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Clark County man wins Las Vegas Marathon

Former Ethiopian edges out Kenyan to win male division, Russian is top female winner

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Tiffany Brown

The 2008 Las Vegas Marathon begins under a chilly pre-dawn sky on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 2008.

Updated Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 | 2:58 p.m.

A Morning Marathon

The Las Vegas Marathon took place Sunday, Dec. 7. The marathon featured 15,000 runners, including 178 Elvis Impersonators, 47 couples who got married during the race, a 90-year-old participant and a man competing in his 103rd marathon of the year.

Click to enlarge photo

Las Vegas resident Abebe Yimer crosses the finish as the winner of the 2008 Las Vegas Marathon. The 28 year old Ethiopian was the first Clark County resident to ever win the race.

Las Vegas Marathon

One of more than 15,000 runners stretches on the way to the starting line of the 2008 Las Vegas Marathon on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 2008. Launch slideshow »

Marathon: Numbers and Notes

  • Temperature at the start of the marathon: 48 degrees
  • Temperature at half-way point of the marathon (based on winner's time): 50 degrees
  • Temperature when men's winner crossed finish line: 52 degrees
  • 47 countries represented
  • 178 Elvises participated
  • 47 couples married on the course
  • One marriage proposal at the finish line (she accepted)
  • 4,000 pounds of pasta enjoyed on Sat., Dec. 6, 2008, at the marathon's official pasta party at Mandalay Bay
  • Abebe Yimier, the winner, lives in Las Vegas and formerly worked at the Palms Casino Resort before he decided to concentrate on running full-time
  • Oldest marathon runner to participate was 90

Abebe Yimer of Las Vegas won the Las Vegas Marathon at 2 hours, 27 minutes and 27 seconds as the first Clark County resident to ever win the city’s marathon.

The 28-year-old is originally from Ethiopia and moved to Las Vegas in 2001, working at The Palms Casino Resort before taking on running full-time. He said that he set his mind to win even before the shot from the starting gun sounded.

“Before the race, I’m thinking, ‘I have to win this race, this is my chance so I have to win it,’” he said. “So I was staying with the guys at mile 24, two miles to go I made the decision to move up.”

Yimer won the city's marathon in 2002, before becoming a Clark County resident, and has since run the race as a resident four years in a row. Last year, Yimer came in eighth place. He said he was so happy to win this year because he wanted to make all of the people supporting him happy too.

His next marathon? Yimer will run his first marathon of 2009 on Jan. 18 in Arizona.

Among the women, Nadezhda Tuptova, a Russian, finished first at 2 hours, 48 minutes and 20 seconds.

“It feels good to win for the women. I feel very, very happy that I won,” Tuptova said through a translator.

The 33-year old-veteran runner said the Las Vegas course is easier compared to others because it’s mostly downhill.

“I don’t think there was any big challenge except I was running by myself and I like to run with people,” Tuptova said.

“I knew right from the beginning that I might win because I was running all by myself,” Tuptova said.

The first female resident of Clark County to cross the finish line was 31-year-old Ramona Sanchez of Las Vegas with a time of 2:56:33.

The marathon kicked off in front of Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino at 6:07 a.m. after a seven-minute fireworks display, with more than 15,000 runners taking to the road.

Wheelchair athletes started the race, with elite runners who finish in less than three hours, include Yimer and Tuptova. Thousands of other runners followed behind.

To the side of the more conventionally dressed runners were 178 "running Elvi," dressed in the sequenced jumpsuits and black wigs made legendary by Vegas headliner Elvis Presley.

A group from Los Angeles traveled to the race to make their second appearance as the rock 'n' roll icon.

“Running is not a fun sport for a lot of people. It can be tiring ... but when you're dressed as Elvis, you don’t worry about the time,” Kurt Garcia said of his group. “It’s more about staying healthy and having a good time.”

Forty-seven soon-to-be-married couples joined the Elvi at their post during the beginning of the race. The couples were married by a running reverend at mile marker 5.5 on the course.

Also dressed in Elvis regalia was Adrian Broca and his fiancé, Brenda Arechiga, who wore a white sequined running outfit for her wedding day.

Broca is the fastest blind runner in the country. He normally finishes a marathon in less than three hours with the help of a guide and a cane. But today the couple had to bail out after the ceremony to attend their wedding reception at The House of Blues.

