Griffin beats the heat in rare return to hometown

By Blake Long/Special to the Journal

TUPELO – Dale Griffin received a warm welcome back to his hometown. So warm, in fact, he even left with a first-place trophy.
The 32-year-old Griffin, who now lives in Pearl, won the 29th Tupelo Marathon on Sunday in his first attempt on the hilly course.
“This is the first year that I’ve been home in quite a while, but it’s always very rewarding,” said Griffin. “I got in the lead and that’s just how it ended up.”
Griffin finished in just under three hours, at 2:59:08, to win the first marathon of his career. Alabama residents John Cobbs (2:59:45) and Deivid Delgado (3:09:53) finished second and third, respectively.
Chelsea Young was a late entrant into the Tupelo Marathon, but her first visit to Mississippi paid off with a win on the women’s circuit.
Young, who recently moved to Atlanta from Michigan, crossed the finish line in three hours, nineteen minutes. Jane Shettles of Tupelo placed second at 3:27:36.
“I was kind of training all summer for a race, but never picked one. I picked this one like a week and a half ago,” Young said. “I emailed the race director (David Whiteside) and asked if there was still room and he let me in.”
Boston bound?
Both champions’ finish times were good enough to qualify them for the Boston Marathon in April.
As daylight broke, racers found overcast skies but dealt with humid and blustery conditions throughout the race.
“Personally, it was horrible for me,” Griffin said. “From what I hear, though, this is a typical Tupelo Marathon.”
Three-time marathon champion Leah Thorvilson of Little Rock, Ark., won the women’s 14.2-mile race at 1:35:41. Thorvilson, who was originally not scheduled to participate due to injury, outran her closest competition by nearly 18 minutes.
It took Tupelo’s Jim Brown a little over 90 minutes (1:30:44) to win the men’s 14.2-miler.
There were 246 finishers in the marathon, 219 in the half-marathon.

Top finishers in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.