Venezuelan Runner Edges Teammate in Pittsburgh Marathon
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A neck-and-neck finish for two Venezuelans in the Pittsburgh Marathon qualified both for the Olympics and broke a three-year winning streak by Kenyan runners.
Ruben Maza set the Venezuelan national record by edging teammate Carlos Tarazona to win the race Sunday.
Maza, from Caracas, ran the hilly course in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 2 seconds to break his country’s record of 2:12.29. The record was held by Tarazona, who finished one second behind Maza in a tight finish.
``It was a team effort,″ Maza said. ``The course was very difficult, but teamwork made the difference. I’ve been training with him for the last six to seven months. Running with a fellow teammate made the task a little easier.″
Maza and Tarazona finished nearly four minutes ahead of the third-place finisher, Russian runner Dmitri Kapitonov, and were joined in the top four by Venezuelan teammate Jose Zarraga, who finished fourth in 2:16.23.
``We had to finish with a time of 2:13 or better to qualify for the Olympics,″ said Maza. ``That means both Carlos and I qualify. There’s also a chance that Jose will also get invited. This will be the first time we’ve sent more than one marathon runner to the Olympics.″
Maza’s victory earned him $11,500 _ less than half the former top prize money of $25,000.
The Pittsburgh marathon no longer pays appearance bonuses and has undergone dramatic cuts in purse and number of entrants since it played host to the 1988 U.S. women’s Olympic marathon trials.
Tamara Karlioukova of Russia easily won the women’s race and the $10,000 top prize in 2:36.12. It was her third top-five finish in Pittsburgh; she was fifth in 1993 and second last year.
Cheryl Collins of Pittsburgh was second in a field of 534 entries in 2:43.02. Collins was ninth last year.
``Coming so close last year was an added incentive coming into this year’s race,″ Karlioukova said. ``I was a bit surprised to finish so far ahead, but it was no problem because I’m used to running by myself.″
In the men’s wheelchair division, Jacob Heilveil won in 1:40.48. Rose Winand defended her women’s title in 2:09.95.