Elemental endurance: Even top runners struggle with conditions
Footraces of 26 miles, 385 yards are hard enough. Toss in multiple hills, high winds and unseasonably warm weather, and the Little Rock Marathon turned into more of a challenge Sunday.
Not even the fastest left unscathed.
Jeremy Provence was the overall winner for the second consecutive year with a time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, 47 seconds. Gryphon Ketterling finished second in 2:47.44, and Nicholas Inniger was third in 2:48.44.
It took Provence, the head coach of the men's and women's cross country programs at North Alabama, several minutes to recover enough to explain the effort required for his repeat.
Provence, Stone win LR Marathon
Jeremy Provence of Florence, Ala., won the Little Rock Marathon for the second year in a row Sunday, but the victory did not come without a struggle.
Provence, 29, won in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, 47 seconds, but in Sunday’s warmer temperatures he said he had to battle over the final 4 miles of the 26.2-mile course.
Coming to the finish line, Provence weaved and struggled, and he spent about 10 minutes with medical personnel afterward.
“Not a good day to run a marathon in regards to [getting] a good time,” he said. “But I toughed it out and I won. But it was tough. I got dehydrated.”
Provence won in 2:42:23 last year when the race was held in rain and light snow with temperatures hovering in the high 30s. The temperature at the finish line was 65 degrees when Provence finished Sunday.
On the women's side, it was another repeat winner: Tia Stone crossed the line with an unofficial time of 3 hours, 7 minutes, 10 seconds.
Stone, 41, of Searcy, won the women's division of the Little Rock Marathon from 2016-18. Like Provence, she said she also struggled in the final miles.
"I just hoped my calves would let me finish," she said. "They would cramp and then go back. So I was trying to work it around my legs. Just thankful for the finish."
Read Monday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full coverage.
— Steve Rogers and Yutao Chen