Around the 22-mile mark of the Buffalo Marathon on Sunday, Ellie Pell needed a quick break. She was worn. She was in pain. She couldn’t contain herself for much longer, literally or figuratively.
During the late stages of a grueling road race, Pell needed to go to the bathroom.
Knowing she was still well on pace to finish the 26.2-mile race in under 2 hours, 50 minutes, the Ithaca resident took a quick reprieve. She ducked into a port-a-potty near SUNY Buffalo State and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Her time away from the course was minimal.
“Really, you only lose a couple seconds,” Pell said.
She emerged and she found her second wind in the final 4.2 miles. Pell, who typically runs ultramarathons – races that are longer than a standard marathon and can go 50 miles or more – completed her second marathon and finished the 26.2-mile course in a chip time of 2 hours, 48 minutes, 40 seconds.
“After that stop (at mile 22), I was like, ‘I can do this!’ ” Pell said after the race. “I loved everything about this marathon. The crowd support was so great, and it showed me why I love this city. My mom is from Cheektowaga and I grew up coming here. People in Buffalo love this city. They don’t care who you are, and I love people like that.”
Joseph Whelan, a former Hamburg High and Syracuse University cross country standout, won the men’s marathon in 2:22.04, ahead of Kenny Goodfellow (2:31.11).
Whelan started the race with the goal of finishing the course in less than 2:13.48 as an attempt to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials next year in Atlanta.
Even though he finished more than eight minutes off his goal, he used a strategy during the race: Go at a comfortable pace for the first 4 miles, run at a marathon pace during the next 18 and then go at a comfortable pace again for the final 4 miles.
“Everything went to plan, pretty much,” said Whelan, who lives in Spring Branch, Texas. “I wanted to come out here and get a really big workout in. It was just good to run in front of my family and my hometown, and to get that win, because that’s huge. Getting a marathon win is a big deal. ”
Hugh Armstrong won the men's half-marathon (13.1 miles) in 1:06.49, ahead of Sam Morse and Gezahagn Girma Beyene. Armstrong, who is from Ireland and lives in Providence, R.I., ran in a pack with Morse and Beyene, and while he and Morse finished with the same chip time, Armstrong won a foot race in the final stretch to edge Morse at the finish line.
“I was kind of a bit off the pack, and then I caught up at about the 11-mile mark,” Armstrong said. “Sam, I thought he was out of it, and then he came back on late, with about a half-mile to go and I was like, ‘Geez, there he is.’ Anyone could win. They had quite a bit of a gap on me when we hit the 13th mile, and then I looked up and saw the finish with 200 (meters) to go. I thought, ‘If I go now, I think I can get it.’ ”
— Rachel Lenzi (@rachelmlenzi) May 26, 2019
While the men’s half-marathon came down to a foot race, Amanda Marino cruised to a course record in the women’s half marathon. Marino won the women’s half in 1:15.13, and she came to Buffalo with two goals: get in a training run before the Grandma’s Marathon on June 22 in Duluth, Minn., and set a course record in Buffalo.
She knocked both off her list, finishing ahead of Stefanie Jean Slekis by more than 2:32 on Sunday. Marino ran the Buffalo Marathon for the first time, and bested the previous half-marathon record of 1:16.39, set by Heather Cappello in 2009, despite facing wind and fog, especially in miles 10 and 11, which run along the Erie Basin Marina and the mouth of the Buffalo River.
“My coach wanted me to do a half-marathon as a tune-up race (for the Grandma’s Marathon) and we figured the weather would be a little cooler up here than anywhere in New Jersey. And I got to see Niagara Falls yesterday, for the first time. So this was like a mini-vacation for me.”
Aileen Hoak-Lange finished second in the women’s marathon, more than six minutes behind Pell, but Hoak-Lange had good reason for a bit of a lag.
Two weeks prior to the race, the Colden resident found out she was pregnant with her second child, so she had a passenger in tow during the course of the marathon.
"I checked with the doctor and made sure I was clear, and she said, 'Go ahead, give it your all, and you're fine to do that,' ” said Hoak-Lange, who completed the course in 2:55.02. “So, that eased my mind a little. It was a little bit of a surprise but it's almost a relief, but it made sense as to why some of my workouts, recently, haven't been up to par. So when I found out I was pregnant, it all made sense."
She made the announcement of her pregnancy in marathon fashion; during the race, she wore a neon yellow tank top with the words "Baby on Board" written in green marker on the front.
Kristin Waldby of Williamsville finished the half-marathon in 2:24.06. Before she got her silver finisher's medal, her boyfriend, Andrew Torres took out a silver ring, encrusted with diamonds, and asked his girlfriend of nine years to marry him.
"She loves running, almost more than she loves me," said Torres. "I wanted to make sure I could add to the happiness in her life, and it was only right I did it at the end of the half marathon."
Torres and Waldby met in high school in Syracuse, and attended the University at Buffalo. Waldby didn't expect the proposal to happen at the finish line, but she didn't hesitate to say yes.
"I was totally surprised," Waldby said. "I just expected to finish a race!"
Before Waldby could cool down, the newly engaged couple was already being prodded for details of the wedding.
"No date yet," Torres said. "We still have to tell our families."