Rojas Takes Grandmas Marathon Title

By Carolyn Mather

DULUTH, MN, JUNE 22—After meeting Nell Rojas at the national championship half-marathon in Pittsburgh, I witnessed her win the Bolder Boulder 40 years after her dad, Ric, won the first Bolder Boulder. Nell grew up in Boulder and the race was always on her radar. When I heard she was running Grandmas Marathon, I had a feeling that she was due for the win. At the pre-race press conference, she was very humble and excited about the possibility at Grandmas.

Nell Ran her first marathon at Cal International in December and finished with a 2:31 going into to it to run a sub-2:45. She wanted to get the IAAF Olympic standard of sub-2:29:30 at Grandmas. She came into the race excited and willing to go for it. She went out conservatively for the first half and had four other women with her when she made her move. She was able to run with a male runner for a bit then he dropped. She was a little distraught as now she was on her own with no runners near her. But she put her head down and started chasing the men ahead of her, passing them one at a time.

Coming down the homestretch, Nell looked incredibly strong and broke the tape for a win in her second marathon with a solid 2:28:09. She was thrilled with the win and spent the next few hours with interviews and an interview at the finish line as marathoners two hours behind her finished. She was a gracious winner and so accommodating to everyone.

After her interviews and drug testing, Nell and her mother, Mary, shared lunch with me as she related how well her second marathon went. She realized at halfway that the women with her were breathing hard and struggling a bit. That was when she made her move. She felt she ran hard, but could have perhaps run harder if she had had a woman racing her.

At 31, Nell has not been a “marathoner” and ran CIM getting ready for an Ironman. She had been a professional triathlete but all of the training wore her out. It appears she’s found a place in the marathon. She plans to run the Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta next February with an eye on an Olympic berth on the team in 2020 or 2024. Being new to the marathon, she wants to build over the next ten to twelve years. She is glad she waited until she was more mature to pursue the marathon.

Nell is coached by her dad, Ric, and she is a big proponent of undertraining. She only does one hard workout a week and coaches in Boulder and has her own gym. Nell is a true breath of fresh air as she is so appreciative and laid back. She definitely is a hit in Duluth and has to be considered a factor on the Road to the Gold in Atlanta.

Nell Rojas of Boulder, CO wins Grandma’s Marathon in 2:28:06. ( Photo courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon and Matthew Moses Photography.)

Duluth had a nearly perfect day as the skies were bright blue with nary a cloud as the temperatures remained in the mid 50s the entire race. Five men and four women met the Olympic Trials qualifiers in the Half and two men and seven women met the A standard and twenty men and thirty five women attained the B standard in the marathon. The predicted tailwind was not noticeable.

In the men’s race ZAP athlete Andrew Colley, 28 of Blowing Rock, NC, nearly caught Kenyan Boniface Kongin, 29, who established a substantial lead early, running course-record pace alone until he began getting cramps in his calves and struggled mightily, relinquishing most of his lead, but held off a gaining Colley 2:12:01 to 2:12:15. Colley told me at the finish that he was cramping badly and could not have run any faster.

Andrew Colley of Blowing Rock, NC finishes second overall in Grandma’s Marathon with a solid time of 2:12:13. (Photo courtesy of Grandma’s Marathon and Matthew Moses Photography.)

There were many tears and congratulations among the qualifiers. It was a gorgeous day for a marathon and many set personal bests. As always Grandmas continues to be the best marathon for every runner. The crowds were huge, cheering on all of the runners in a race where every participant is a star. The volunteers, sponsors, community, and of course the staff of Grandmas put 110% plus into every aspect of the races and they shine brightly always. Nobody, nowhere does it better. It truly lives up to it reputation as a world-class marathon with small town charm!

Top Women

  1. 2:28:06 Nell Rojas CO
  2. 2:33:12 Margaret Njuguna KEN
  3. 2:33:21 Sophie Seward CO
  4. 2:34:02 Dakotah Lindwurm MN
  5. 2:35:04 Amanda Marino NJ
  6. 2:35:07 Molly Grabill CO
  7. 2:36:05 Sarah Cummings NY
  8. 2:36:11 Pasca Myers IA
  9. 2:37:47 Addi Zerrenner CA
  10. 2:38:46 Sarah Kiptoo KEN
  11. 2:39:03 Mary Akor (42) CA
  12. 2:39:08 Megan Lacy ID
  13. 2:39:23 Carissa Galloway OR
  14. 2:40:00 Tristin Van Ord NC
  15. 2:40:17 Rachel Drake OR
  16. 2:40:24 Kristen Findley UT
  17. 2:40:38 Heather Lieberg (40) MT
  18. 2:40:48 Kristina Aubert IL
  19. 2:41:11 Jenelle Deatherage (41) IL
  20. 2:41:14 Sara Mostatabi CA

Top Men

  1. 2:11:56 Boniface Kongin KEN
  2. 2:12:13 Andrew Colley NC
  3. 2:13:01 Habert Okuti UGA
  4. 2:13:39 Joseph Whelan TX
  5. 2:15:26 Craig Hunt AZ
  6. 2:16:01 Nick Caprario MO
  7. 2:16:25 Rory Tunningley TX
  8. 2:17:03 Chris Bendtsen NY
  9. 2:17:03 Christopher Kipyego (45) KEN
  10. 2:17:04 Austin Roth GBR
  11. 2:17:06 Alexander Taylor MA
  12. 2:17:08 Evan Landes KS
  13. 2:17:08 Jeffrey Seelaus MA
  14. 2:17:18 Mitchell Klingler MI
  15. 2:17:24 Eric Ashe MA
  16. 2:17:27 James Wilson KS
  17. 2:17:29 Evan Gaynor OH
  18. 2:17:30 Dan Harper IL
  19. 2:17:31 Jason Lynch UT
  20. 2:18:00 Mark Leininger NJ

Categories: Race Coverage

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