Tupelo Marathon: Undone at start, first-timer rolls to big victory

The medals awarded to marathon finishers read "TRC (Tupelo Running Club) Remembers Boston" on the back. (Lauen Wood)

The medals awarded to marathon finishers read “TRC (Tupelo Running Club) Remembers Boston” on the back. (Lauen Wood)

By Kyle Alford
Special to the Journal

TUPELO – Early Sunday, distance runners lined up at a starting line to begin, and hopefully finish, a journey.

The Tupelo Marathon and 14.2 Miler took place throughout the county roads and residential sections that make up West Tupelo and Belden.

It was Alan Ash’s first marathon, and a good one at that.

He finished first with a time of 2:36:16 – more than two minutes ahead of the runnerup.

Ash survived an awkward moment at the start.

“Right before they shot the gun, I realized my shoe was untied, so I had to tie it about 20 seconds into the race. I got into second around the half mile, but was 20 seconds behind the leader until I got to the 14 mile mark.

“I knew I was going to have to work to try to catch him and try to make it a race, and on the way back I was able to slap high fives with some runners running towards us that gave me some adrenaline and kept me going.

“I thought that if I could stay an equal distance away from the guy in the lead I could make it a race in the second half, and I was blessed to be able do that.”

The 22-year-old from Atmore, Ala., graduated in May from Vanderbilt, where he was a member of the Commodores’ track and cross country teams.

The leader at the halfway mark, Chuck Engle, 42, of Coos Bay, Ore., finished second in 2:39:54. Samuel Morgan, 24, of Lexington, Ky., was third in 2:51:47.

Former Tupelo winner Leah Thorvilson of Little Rock, Ark., was the first female finisher to come through at 3:05:32. Micah Morgan, 30, of Birmingham was second (3:08:06) and Jane Shettles of New Albany was third (3:24:52). Thorvilson, 34, said she didn’t consider herself a lock to win until she was in sight of the finish.

Alan Ash, the top male finisher in the Tupelo Marathon Sunday morning. (Lauren Wood)

Alan Ash, the top male finisher in the Tupelo Marathon Sunday morning. (Lauren Wood)

“I didn’t know that I was going to win until about a hundred meters from the finish,” she said.“I’m still on the comeback from having surgery on my hamstring so I didn’t know what I was going to be capable of running. I knew I had a chance of winning right around the halfway point of the race.”

She led Morgan by about two minutes at the halfway point and eventually extended that lead by another minute.

There were 256 finishers in the marathon, 231 in the 14.2-mile race.

John Dean of Hayden, Ala., finished first for the men in the 14.2 miler, running a 1:38:06. Sam Garner of Tupelo was second in 1:42:40.

Kelly McNair of Birmingham won the women’s division of the 14.2 in 1:48:30, with Heather Duley of New Albany second in 1:50:32.

Sunday in Tupelo

Top 10 Males
1, Alan Ash, 22, 2:36:16, Atmore Ala.

2, Chuck Engle, 42, 2:39:54, Coos Bay, Ore.

3, Samuel Morgan, 24, 2:51:47, Lexington, Ky.

4, Leonard Vergunst, 57, 3:05:11, Ocean Springs

6, Joshua Prevatt, 29, 3:05:38, Brandon, Fla.

8, Miles Martin, 34, 3:10:13, Florence, Miss.

9, David Anderson, 48, 3:10:34, Danville, Ky.

10, Jim George, 55, 3:11:00, Goatmilk

Leah Thorvilson, the top female finisher in the Tupelo Marathon Sunday morning. (Lauren Wood)

Leah Thorvilson, the top female finisher in the Tupelo Marathon Sunday morning. (Lauren Wood)

11, Dink Taylor, 48, 3:14:21, Hampton Cove, Ala.

12, Hugh Lefler, 39, 3:14:36, Nashville

Top 10 females
5, Leah Thorvilson, 34, 3:05:32, Little Rock, Ark.

7, Micah Morgan, 30, 3:08:06, Birmingham, Ala.

19, Jane Shettles, 40, 3:24:52, Belden

23, Sandy Lynch, 44, 3:29:18, Florence, Ala.

31, Bridgett Jolly, 39, 3:35:42, Tupelo

32, Samantha Wyatt, 38, 3:36:36, Decatur, Ala.

40, Kathleen Dirosato, 49, 3:40:55, Decatur, Ga.

41, Dora Baker, 34, 3:42:08, Pike Road, Ala.

43, Donna Bruce, 48, 3:42:40, Madison

47, Susan Keith, 52, 3:44:49, Birmingham, Ala.

Top 10 Males
1, John Dean, 33, 1:38:06, Hayden, Ala.

2, Sam Garner, 32, 1:42:40, Tupelo

4, Keith Ingram, 30,1 :50:23, Southaven

7, Kurtis Larson, 32, 1:51:59, Garyville, La.

8, Ben Kerr, 38, 1:52:09, Ridgeland

11, Mark Pryor, 44, 1:53:37, Germantown, Tenn.

12, Adam Gussow, 55, 1:54:02, Oxford

14, Brad Atkinson, 34, 1:54:13, Madison, Ala.

15, Wade Holland, 50, 1:54:24, Pontotoc

18, David Williams, 32, 1:55:43, Brandon

Top 10 females
3, Kelly McNair, 36, 1:48:30, Birmingham, Ala.

5, Heather Duley, 37, 1:50:32, New Albany

6, Alison Hammersla, 43, 1:50:39, Germantown, Tenn.

9, Alison Hoover, 47, 1:53:15, Hoover, Ala.

10, Esther Sanders, 43, 1:53:34, Belden

13, Lynn O’Neal, 49, 1:54:08, Fulton

16, Amy Chandler, 33, 1:54:33, Corinth

17, Stacy Richards, 36, 1:55:02, Florence, Ala.

20, Jill Hollander, 38,1:56:58, Wildwood, Mo.

22, Jill Knight, 37, 1:57:45, Tupelo

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