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Bills, Bandits greet runners at finish line

Some very good athletes were waiting for the finishers of the Buffalo Marathon and Half-Marathon on Sunday morning.

Some members of the Bills and Bandits were handing out medals to participants of the races, and they were impressed by the event.

“It’s great,” Bills kicker Dan Carpenter said. “The marathons are becoming bigger and bigger. It’s nice to come out and support the runners. This is my second year, and the crowd is bigger than last year’s. I’m happy to cheer on the runners.”

Carpenter is surrounded by great athletes in his line of work, but they are not called to run for hours at a time. The veteran thought of one ex-teammate who could be good at long-distance running.

“Brian Moorman probably could run the marathon,” he said. “He looks like a runner.

“There are enough good athletes on the team that if they wanted to run it, they probably could do it. But I’m definitely not one of them.”

Carpenter was joined by about five of his teammates, who seemed to be having a good time.

“It comes on a long weekend so a lot of guys are out of town, but the ones that are here are smiling and having a good time. They are happy to be here.”

As for the Bandits, Billy Dee Smith would have preferred to have been still taking part in the National Lacrosse League playoffs this weekend. But he still admired the work of the runners.

“I can’t imagine walking 26 miles. I can’t imagine walking 13 miles,” he said. “I almost don’t understand it, but more power to them. It’s pretty impressive.”

Smith said he could guess the amount of training that goes into preparing to run a marathon. His running on the indoor lacrosse field is restricted to less than 200 feet at a time.

“I do short bursts when I have to run hard,” he said. “I did cross country when I was a kid, but that’s all the long distance running I’ve ever done. This is great.”

Dhane Smith and Brandon Goodwin of the Bandits also passed out medals.

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Laura Kamela of Lancaster found out what it’s like to feel like you are about to win a marathon … sort of.

Kamela was in the homestretch of the half-marathon when she discovered that she was running with eventual men’s marathon winner Kiplangat Tisia.

“I heard the cheers, and I thought, ‘This is great. You always get so much support,’” she said. “Then I looked to my left, and then he was there and finishing. I ran in with him and tried to catch him, but he beat me.”

So in other words, Tisia spotted Kamela a 13.1-mile handicap in a sense and still finished a few minutes ahead of her. That’s how good athletes like Tisia are. Kamela can’t even imagine what it’s like to average 5 minutes, 11 seconds a mile for 26.2 miles.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “My goal was to do the half in 2:15, because I haven’t been practicing enough. He’s amazing. He came in more effortlessly than me, and I only ran half as much.”

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Greg Weber didn’t have any complaints about the way the day went as he made his debut as race director – starting with the weather.

“I guess Tom” Donnelly, the late race director, “was looking down on us,” Weber said. “We thought he was going to make it rain, as if to say, ‘I’ll show you guys a lesson.’

“We’re really happy with the way things came out.”

Marathons are such large, sprawling events that not everything goes perfectly along the way. Weber was happy that such problems were kept to a minimum this year.

“We’ve had a couple of little fires, but we haven’t had any major incidents,” he said late Sunday morning. “Everything has been pretty good.”

Conditions were so good that organizers wondered if runners would go all out in an attempt to set personal records and perhaps go past their personal limits. But the medical crew reported that the number of runners who needed treatment was about the same as last year.

With this race in the book, Weber already has planned his schedule for the immediate future.

“We’re going to take the next couple of days off – without a doubt,” he said.

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In the half-marathon, Ayele Mergeuisa Feisa of New York was the men’s winner in 1:05:36. Laura Hagley of Lebanon, N.H., took the women’s race in 1:18.22.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com