Kiplangat Tisia was at the halfway point of Sunday’s Buffalo Marathon. He took a moment to look around and realized that he not only was leading the marathoners, but he was ahead of the half-marathoners as well.
He thought to himself, “Where is everybody?”
It turns out that everyone would stay in his rearview mirror for the rest of the morning. The Kenyan native who lives in Rochester ran away from the field to capture the championship in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 16 seconds.
That broke the event record of 2:17:55, set by Jacob Chamar in 2007. This is the first time that the Buffalo Marathon has been held on this particular course.
The women’s winner also cruised to victory. Waynishet Abebe finished in 2:55:08. The native of Ethiopia was the only woman to finish under three hours.
Both Tisia and Abebe earned $2,000 for their victories. In addition, Tisia picked up an extra $1,000 for the event record.
Tisia himself was surprised by his time.
“I expected slower than this, but I ran faster,” he said. “I ran 2:17, so I’m very excited. I’m very happy. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Tisia broke away from the rest of the top competition around the halfway point of the 26.2-mile event.
“I wanted to make sure that it was clear for me for the win,” he said. “I was not worried about winning. I was going for time. Not winning really wasn’t an issue after a while.”
Tisia went on to win by almost four minutes over Tewodros Zewdu (2:21:05).
“I’m happy, but I couldn’t push any more,” Zewdu said. “The winner was very strong. I couldn’t follow him.”
Kirhanu Dare Kemel was third in 2:21:19.
Tisia, who trains in Rochester, claimed his third straight victory in Buffalo over Memorial Day weekend. They just haven’t come at the same distance.
“I won the Buffalo half-marathon for two years in a row, in 2012 and 2013,” he said. “Those two races kind of prepared me for winning this one.
“I love running in Buffalo. That’s why I came back here.”
In addition, Tisia had his confidence back going into this race after a strong showing a week ago.
“Last weekend I was second in the Lilac 10K in Rochester,” he said. “Two weeks before that, I ran in a race in Syracuse. I was heartbroken. I was No. 13 and I said, ‘Whoa.’ So to come back at the Lilac and get the second position was an indication that I was going to do very good.”
Abebe may have had more company in terms of runners, but she left the women’s field well back in notching the victory. The Ethiopian, who does not speak English, was almost eight minutes ahead of last year’s champion, Muliyue Gurmu.
Abebe knows what it is like to finish first in a marathon. She won the Atlantic City race in 2:51:55 last October. She once ran a 2:38:39 in a marathon in France in 2011.
Gurmu, an Ethiopian who trains in the Bronx, couldn’t approach her personal best at the distance. That’s a 2:47:05 in Moline, Ill., in 2012. Alyson Dalton of Sherill was third in 3:03:41.
Some local runners turned in fine performances. William Pates of Cheektowaga was the top area male runner, finishing sixth overall in 2:28:55. Dean Goodison of East Aurora came in at 2:41:18 and was the top men’s masters runner, while Andrew Pfeiffer of Clarence finished 12th at 2:41:55.
Among the women, Martha Santandrau of Hamburg came in fourth at 3:07:55. Valerie Heer of Clarence Center was fifth at 3:13:31, and Kelly Jablonski of Lancaster was 15th at 3:24:03. Kelly Murphy of Nashville was the women’s masters winner.
In the half-marathon, Megersa Adugna, who trains in the Bronx, was the men’s winner in 1:06:51. That wasn’t quite a year’s best time for the 28-year-old Ethiopian. He had run a 1:05:22 in New York City in March.
The women’s winner was Laura Hagley of Lebanon, N.H. Hagley had run a time of 2:55 in the Boston Marathon in 2013, but this year’s race didn’t fit into her training schedule. Hagley and Adugna picked up $500 each.
Jim Park of Buffalo was the masters champion of the half-marathon. Park frequently had been the top local marathon finisher in recent years, but he took it relatively easy this time in earning $200.
“I had done it for about 10 years,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll go back to it next year.”
About 290 runners finished the first-ever John Beishline Memorial 5-kilometer race. Robert Swick of Buffalo took the men’s race in an impressive 15:34. Samantha Ridolfi of Lewiston was the women’s winner in 23:10.