The couple's wedding party dressed as showgirls, with pink tutus and matching feathers.

“I never thought I would get married at a race. It was actually his idea,” Arechiga said. On top of running a portion of the race and getting married, Arechiga worked as the Elvis coordinator for the race.

The married Elvi were not the only brides and grooms taking place in the interesting nuptials.

“We’re runners, we wanted to run away from a big wedding and it fits our lifestyle,” said 68-year-old Vikki Richardson of Westcovina, Calif.

Richardson said that the plan all along was to come to Vegas and elope. And when she got the e-mail about the run-through wedding ceremony, it was a packaged deal.

Another couple, Ted and Michelle Kolp of Detroit, Mich., were renewing their vows to celebrate 17 years of marriage. They won the trip to Las Vegas after Ted and a friend took first place in Detroit's Motor City Scramble race.

“We decided to parlay it, if you will, into a second wedding,” Ted said.

The two have been running in half-marathons for the past two years and this was their first time at the Las Vegas Marathon.

More than 6,000 family members and friends of the runners scattered around the marathon course to show their support.

Three strangers came together at Fremont Street to cheer on a mutual friend, Mandee Smith of Seattle, and continued screaming their support to the rest of the runners that passed them.

“We’re trying to go to mile 17 and then I’ll run the last lap with (Mandee),” 29-year-old Amber Ridge of Chicago said. She said that she and the two other women were there for a “girls' weekend” in Vegas and to cheer on Smith, who was running in her fourth marathon.

Down on Bridgier Street, where the the half-marathoners made the turn to head back to Mandalay Bay, Michael Mehr from Henderson stood with his two daughters waiting for his wife, Jodi, to run by in her pink top and black running pants.

“For the past three years she has run the full, and this year she decided to, I wouldn’t say take it easy, but she didn’t prepare hard enough this year, so she decided to do the half instead of the full,” he said.

Mehr said his wife was much more relaxed this year knowing that she was running the half, but that wasn’t the only difference.

“It’s warmer,” he said. “This is the warmest that it's been on the four mornings that we’ve been out.”

The temperature at the beginning of the race was 48 degrees and edged up to 52 degrees by the time Yimer crossed the finish line.

All Las Vegas Marathon and half-marathon runners received a finisher’s medal and hearty cheers from the crowd. More than 15,000 runners represented 47 counties in one very long race through one very infamous city.

Below are the 2008 Las Vegas Marathon Overall Male Results:

1. Abebe Yimer (Ethiopia)

Age: 28

City: Las Vegas, NV

Chiptime: 02:27:27.00

Chiphalf: 1:10:08

-First Clark County Winner of the Las Vegas Marathon

2. Geoffrey Kiprotich (Kenya)

Age: 30

City: Coon Rapid, Minn.

Chiptime: 02:27:59.00

Chiphalf: 1:10:09

3. Brendon Moody

Age: 27

City: Van Wert, Ohio

Chiptime: 02:36:31:00

Chiphalf: 01:21:18

Below are the 2008 Las Vegas Marathon Overall Female Results:

1. Nadezhda Tuptova (Russia)

Age: 33

City: Gainesville, Fla.

Chiptime: 02:48:20.00

Chiphalf: 01:22:43

2. Ramona Sanchez

Age: 31

City: Las Vegas, Nev.

Chiptime: 02:56:33.0

Chiphalf: 01:28:42

3. Beth Gerdes

Age: 28

City: Carlsbad, Calif.

Chiptime: 03:03:19.00

Chiphalf: 01:33:16

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2008 Las Vegas Half Marathon results

Male

1st Place - Rob Smith (England)

Age - 33

Chiptime - 1:04:09:00

2nd Place - Emisal Favela (Cicero, Ill.)

Age - 31

Chiptime - 1:09:48:00

3rd Place - Jake Puzey (Hermiston, Ore.)

Age - 26

Chiptime - 1:12:38:00

Female

1st Place - Cheryl Murphy (Victoria, Canada)

Age - 39

Chiptime - 1:18:51:00

2nd Place - Lisa Veneziano (Fenton, Mich.)

Age - 44

Chiptime - 1:25:02:00

3rd Place - Sarah Healy (Lexington, Mass.)

Age - 32

Chiptime - 1:26:15:00

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