AMY MCDONAUGH, SECOND U.S. WOMAN, RUNS WITH A RAINBOW.
CLAY SHAW PHOTO

Kipkosgei, Bedada Win Woodrow
Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon

BY DAVID BLOCK

Alexandria, VA--When the second annual Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon took place this past October 2, Moses Kigen Kipkosgei of Kenya was uncertain if he would win. Derese Deniboba of Ethiopia, who won last year with 1:04:44, was also competing.

After 5 kilometers, Kipkosgei was certain that the pace was too slow, so he moved ahead.

At the 10K mark, Kipkosgei felt confident that he could win. “My time was 29:28,” said Kipkosgei in broken English. “I was still running alone.”

Between the seven- and eight-mile mark, Deniboba caught up to Kipkosgei, but could not keep up. “He broke away after 30 seconds,” said Deniboba. “I couldn’t stay with him, my leg was hurting.”

Kipkosgei believed he could win when he hit the 10-mile mark in under 47 minutes.

Kipkosgei won the half-marathon in 1:02:37, setting a new course record. Deniboba finished second in 1:02:56, beating the course record that he set last year.

Finishing third was the first U.S. runner, Jordan Horn of Flagstaff, AZ, who clocked 1:03:53. “I played it conservative the first half of the race,” said Horn. “I decided to move the second half of the race, but they (the two leaders) had the same game plan.” Horn was happy because his finishing time is under the 65-minute qualifying time needed to compete in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Finishing fourth was Abiyot Endale of Ethiopia in 1:04:01 and fifth was Danny Mercado of Flagstaff, AZ in 1:04:03.

Bekelech Bedada of Ethiopia, 1:12:44, was the first woman finisher. She broke last year’s course record of 1:13:17, set by Catherine Ndereba.

Bedada said through her manager, Alem Kahsay, that she expected to win after the race started because there was no one challenging her. “When I saw my 10-mile time, 53:34, [I knew] it would be my day.”

Gladys Asiba of Kenya finished second with 1:15:57. “By 10 miles, I knew I couldn’t catch her,” said Asiba.

The first U.S. woman, Michelle Miller of Damascus, MD, finished third in 1:19:43. “This was my first time running this half-marathon,” said Miller. “The race was a lot harder than I thought it would be.” She knew that there were two women ahead of her, but she never saw them.

Mekides Bekele of Ethiopia finished fourth, 1:20:04.

The second U.S. woman, Amy McDonaugh of Irmo, SC, finished fifth in 1:24:01. The 34-year-old McDonaugh is completely blind in her right eye and has between 20/300 and 20/400 vision in her left. This past spring, McDonaugh was the first overall woman finisher at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, OH, 2:58:14.

Despite these recent accomplishments, the biggest thrill for McDonaugh is just being alive. “When I was 11, the doctors didn’t think I’d live to be 12,” said McDonaugh.

The first 10 years of her life were completely normal. “I had friends and I was happy,” McDonaugh remembered. Then one day she developed a serious toothache. Her family thought that a trip to the dentist would solve the problem. To their horror, the young McDonaugh had Arteriovenous Malformation, a disease that causes an abnormal tangling of blood vessels. It was found in her right cheek. For the next 18 months, McDonaugh had 18 operations. She went from having 20/20 vision to having partial sight in her left eye and being blind in her right eye. Doctors also removed the middle of her tongue.

After all the surgeries, “My friends from before were now uncomfortable around me,” said McDonaugh. “Their moms told them to still be nice, so they said hi, but nothing beyond that. I felt like nothing, nothing but a medical case.” Kids who didn’t know her made fun of her and called her names. Emotionally hurt, depressed, and without friends, she cried a lot.

At age 20, she met her future husband, Jim. He gave her rides to the Community College. It turned out that he was incredibly shy like her, so they hit it off.

After giving birth to her third child seven years ago, McDonaugh was depressed and overweight. “I was stuck in the house all the time with three kids, so I had to get out and do something,” she remembered. She began running 20 minutes three times a week and liked it. “That was the first time in my life I did any type of sport.”

With practice, her endurance and speed improved. She caught the running bug. Her depression lifted and she is happier with her life. She plans to run more marathons.