Gary Krugger has won more than 30 marathons, but his goal before competing in the Louisiana Marathon was merely a top-five finish.
A few miles into the race, the goal and the expectations changed.
Realizing he had the lead, an invigorated Krugger pushed even harder, completing the 26.2-mile course in a winning time of 2 hours, 38 minutes, 48 seconds.
“A few miles in, the lead biker was still with me, so I knew I was leading, and I tried holding it. I did it,” said the 28-year-old Krugger, an Erie, Pa., native who has run more than 200 marathons.
In the women’s competition, Rosalie Teeuwen of Amsterdam broke her course record by 9 minutes with a mark of 2:48:28. Teeuwen won the 2013 race in 2:57:29.
The marathon, which started and ended downtown near the front of the state capitol, helped put a cap on a three-day weekend of running mania. The Finish Festival, a final event for the runners featuring food and live music, ran until late in the afternoon.
Along with the highly popular half-marathon, there were approximately 4,000 runners who completed Sunday’s races. Most had compliments for the cool, comfortable weather and flat, picturesque course.
Kevin Castille of Lafayette set a men’s record in the half-marathon with a time of 1:08:27, almost 3 full minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. Michael Anderson’s 2013 run of 1:14:37 had been the best.
Former LSU track athlete Laura Carleton was first in the women’s half-marathon. Now living in New Orleans, she ran 1:23:35, nearly 4 minutes faster than the next finisher.
For Krugger, who had previously run a Baton Rouge race in 2010, the Louisiana Marathon provided an opportunity for his second visit. He made the most of it by picking up his 32nd marathon win.
“I had no idea how far ahead I was, so I kept pushing harder,” said Krugger, whose malfunctioning watch also kept him wondering about his pace. “I was feeling good for a while. Around (Mile) 16, I started feeling not as great, but I wasn’t losing too much time. There weren’t any clocks on the course, so I was going by what the biker told me.”
The information proved useful enough for Krugger, who now lives in Arizona, to pull off the win.
“It was a good race,” he said. “It’s definitely one of the better ones I’ve run in. Since I’ve done over 200, that says a lot.”
Teeuwen, 34, lived in Baton Rouge for three years before recently moving back home to Amsterdam. It wasn’t enough to block a return trip and a chance to defend her title.
“I knew that Baton Rouge can have perfect weather at this time of year,” said Teeuwen, who knew her training was ahead of the pace she set last year. “I was really hoping for a day like this. I just wanted to run as good as I could, and how that measures up to other people, you never know.”
Teeuwen’s time was nearly 10 minutes faster than the second-place runner.
“I wasn’t sure I would beat my (personal record), but I knew I was definitely going to beat last year’s time,” said Teeuwen, who did set her personal record.
Castille, 41, said he used the race as a tuneup for the national championship masters half-marathon coming up in two weeks in Florida.
“I was supposed to go easy the first few miles, and then I held it right under 5:15 (per mile),” said Castille, the cross country coach at St. Thomas More High School. “The course was nice. There are no hills, so that makes it a little easier.”
Carleton said she accomplished her goal of running between 1:20 and 1:25.
“I wasn’t in the shape I was in last year when I was running for LSU,” Carleton said. “I was focused on the time, but I figured if I was substantially under 1:30, I would win.”