Things just keep getting better and better for McNeese State assistant cross country coach Alan Foolkes.
Saturday morning, Foolkes, a 29-year-old native of Cork, Ireland, rebounded from a bout with the flu to win the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, capping a hectic two months highlighted by coaching successes.
Last month, the McNeese State men won their first Southland Conference cross country title in 12 years. Two weeks ago, senior Cowboys runner David Rooney, also from Ireland, finished seventh at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.
At the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, Foolkes took matters into his own hands leading the race from start to end before finishing with a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 56 seconds.
“I wanted to run 2:35, but a week ago I got the flu, and I hadn’t run the last seven days,” Foolkes said. “Still, I had done all the training, so I wanted to come out and see what I could do.”
Foolkes ran the race two years ago, but finished second with a time of 2:37:28. This time, Foolkes completed the first lap in 1:18, but began to tire with eight miles left.
“When I got to 17, 18 miles, my legs started getting heavy on me,” Foolkes said. “Its tough to do the whole 26 miles by yourself, but I enjoyed it.
“There’s not too many two-lap courses, and it’s actually nice to do them because you know what you’ve got coming up ahead. I ran faster two years ago, but that’s the way marathons go sometimes.”
Brittlyn Sosh, a 23-year-old senior at Murray State, has been running competitively for only a year, but she bested many more experienced runners in winning the women’s open competition with a time of 3:27:50.
Sosh had company from half- marathon runners during her first lap but ran in isolation for the second half.
“The second loop, you’re pretty much on your own, so you just turn up the iPod and keep on going,” Sosh said. “The only goal I had was to beat my time from Indianapolis a month ago. I was a minute slow, but that’s OK.”
Sosh said her mother originally coaxed her into running competitively, an activity she now enjoys with both parents, her sister and grandmother.
Former LSU track athlete Tim Landry led a large group of runners competing in the half-marathon and posted a winning men’s time of 1:18:16. Despite Landry’s win, the race didn’t go the way he expected.
“Around mile four, I caught a cramp in my ribs, and it lasted the rest of the race,” said Landry, who ran cross country and distance events while competing at LSU from 2009-2011. “It’s not what I wanted time-wise, but I’m happy that I won. I was shooting for 71 minutes.”
Angie Tingey of Houston was hoping to run the half-marathon under 1:31 — a goal she surpassed as she won the women’s competition with a time of 1:30:32.
“I was hoping for a time under 1:31, but I wasn’t sure if I would win,” Tingey said. “Close to the end I knew because there were no girls in front of me. I came here because I’m training for a marathon in March.”
In the marathon’s Masters Division (40 and older), 47-year-old Kurt Traylor of Indiana was the top men’s runner (3:08:46), and 53-year-old Suzy Seeley of Houston the fastest woman (3:29:45).
The Grand Masters Division (50 and older) was topped by another set of out-of-state runners. Richard Stone, 54, of Wichita, Kan., ran 3:16:37 to win the men’s race. Paola Sandroni, a 52-year-old resident of Rochester, Minn., ran 3:38:56 in the women’s competition.
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