FARGO -- They were elbow to elbow, two native Kenyans, for the first several miles in the men’s division of the Scheels Fargo Marathon on Saturday morning, May 21. For Sammy Malakwen, it was a pace he knew he could handle.
For Bernard Kibet, he said thanks, but no thanks.
“The pace was too high for me,” Kibet said.
So Malakwen in a matter of couple minutes created a sizeable lead that was never threatened. At one time on a course record pace to beat Chris Erichsen’s mark of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 55 seconds set in 2010, he fell off as the race wore on but still won easily in 2:26.06. Kibet finished more than five minutes behind at 2:31.22, but it was also his first marathon in the United States and he came in with a personal record of 2:33.
It was the third title for Malakwen in Fargo after winning the half-marathon in 2008 and 2010. He’s running out of Two Harbors, Minn., just north of Duluth.
“I like the full marathon, that’s what I specialize in,” Malakwen said. “The course is flat and I like that. And I like the community, which is real friendly.”
Malakwen’s lead in the second half of the race was so big that he couldn’t find a second place runner in sight anywhere on the course. He received $2,500 for the victory.
“There was nobody pushing me,” he said.
He came in fresh -- his last 26.2-mile race was the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon last fall. He consistently ran mile splits in the 5:20 range, only approaching six minutes per mile a couple of times late in the race.
“I felt good,” he said.