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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 10, 2001

Russian women dominate, finishing 1-2-3

 •  Challenge, triumph ignite 2001 marathon
 •  Kenya's Hussein Marathon champ
 •  Schabort uses mental edge for fourth consecutive title
 •  Jackson surprises self in fast start
 •  Age group winners
See video of the top men and women finishers

By Casey McGuire-Turcotte
Special to The Advertiser

Lyubov Morgunova of Russia overcame a slow start and windy conditions in the first half of the race to repeat as the women's winner of the Honolulu Marathon yesterday.

Lyubov Morgunova said the windy conditions prevented her from challenging the Honolulu Marathon record that she set last year. She finished in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 54 seconds yesterday.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Morgunova, who set the course record last year in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 33 seconds, finished the 26.2-mile race yesterday in 2:29:54, the third fastest women's time in the history of the Honolulu race.

"This victory was much harder for her than last year because of the weather," said Konstantin Selinevich, Morgunova's agent and interpreter.

"Given the conditions, she is just happy to win and happy to have broken 2:30," he said.

Morgunova had hoped to run faster in the first half of the race and to challenge the record she set last year, but it was clear from the 5 a.m. start that the wind would be a factor.

After coming through the first five kilometers in 19:00, two minutes off the 17:00 she had planned, Morgunova broke from the lead pack and never looked back. Braving the wind on her own, she blazed through the 10K mark at 36:55, and came through the half-way point in 1:15:40.

"I was pushing the whole way," Morgunova said. "I had wanted to go under 1:15 for the first half. These were the toughest conditions I've experienced this year."

She averaged 6:16 per mile for the race.

Russian women swept the top three spots. Svetlana Zakharova, who won the race in 1997, finished second for the fifth time in six years in 2:30:38.

"I'm going to come back here until I win again," Zakharova said.

Elena Paramonova finished third in 2:33:53.

Franca Fiacconi of Italy (2:39:31) was fourth and Mari Tanigawa of Japan fifth (2:44:39).

The three Russian women do not train together, as they each live in different parts of the country.

With yesterday's victory, Morgunova won $15,000 plus a bonus for running under 2:30.

Morgunova is quick to point out that money is not the reason she runs.

"When I was near the finish line and saw my time was close to 2:30, I wasn't thinking about the bonus," she said. "Especially in a marathon, you don't think about anything as much as you think about just finishing."

Selinevich said Morgunova's training had been excellent coming into the race.

"She has been training very seriously for this race (125 miles a week) for 10 weeks now," Selinevich said of the 5-foot, 110-pound Morgunova. "Both Lyubov and Svetlana (Zakharova) are very strong."

Morgunova, 30, has big plans for next year, but racing may not be a part of them. She plans on taking a break from running to raise a family with her husband, Alexander.