Kota Reichert and Amber Morrison were winners at Sunday’s Amica Seattle Marathon. Both competed in the half-marathon in Seattle several years ago.
For both the men’s and women’s winners of the 46th Amica Seattle Marathon, Sunday was a good day to get reacquainted with running competitively on Seattle streets.
Kota Reichert of Palo Alto, Calif., the men’s full marathon winner in 2 hours, 33 minutes, 57.6 seconds for 26.2 miles, ran his first major distance run, a half-marathon, during the Seattle Marathon in 2007.
Amber Morrison of Bellingham, the top women’s finisher in 2:55:09.16, made her first major race the half-marathon in Seattle in 2006.
“Oh, my gosh,” Morrison said when she and Reichert swapped stories at the finish line inside Memorial Stadium around 10:30 a.m. “What are the odds?”
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Reichert, 33, and Morrison, 35, were the top full-distance finishers, and Joe Gladow of Seattle and Courtney Olsen of Bellingham took first in the men’s and women’s half-marathon, to lead a pack of 7,000 runners, as estimated by race organizers.
Reichert finished nearly three minutes ahead of Mark Harrison of Seattle (2:36:44.0) and nearly four minutes ahead of third-place finisher James DeSalvo of Winthrop (2:37:30.58).
Morrison crossed the finish line more than four minutes ahead of runner-up Elizabeth Bigelow of Twin Falls, Idaho, (2:59.25:0) and Abigail Crowder of New Orleans in third (3:00:06.33).
Reichert, who ran for the University of Puget Sound, won the men’s half-marathon in 2007 — the last time he had competed in Seattle.
Sunday was his first career marathon victory; he finished in second place in the Eugene Marathon last year.
“I’m pretty happy with the result,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what the competition would be like. I felt I had a chance at winning it because you never know who shows up in a given year.
“Then every year I’ve done a marathon, one thing goes wrong — but not today.”
Reichert said he pulled away by increasing the pace a few miles before the course’s hilliest section in the final 6 miles.
“I didn’t pick up the pace too much faster, about 5 or 10 seconds per mile, but it allowed me to build a lead,” he said. “The course is challenging, particularly the last 10K with all the hills.
“My legs are more beat up than my aerobic system. It was a pretty hard effort.”
Reichert, who has run as a pacesetter in races for women attempting to meet standards for the Olympic trials, says he was running for the memory of his mother and two coaches, all of whom died of cancer within the past three months.
“This is the first race I’ve done since then,” Reichert, an oncology specialist, said. “My mom was a big part of my racing. She insisted I do this race in 2007. I was the top American in the Tokyo Marathon in 2010, and she grew up in Tokyo. It was really cool that she was there for that with me, even though there was snow and hail, and it was the windiest race I had ever ran, and of course she was out there the entire time.”
Meanwhile, Morrison said she got a boost when local legend Uli Steidl, a 10-time Seattle Marathon winner, ran with her Sunday for about a mile.
“For him, it was jogging,” she said with a laugh. “He coached me a few years ago, so we’re good friends.”
• Gladow, 24, a 2010 Shorewood grad back in the Northwest after teaching in Spain for two years, says he took control of the half-marathon at its midpoint. “You just have to believe in your training and grind up those hills,” he said. He finished in 1:11:24.57, ahead of Trevor Lafontaine of Lakewood (1:11:38.00) and Robert Baraldi of Seattle (1:11:48.91).
Olsen won the women’s half in 1:21:23.10, followed by Jen Moroz of Vancouver, B.C. (1:23:25.32) and Emily Kroshus of Seattle (1:24:10.67).