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July 29, 2014

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Dudley, Kazakova run off with titles

Men

1. Mike Dudley, Bend, Ore., 2:18:13 2. Matt Capelouto, Trabuco Canyon, Calif., 2:18:34 3. Katsumi Asada, Tokyo, 2:19:40

Women

1. Irina Kazakova, France, 2:41:56 2. Alena Vinitskaya, Belarus, 2:43:41 3. Deb Bollig, Conifer, Colo., 2:44:55

The Las Vegas Marathon may never be as big or prestigious as the marathons in Boston or New York City.

"That's fine because every marathon is very unique," Las Vegas Marathon executive director Al Boka said. "We have our own identity."

Though the number of runners of Sunday's marathon increased by about 500, bringing the total number of runners to 7,650, the prize money decreased because Boka lost $60,000 in sponsorship this year.

Last year the top finishers in the men's and women's open division for the full marathon received $3,000 each. This year the amount fell to $2,000.

For Mike Dudley, $2,000 was just fine.

The 30-year-old from Bend, Ore., was the first man to cross the finish line at 2 hours, 18 minutes, 13 seconds. Behind him were Matt Capelouto of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., at 2:18:34 and Katsumi Asada of Tokyo at 2:19:40.

Russian-born French citizen Irina Kazakova had the best women's time at 2:41:56, followed by Belarus' Elena Vinitskaya at 2:43:4 and Deb Bollig of Confier, Colo., at 2:44:55.

Kazakova and Vinitskaya ran together until about the 22-kilometer point when Vinitskaya asked Kazakova if she wanted to pick up the pace. Kazakova did and Vinitskaya never caught up.

"Yes, it was very strange," Kazakova said through an interpreter. "After she couldn't follow me, I didn't know where she went.

"We had good contact during the race. We ran a friendly race. Thanks to her, I went ahead."

Dudley has won the event both times he has entered. Dudley took first in 1994, but was unable to accept the prize money because he was a college student and wanted to keep his amateur status.

After collapsing on the chair from exhaustion Dudley cheerfully repeated to himself, "$2,000" three times.

He earned every cent.

Dudley led all the way after four miles, but struggled to finish because of the rapid pace he ran most of the race.

"I fell apart the last 10 kilometers," Dudley said. "I didn't know if I could finish.

"I couldn't raise my arms or scratch my nose so I thought I was in trouble."

Dudley entered the race with the intention of being the front-runner and running as fast as he could. During the miles 8-19, he was thinking that might not have been the best plan.

"I thought I might have gone too fast then," Dudley said. "I thought I had a good shot at winning, but I didn't know if I would hang on or die or even finish."

While Dudley said he was prepared to lead, Capelouto approached the race differently because it was his first marathon.

Capelouto and several other runners hung with Dudley before he took off, but once Dudley distanced himself, Capelouto didn't chase him.

"I decided to let him go because I knew he was capable of a 2:14," Capelouto said. "I ran pretty conservatively the first half not knowing what to expect of myself then pushed it up the second half."

By the time Capelouto made his move, it was too late. Dudley had at least a half-mile lead on Capelouto before he sprinted to the finish line.

"I thought first place was ahead of me a lot further than I anticipated," Capelouto said. "I was more worried about the guy behind me than the guy in front of me.

"The last couple hundred yards I realized how close I was when the crowd was cheering me on. I think if I knew, the outcome might have been different."

The race also resulted in a good outcome for a pair of Las Vegans.

Christopher Juarez finished sixth in the men's division with a time of 2:29.19, while Amy Blackwell was the fourth woman across the line in 2:48.40.

Boka wants the Las Vegas Marathon to be a bigger event with more prize money in years to come to attract the best runners in the world.

To do that, he will have to secure a title sponsor and a presenting sponsor to help cover costs. Boka estimates that it costs more than $400,000 to put on the marathon. That figure includes everything from putting the cones on the road ($19,000) to having ESPN cover the event.

So far, Boka hasn't had much luck.

He is puzzled by the apathy among local businesses and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority when the marathon brings more than 8,000 runners and their friends and families to the city.

"They bring in about $8 to $10 million easily," Boka said of the tourists. "My hopes are to get a big sponsor to put in $150,000 or more to take on title sponsorship and a presenting sponsor.

"With that, we can do much more promoting and attract more runners. I'd like to see 5,000 or 6,000 more people in each event."

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