By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – Shawn Greenhill’s race strategy could have cost him in Sunday’s 32nd annual running of the Tupelo Marathon.
At 16.5 miles of the 26.2-mile race, the Russellville, Ala., resident caught the leader and passed him on his way to a winning time of 3 hours, 56 seconds.
“At mile 15, I was told I was second,” Greenhill said. “I ran a 6:30 pace to catch him. He wasn’t looking good, so I cranked it up. I didn’t want him to go with me.
“I’m glad he didn’t come with me, because (that move) killed me.”
Tommy Bonds of Iuka finished second in 3:13:47.
He said the marathon’s new course and the humidity were his biggest challengers.
“The course is hard, tough,” he said. “It has hills and the wind was blowing as you were coming in. I was hoping for a little rain.”
The Tupelo Running Club changed the course this year to start and finish at the BancorpSouth Arena downtown.
The Tupelo Marathon offers runners their last opportunity of the year to make a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.
Mission accomplished for first-time marathoners Amy McCrory and Kayleigh Skinner.
McCrory, of Horn Lake, won the female open title in 3:21:03, while Skinner, of Jackson, finished second in 3:25.17.
Both runners recently completed their college distance running careers at Ole Miss.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” said McCrory, who ran the 1,500 meters in college. “It was every bit as painful and awful as I expected.”
The strategy was for both runners to attempt a 7:50-mile pace. “We’re idiots. We ran 7:30s, but we qualified for Boston,” McCrory said.
“It was very hard, but it was worth it,” Skinner added. “But, I won’t do another marathon for a long time.”
Misty Griffin, of Birmingham, and Ron Yancy, of Belden, were the 13.1-mile winners.
All the race times are posted at www.besttimescct.com.