On a soggy Palm Sunday perfect for ducks and geese, a pair of familiar faces on the local running scene won the inaugural Lexington Half-Marathon.
Paul Dunbar High School and University of Louisville graduate Thad Schroeder finished first in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 50 seconds.
Richmond's Jamie King-O'Shea, a former Eastern Kentucky University standout and three-time winner of the Bluegrass 10,000, led the women in 1:23:35 for 13-plus miles.
The scheduled 8 a.m. start was delayed about 10 minutes because of traffic congestion. With one entrance to Fasig-Tipton, where the start and finish lines were, traffic on Newtown Pike was backed up nearly to Nandino Boulevard at 7:15 a.m.
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Few grumbles were heard, though, about traffic or the weather — 52 degrees, 11 mph wind and light rain that later became a downpour.
Dean Reinke, race director, pronounced the outcome "absolutely terrific."
"To get 2,700 people registered for a first-time event anywhere, any time is just terrific," Reinke said. "Hats off to the committee, the community."
As for the delayed start, he smiled and said, "It was an opportunity for people to stay warm a little bit longer."
The registrants included about 2,400 in the half-marathon. Others opted for a 1-mile "fun run" or 5,000-meter race. Some entrants, no doubt, never showed because of the weather. For the three combined distances, about 2,250 finished.
Mayor Jim Newberry gave a brief welcome before firing the starter's pistol.
Katie Christian, a University of Kentucky graduate now studying in the school's physicians assistant program, gave thumbs up to the course. From Fasig-Tipton, the half-marathon followed Newtown to Iron Works Pike, looped through the Kentucky Horse Park, then returned via Iron Works and Newtown.
"It was nice and flat. And beautiful, of course," said Christian, 23. The rain, she added with a laugh, "made it interesting. But my time was actually better, so I think I just wanted to get it over with."
Richmond's Matt Moren called the event "awesome!"
"It was a great layout," said Moren, 38. "The weather didn't cooperate, but that's OK. It was great. It was nice to be running through the Horse Park. Peaceful."
Schroeder, in his first year of UK Dental School studies, took control soon after heading out on Newtown Pike.
"We got about 2 miles into it, and I thought, 'This pace isn't fast enough to play to my strengths,'" said Schroeder, 24. "My strengths are to get in a tough, grind-it-out pace, and I'm going to ground you out, down into the ground. That's what I did."
He took command, not looking back until the last half-mile or so. No pursuers were in sight.
"So you get in that mode where it's just you and the pain," he said. "It's head-on. So, me versus pain, and I won today."
Pain did retaliate, though. After averaging 5:39 per mile, just past the finish line Schroeder heaved his breakfast to the pavement.
Jarrod Wilder of Berea finished 28 seconds back in 1:14:18. Tim Cooper of Georgetown was third in 1:15:00.
King-O'Shea, 34, placed 18th overall in 1:23:35 — a 6:23 mile pace.
Betsy Laski of Lexington was second among women in 1:25:34, followed by Kristin Heilmeier of Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1:32:59.
King-O'Shea, a mother of three, had not raced since taking A Midsummer Night's Run in August.
"I just keep fighting different injuries. My hamstring, it'll go good for a while and then it gives me problems," she said. "So I've really just been doing distance, hoping maybe now to try a little speed work and see where things go for the spring."
That distance work, more than 50 miles a week, includes a 15- to 17-mile weekend run, "so I thought, 'I guess I might as well try a race.'"
She also praised the course, if not the weather. About three or four miles in is when the wind increased. The rain — or possibly it was hail, she said — "was piercing on the face there for a while."
As for the staging of the event, though, "I thought it went very well," she said.
The tardy start didn't bother Richmond's Moren at all.
"Ten minutes — what's the big deal?" he said. "It was a little bit of a mess trying to get everybody in here parking, which I understood that. So, no, not upset at all. Thoroughly enjoyed it. If they do it next year, I want to do it again."
Marcos Santos of Lexington won the 5K in 22:42. Winchester's Tammy Carroll was the first female in 26:48.