Steve Slaby’s strong kick allowed him to beat defending champ Shaun Frandsen in the Seattle Marathon on Sunday. Sophia Liu was the top female finisher.
The 46th Seattle Marathon saw a champion defend her crown while fighting through injury. It also saw a husband and wife walk home as victors in their respective races.
Still recovering from plantar fasciitis that hobbled her for six months, Seattle’s Sophia Liu was the top female finisher with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, 42 seconds. Liu’s time was only a minute slower than her victory a year ago, and she beat second-place finisher Johanna Torgeson by five minutes.
“I really wanted to win,” Liu said. “I just moved here and I’m now a research scientist at the University of Washington and a member of the Seattle Running Club. I got tremendous support from them, so I wanted to represent the club.”
Seabeck’s Steve Slaby used a strong kick in the final five miles to beat defending champion and Redmond native Shaun Frandsen. Slaby finished in 2:38:15. The win came a little over an hour after his wife, Gina Slaby, was the first female finisher in the half-marathon with a time of 1:20.51.
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Steve Slaby credited Brendan Lunty — who finished second at 2:39:36 — with helping keep the pace as the duo stayed with Frandsen and fourth-place finisher Joe Berger. Frandsen — who finished third at 2:40:04 — battled back and forth with Berger through much of the marathon. But the battle may have hurt both runners, as Slaby and Lunty had enough left at the end to pass Frandsen and Berger in the final two miles.
“I went out nice and conservative,” Slaby said. “I had a great guy to run with. We basically cruised together for about 20 miles — really through 22 miles together — and we figured we’d pick some people off in the latter half because that’s the tougher part of the race. Sure enough, we were able to pick people off, because we were four-five for the longest time.”
Berger finished with a time of 2:40:45.
Liu, who moved into the city from Redmond since her last victory, had early struggles but was ultimately pushed on by the Seattle residents who lined the streets to encourage the runners.
“There were so many people cheering me,” Liu said. “I really wanted to defend my title. The competition was tough and I’m not feeling good (due to the injury) … I just tried to focus on my form and run through (the pain).”
Torgeson, a Seattle native who now lives in Virginia Beach, Va., had a strong showing in her first marathon in the Emerald City. She said her strategy was simply to survive. “Take advantage of the downhill, that was pretty much it,” she said. “Do my best, try not to die at the end.”
While conditions were raw and cold (34 degrees) at the start, runners were ultimately happy with the weather.
“This was perfect,” said Lunty, a native of Alberta, Canada. “I’m from up north, so I’m used to this. I was just hoping it wasn’t windy.”
Steve and Gina Slaby, who both work out of Naval Base Kitsap, said no bets were made between the couple before the marathon.
“We run ultramarathons, that’s where we really talk trash,” Steve Slaby said. “She’s faster than me, so I have to catch her.”
“It was slower than I wanted, but a win is a win,” Gina said.
The 26.2-mile course began outside of the Seattle Center, wrapped around Seward Park and circled back toward the finish line inside Memorial Stadium. More than 12,000 runners registered for the event.
• Dylan Peterson of Anchorage, Alaska, finished as the top overall runner in the half-marathon, in 1:14:25. In the marathon walk, Mojgan Mohebati won in 4:07:44. In the half-marathon walk, Lauren Matsen Ko was the top finisher at 1:56:16. D. Brian Lee was the top male finisher in 2:24.36.