ten Mile champion, was second, coming home at 1:03:37:05.

Monday’s running of the Ten Mile Road Race may have been a milestone event, but it also proved to be the most popular event yet held.

With 833 individual racers and 46 five-person relay teams, race director Mark Smith said he expected more than 1,000 racers to finish the 77th Victoria Day race.

First run in 1910, the race was postponed during both world wars and over a decade during a decline in popularity during the 1950s.

But now as the popularity of the race increases, Smith said it’s starting to get some real global competition.

“Not only is this race getting bigger but it’s also getting faster and we are pulling people now from all of the world,” Smith said.

“We’re really happy with the talent.”

So was spectator William Smith, who received an autographed T-shirt from Kiptoo.

The 70-year-oldsaid there have been a lot of changes since he first ran the race in 1963, first and foremost who is allowed to lace up their sneakers and take to the race course.

“When I ran in it when I was 23 years old there were no women in it,” Smith said. “But after that there were lots of them.”

William Smith said he still likes to come out to the race every year, joining hundreds who line the course to cheer on loved ones as they pass by.

“I’m too old to run in it but I like to watch it now,” Smith said.

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