By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Sandy Lynch is no stranger to running marathons, in fact Sunday’s Tupelo Marathon was her 22nd such event.
Through her first 21 attempts, though, Lynch had yet to cross the finish line as a winner.
Thanks to increased speed work to prepare for a vigorous course, that changed as Lynch finished 20 minutes ahead of her closest competitor in winning the female side of the 28th Tupelo Marathon.
“I’ve never done a whole lot of speed work until getting ready for this marathon,” the Florence, Ala., native said after placing 13th overall in a field of 225 finishers. “This is probably one of the toughest marathon courses because of all the rolling hills.”
In her fourth Tupelo race, Lynch battled the effects of Tropical Storm Lee to finish at 3:18:03, well ahead of second place finisher Karen Martin (3:38:41) of Jonesboro, Ark. Overall, Lynch said she felt the weather conditions helped more than hurt.
“The wind was kind of at our face the first half, which made it a little tougher,” Lynch said. “It definitely helped as far as the rain. The cooler temperatures were wonderful.”
“It was actually nice weather,” male marathon champion Caleb Hammonds said, echoing Lynch’s thoughts. “Having a little rain and overcast weather is actually a blessing.”
Running his third marathon, Hammonds claimed his first win with a time of just under three hours (2:57:50). The Flowood resident outran runner-up John Cobbs (Birmingham) by 45 seconds.
Tupelo’s Bridgett Jolly claimed fourth place in the women’s marathon with a time of 3:41:56, finishing 46th overall. The top male finisher from the area was Cory Lee of Baldwyn (26th, 3:29:30), followed by Tupelo’s Nathan Hall (29th, 3:32:17).
New 14.2 winners
The 14.2-mile race also crowned new champions. Little Rock’s Imari Dellimore (1:33:03) edged Terry Lawhead of Hattiesburg (1:33:10) in a close finish. Plantersville’s Israel Melendez finished third (1:34:30).
The women’s 14.2 mile race came down to two area runners as Starkville’s Kelly White (1:36:24) won over Charlene Kevin (1:50:19) of Oxford.
Complete results in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.