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story.lead_photo.caption From left, Adam Bradbury, 31, of Bryant; and Tia Stone, 38, of Searcy - Photo by Emma Pettit

A man and a woman from central Arkansas earned first-place finishes at the Little Rock Marathon on Sunday.

Adam Bradbury, 31, of Bryant crossed the line first with a time of 2:45:43. The race began around 7:05 Sunday morning.

A fan club of his parents and siblings cheered him on from the sidelines of Main Street. They whooped when he strode through the finish, flanked by a police escort, and handed the rain-soaked runner a towel and dry clothing.

Jennie Bradbury, Adam's mother, said her son didn't take to running until he graduated college, but his interest doesn't surprise her. They're an athletic family, she said.

Adam's father, Rickey, competed in the half marathon Sunday morning and hung around to cheer as his son won the full race. And Adam's wife, Nicole, was also running the 26.2-mile course this morning. She had just a few miles to go when her husband completed the race.

Bradbury said that when he first took up running as a hobby, he started with 5Ks, and the competitions just got longer from there. It's a stress reliever, he said.

He didn't even mind the off-and-on drizzling that stuck around for most of the race because it kept him cool.

“I get hot easily,” Bradbury said.

Tia Stone earned the first-place finish for female runners.

The 38-year-old female champion from Searcy said this is her 19th marathon and the race in Arkansas' capital city holds a lot of history for her.

The Florida native came to the Natural State to run track and cross country at Harding University. She's now lived in the state for 16 years and is an educator at her alma mater. She teaches a class on kinesthesiology — basically, the science of running, Stone said.

Stone said her final race time of 3:00:44 was just 10 seconds off from her first-place finish last year. She started with a pack of fellow female runners but started to pull away about 10 miles in. It was then that she locked in on a male competitor in front of her and didn't let him out of her sight, she said.

Another factor that kept Stone motivated was support from someone she called a Little Rock Marathon legend: Leah Thorvilson. Thorvilson has taken the top prize in the race five times, and she’s on a biking expedition that took her away from the race this year, Stone said.

But Thorvilson sent Stone a Bible verse for support before she competed Sunday morning and said she’d be rooting her on from afar. The verse, Isaiah 46:5, contains a phrase that’s something like “God is in me," Stone said. The first-place finisher repeated the mantra over in her head as she ran through Little Rock city streets.

While out on the course, Stone said, she also thinks about her four children, ages 6 to 12, and her husband, whom she calls an “elite spectator.” During her races, Stone's husband carts their children around to different spots along the course.

On Sunday, they cheered her on from at least four or five different spots along the route, she said. Knowing they're out there helps during the more than 26-mile slog.

“I knew my family would be right here at the end."

Read Monday's Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • MaxCady
    March 5, 2017 at 11:08 a.m.

    He doesn't look like a typical marathoner. Where were the Ethiopians and Kenyans??