Kirkham, McKinley win Mill Race Marathon

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Cory Kirkham wins the men’s full marathon portion of the Mill Race Marathon in Columbus, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

Winning times for Saturday’s Mill Race Marathon were slower than usual, but that didn’t dampen the excitement for Cory Kirkham or Sheridan McKinley.

Kirkham was the overall winner in 2 hours, 50 minutes, 29 seconds. McKinley finished second overall and first among females in 3:01:33.

“I got lucky,” Kirkham said. “It was a little slower than last year. That’s the first time I got to break the tape, so that was cool to be able to do it.”

Kirkham, 32, a Zionsville native who now lives in Carmel, had won a 50K ultra marathon, but not a regular 26.2-mile race. He finished fourth in last year’s Mill Race Marathon in 2:44 and change when the winning time was 2:29.

Saturday, Kirkham was running in second place around the 22-mile mark when a volunteer who was bicycling alongside him told him the leader had dropped off the course because of injury.

That allowed Kirkham to seize the title. Brian McAlees of Port Glasgow, Inverclyde finished second in 3:02:06; and Robert Reeves of Hope was third in 3:04:19.

“I’m coming back from an injury,” Kirkham said. “”This summer, I had a stress fracture, so this is my first marathon back. So it’s a great way to come back.”

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Sheridan McKinley wins the women’s full marathon portion of the Mill Race Marathon in Columbus, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

McKinley, 26, is from the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, Okla. She ran at Oklahoma City University and was making her first trip to Indiana.

“I was looking for a race in this kind of time frame, a fall marathon, and was just browsing on and saw it was good weather and a nice, fast course, and it all just kind of lined up,” McKinley said. “It’s somewhere I’d never been before, so I thought I’d come out and do it.”

This was the third marathon and the first win for McKinley, who was about a minute off her personal best.

“I was hoping to beat 3:00 today,” McKinley said. “I was hoping I’d be in the running for (the title). I feel like I run better when I feel like I’m getting to compete a little bit instead of just running for time. So looking at past results, that was definitely part of the decision that went into this — seeing if I could compete or not.”

The next three women to finish the marathon are recent Columbus North graduates who are freshmen in college. Nicole Meza Sanchez took second in 3:33:11, while Sydney Morlok and Claire Wisler both finished in 3:44.41.

Meanwhile, in the half marathon, former Oldenburg Academy and Purdue runner Curt Eckstein was the winner in 1:03:59. Former Barr-Reeve and IUPUI runner Damon Pruett finished second in 1:06:20.

Eckstein, who won the state cross-country title in 2016 and the 3,200 meters in track in 2017, plans to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Oct. 28 and try to qualify for Olympic Trials with a 2:18 or better.

“It was a 30-second PR, so that was good,” Eckstein said. “I’m fighting shin splints right now. The goal is to run 2:18 and go down to Florida and run the Trials.”

Lauren Bailey of Westfield was the women’s half marathon winner in 1:19:06. Taryn Garlington of Kokomo was second in 1:20:43.

“I’m very happy with today,” Bailey said. “I felt a lot more relaxed. I’m kind of new out of college, so it’s hard transitioning to a longer distance, but I’m learning not to go out so fast like at 5K and enjoy the process.”

Bailey ran at University of Indianapolis for four years and Notre Dame for one year. She was competing in Columbus for the first time.

“I love it,” Bailey said. “This is such a pretty town. I have a friend from here, and she always talks about how great the atmosphere is, and now that I’m here seeing it, it’s just so nice. It’s a nice little city.”

Craig Padgett, a Mishawaka native who now lives in Indianapolis, won the 5K in 16:23.

“Me and my buddy Michael (Disher, the runner-up) right here, we’ve been doing our training, and mainly just doing threshold-based-type stuff and wanted to get a test of fitness,” Padgett said.

Former Columbus North standout Rachel Brougher was the women’s 5K winner in 19:30. Brougher, who ran one year at Eastern Michigan, ran her fastest 5K since her senior year of high school in 2017.

“I took about five years off, and I just got serious about it starting in January,” Brougher said. “I ran one 5K on the Fourth of July this year, and this is my first 5K since high school, besides that one. For taking all that time off, I’m really happy with it. It feels so, so good.”

Top marathon male finishers

1. Cory Kirkham;Carmel;2:50:29

2. Brian McAlees;Port Glasgow, Inverclyde;3:02:06

3. Robert Reeves;Hope;3:04:19

4. Zachary Cherry;Noblesville;3:04:51

5. Chad Stott;Indianapolis;3:05:55

Top marathon female finishers

1. Sheridan McKinley;Edmond, Okla.;3:01:33

2. Nicole Meza Sanchez;Columbus;3:33:11

3. Sydney Morlok;Columbus;3:44:41

4. Claire Wisler;Columbus;3:44:41

5. Terra Montemayor;Lafayette;3:58.50

Top half marathon male finishers

1. Curt Eckstein;Indianapolis;1:03:59

2. Damon Pruett;Indianapolis;1:06:20

3. Caleb Kerr;Zionsville;1:07:28

4. Scott Lieberman;Boulder, Colo.;1:08:56

5. Jack Randall;Cincinnati;1:09:13

Top half marathon female finishers

1. Lauren Bailey;Westfield;1:19:06

2. Taryn Garlington;Kokomo;1:20:43

3. Emily Wagoner;Terre Haute;1:24:20

4. Claudia Brinkruff;Greenfield;1:24:47

5. Natalie Leverone;Covington, Ky.;1:27:46

Top 5K male finishers

1. Craig Padgett;Indianapolis;16:23

2. Michael Disher;Indianapolis;16:40

3. Joseph Day;N/A;18:14

4. Norman Dickson;N/A;18:24

5. Garrett Perfetto;Columbus;19:07

Top 5K female finishers

1. Rachel Brougher;Columbus;19:30

2. Megan Bos;Columbus;20:37

3. Ruth Federle;Columbus;21:39

4. Erin Jones;Columbus;22:41

5. Kylie Brinksneader;N/A;22:48

For a gallery of photos of the winners of the Mill Race Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K, visit

Photo Gallery: Mill Race Marathon Race Winners