One of the changes made for the 2015 Buffalo Marathon was that the prize for setting an event record was doubled.
That turned out to be an expensive decision.
Both the men’s and women’s marks fell during a picture-perfect day on the streets of Buffalo.
Kiplangat “Kip” Tisia of Rochester and Kenya defended his title and broke his own mark with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds.
Hirut Guangul of Ethiopia may have turned in an even more impressive performance. She won in 2:39:01, breaking the event record for women by more than three minutes. Guangul won the race by almost 19 minutes. To put that in perspective, she had about a 3-mile lead at the finish.
Tisia and Guangul earned a bonus of $2,000 each for their performances, which went with the $2,000 prize for winning the race.
“I’m going to call my mom,” Tisia said. “She’s going to be very happy about this.”
If the extra money “was the incentive for them to break the record, more power to them,” race director Greg Weber said. “It’s not like they broke it by a little bit, either. I guess it was a good day for them to run.”
It’s very unusual for someone to come back and defend a championship in this race; most runners don’t even return to try. Tisia had this one circled on the calendar.
“I was very happy to come back and do it again,” he said. “Buffalo is becoming my home.
“I won the Rochester Marathon, and another marathon in Puerto Rico, but this was my Buffalo best. I love it here.”
Tisia finished more than five minutes ahead of Philip Lagat (2:21:12), who won the Cleveland Marathon a year ago. Tisia said he was in the lead more or less from the start to the finish.
“I even pushed the guys in the half” marathon “and made them go a little bit,” Tisia said with a smile.
Richard Kessio of Toledo, Ohio, was third in 2:26:52. Jacob Krolick of Arcade was the first local finisher, coming in fourth in 2:25:43. Considering it was Krolick’s first marathon, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I know there’s always a bunch of Kenyans there,” he said. “The goal was to run with them. I knew they were going out way too quick. I hung back, caught up with a couple of them, and had a little stomach trouble along the way. “
Krolick got his initial first-hand lesson at what marathon runners call “hitting the wall.”
“I felt great for 18, 19 miles, and then the last seven miles were torture,” he said.
Krolick was impressed by Tisia’s performance.
“I’ve run against him a couple of times in area races,” the former YMCA Turkey Trot winner said. “He’s a great runner. Hopefully in a couple of years, if we’re still going at it we’ll have the chance to run together. I need a little more experience at this distance.”
Guangul broke the women’s mark set in 2009 by Elena Orlova. Guangul doesn’t speak much English, but said she thought she could break the record coming into the race because she had been running well lately, and was happy that she did so. Guangul took control of the event early and cruised to the victory.
The performance wasn’t even a personal best for the new women’s champion. The 25-year-old ran a 2:34:02 in St. Paul, Minn., in 2012. Guangul ran a 2:38:07 in Hong Kong earlier this year. She won the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012.
Kristen Tamburrino of St. Catharines, Ont., finished second in 2:58:22, which also made her the Masters (age 40-plus) champion. Muliye Gurmu finished third in 3:07:06. Gurmu won the Marine Corps Marathon in 2009. Carrie Wert of Buffalo was 16th to lead local runners in 3:21:13.
Jenny Fiscus of Brookville, Pa. (northeast of Pittsburgh), drove up for Sunday’s race. She’s obviously a good runner, finishing ninth in 3:16:48. Part of the lure of a race like the Buffalo Marathon is a chance to run with world-class athletes.
“I honestly don’t know how they do it,” she said. “It’s amazing. They took off in the beginning. In a couple of places you could see them, but I don’t know if I even saw the woman in front. I had no idea with where I was” in the standings.
Fiscus has a sister who lives on Grand Island and who ran the half-marathon last year. Jenny said she plans on returning.
“It was a great race,” she said. “The course was beautiful.”
Tisio also was happy about the course and the day.
“I think this year the course wasn’t as windy,” he said. “I guess they changed the course, and I was very happy about it. This is a very good marathon, and it’s going to grow.”