Air Force Marathon: Men's, women's winners cross finish line

Area runner wins second Air Force Marathon in three years

The 23rd annual race is delayed by a storm

» PHOTOS: Scenes from the finish line

“It got warm at the end, but I ran really smart,” said women’s winner Ann Alyanak. “I knew at the beginning just slow it down, just run relaxed and don’t worry about the pace. It worked out perfect.”

“It was nice and controlled,” said men’s winner Juris Silenieks. “Exactly what I wanted.”

Alyanak, 41, of Bellbrook, won the full marathon for the second time in three years. She finished the 26.2-mile race in finished in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 15 seconds. Her pace was 6:35.

Amelia Zwiener, of Pensacola, N.C., finished second in 3:19.20. Lizbeth Nieves, of Chicago, placed third in 3:27:18.

Alyanak won the 2017 marathon in 2:56.57. 

“I was a lot faster than I was two years ago,” Alyanak said, “but I was in a lot better shape. The 2017 marathon was my first one in six years. This one, I just had consistent training. The kids are older now. that helps.”

Alyanak, who ran for Purdue and won the Big Ten cross country championship in 2001 and later coached cross country at the University of Dayton, is a mother of three. Her kids are 9, 6 and 3. They were all at soccer games Saturday with her husband Ed, an engineer in the Air Force and a triathlete.

The Alyanaks balance their training with taking care of their kids and “make it work,” Ann said. Running makes her a better mom, she said.

“Just because that’s my happy place,” she said. “I get my run in, and I’m much happier.”

» PREVIEW: What to know about 2019 races

Alyanak used this race as training for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which take place in February in Atlanta. She placed seventh at the event in 2008 when she was in her prime as a marathon runner. She competed at the Trials again in 2012 but was injured and didn’t finish.

“This time is all about enjoying it,” she said. “I’m going there to obviously try to run well, but it’s kind of the icing on the cake and to prove to myself I can get back there and then just enjoy it.”

Silenieks, 26, of Bath Township, Mich, is also training for the Olympic Trials. Qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is a longshot, he said, but he hopes to finish in the top 30.

Silenieks, who ran for Syracuse University’s 2015 national championship men’s cross country team and now coaches at Lansing Catholic High School (Mich.), finished this race in 2:22.37. His pace was 5:27 per mile. 

Harrison Kirigwi, of Columbia, S.C., finished second in 2:28.03. Daniel Kirwa, of Gibsonton, Fla., placed third in 2:33.03.

Silenieks ran with Kirigwi through mile 17 before taking the lead for good. Silenieks wasn’t affected the rain that delayed the start by more than 30 minutes but said it was humid and rough out on the course.

“Those last four miles are tough,” he said. “The last four hurt big time.”

This was his third marathon and his first victory.

“The first one I was second,” he said. “In my second one, I was fourth. It feels good to win.”

Other races

Half marathon: Jason Salyer, of Columbus, won the men’s 13.1-mile race in 1:12.56. The women’s winner was Emily Shertzer, of Jonestown, Pa. Her time was 1:23.10.

10K: Daniel Garza, of Dearborn, Mich., was the top men’s finisher (33:29). Maria Scavuzzo, of Oxford, won the women’s race (36:45).

5K: Justin Weckler, of Xenia, won the men’s race (18:14). Malia Stephens, of Beavercreek, won the women’s race (20:55).

Wheeled marathon: David Berling, of Avondale, Ariz., was the top male finisher (1:13.54). Holly Koester, of Walton Hills, Ohio, won the women’s race (1:57.29).

Juris Silenieks wins the Air Force Marathon on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

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