Sunday, despite the rainy conditions, approximately 4000 people participated in the second annual Prairie Fire Wichita Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K events. This year, the Wichita Sports Commission ironed out a few kinks in the course from last year, taking out the loop near the Old Town Warren Theater and taking out the 180 degree switchback. They added pace groups, large Pizza Hut course markers and entertainment on the course.
“I enjoyed the entertainment that was there. Having run both years now, I can say I thought the course was easier to follow this year, but part of that was having better general idea of it from last year. But I also thought it was marked a lot better. I liked the big mile markers in the middle of the roads.” – Randy Phelps
However, the cobblestone streets in College Hill remained as part of the course making slippery conditions for the runners in the rainy conditions. The short section of gravel thru Cowtown also remained and some found the marathon and half marathon split-off to be confusing.
“They need a person at the split where the half and the full part, that person need to be yelling :Half this way Full straight ahead! I know of one very fast runner that missed the turn for the half. Other then the split, it was very easy to follow.” — Dale Bing
The Sports Commission added $10,000 in prize money this year which ‘brought out the big dogs’ to run. Average times for the top 5 men in the marathon went down over 9 minutes this year compared to last year and the women went down 1 minute and 40 seconds.
Jacob Buhler, 24, of Edmond Oklahoma cruised into the finish line in first place with a time of 2:29:44. Last year’s winner, Tim Marshall, 27, of Wichita came in second with a time of 2:35:46 followed by Thomas O’Connell, 21, of Wichita in 2:39:58
In the women’s marathon race, Sarah Williams, 21, of Hiawatha Kansas blew away the competition finishing in 3:03:56. Tiffany Cone, 32, of Edmond Oklahoma finished second with a time of 3:20:17 and Lacy Hansen, 30, of Wichita finished third in 3:22:38.
In the half marathon the average top 3 men’s times went up almost 3 minutes from last year when the women’s times fell over 8 minutes.
Benson Chesang, 28, of Lawrence, a former Kansas University track star, took first in the men’s half marathon with a time of 1:12:09 with Dennis Smithhisler, 47, of Wichita coming in second with a time of 1:13:43 and Joseph Eby, 30, of Wichita coming in third with a time of 1:14:55.
In the Women’s race, Tonya Nero, 22, of Wichita, a former Wichita State track and cross-country star won with a time of 1:15:42. Camille Herron, 29, of Warr Acres Oklahoma was second with a time of 1:17:14 and Last year’s winner, Raquel Stucky, 36, of Pretty Prairie Kansas was third with a time of 1:18:42.
For Complete results click here.
The generally feeling and comments on the Prairie Fire Facebook page are very positive with the marathon and half marathon. The athletes village at the start and finish were set up well and gave participants a great place to hang out and discuss their race and hang out with friends and family.
The Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon is on its way to becoming a great marathon supported by a wonderful running community.