Japhet Kipkoech came to Columbus last year to do some speed work on a Mill Race Marathon course.
Winning wasn’t among the Kenya native’s expectations.
But competing in his first full marathon, Kipkoech ran to victory. Sept. 23, the Louisville resident will try to become the first two-time winner in the marathon’s five-year history.
“I like the way it’s organized,” Kipkoech said. “I like the way you start with the half-marathon people, and they push you. It’s exciting when you have cheering people. The scenery is cool, and it’s more fun to run.”
Since last year’s Mill Race event, Kipkoech has run in three more marathons. He ran a personal-best 2 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds to win the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, then won another one in North Carolina before finishing second in a marathon in Carlsbad, California.
Kipkoech just wants to go faster than the 2:23:08 he ran in last year’s Mill Race Marathon.
“I’m trying to beat last year’s time,” Kipkpoech said. “I’m trying to run as fast as I can and stay with the half-marathoners for awhile and save something for the last miles.”
As of last week, Kipkoech was the only male runner who had finished in the top five of any of the previous four Mill Race Marathons or Half-Marathons who had registered for one of this year’s events. However, Mill Race committee member Randy Stafford said the second- and third-place marathoners from last year, Alexander Kushman and Julius Kiptoo, may still enter.
Meanwhile, two former women’s runners-up and three of the top five females in last year’s Mill Race Marathon are entered in this year’s marathon. Last year’s female winner, April Woo of Louisville, was not entered as of last week.
Claudia Brinkruff of Greenfield (second), Abby Petter of Louisville (fourth) and Sharon Young of Batesville (fifth) return from last year’s top five women. Also back are Carol Gensheimer of Georgetown, Kentucky, who finished second in the inaugural race in 2013, and Laurah Lukin of Cincinnati, who took third in 2014.
Cindy Harris of Indianapolis also could challenge for a top women’s finish.
A couple of local athletes could be in the running for top men’s finishes. Columbus residents Tyler Stillwell and Joseph Bell, along with Philip Helbig of Cincinnati, are top contenders.
Jacob Virostko of Columbus and Zane Yeager, a Columbus native who now lives in Bloomington, could be among the top half-marathoners. Others include Yobani Calvo of North Vernon and Tommy Belt of Indianapolis.
Among the top female half-marathon entrants are Lindsey Millspaugh of North Vernon, Alyssa Degner of Bloomington and Amanda Virostko of Columbus.
Winners of the first four Mill Race Marathons
2013;Danny Fisher;Sarah Ostaszuski
2014;Geoffrey Kiprotich;Sarah Overpeck
2015;Bryan Morseman;Gisela Olalde
2016;Japhet Kipkoech;April Woo