Great day for a marathon; Frost three-peats, Graves back atop men's field

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PORTLAND—More than 2,500 runners completed the 24th Gorham Savings Bank Maine Marathon, Half-Marathon and relay in Portland Sunday and they took advantage of optimal racing conditions with temperatures in the lower 40s at the start.

All three races ran together before the 6.5-mile mark where the half-marathoners turned around on Route 88 in Falmouth, while the marathoners and relay teams continued on into Yarmouth before making their return trip to where they started on Baxter Boulevard.

Evan Graves, 34, of Caribou, won the men’s marathon for the second time in five years, completing the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 59 seconds.

“The conditions were perfect,” Graves said. “I ran this in 2011 and it was rainy and windy. This is a great course and today was a perfect fall day to run.”

Graves showed he was ready to run a fast time after a three-year absence from the race. He was never seriously challenged throughout and assumed control early as he stuck to his race plan which no one could match.

“I felt good,” Graves said. “I went out smart. Right around six-minute pace, 5:55. That was my plan the whole time. I stuck with it and it turned out pretty well.”

Following behind Graves was Robert Ashby, a 47-year old Brunswick native, who finished in 2:41:31, with Sean Cameron, of Boston, running 2:42:26 for third.

The women’s race featured a strong field which included eventual winner Leah Frost, 32, of Glover, Vermont. For Frost, it was her third straight victory and she used her knowledge of the course to separate herself from the rest of the field.

“I’m just more experienced now with the course,” Frost said. “I felt better knowing the course more.”

Frost started out strong and continued to increase her lead during the second half of the race.

“I didn’t really know where I stood until about the halfway point,” Frost said. “Then I saw the second-place woman and I only had about a 20-second lead on her, so I picked it up after that.”

Frost, who actually has a house in Round-Pond, near the coast of Damariscotta, finished in 2:47:34, her fastest winning time yet. It was also the fastest winning time for a woman since Emily LeVan won in 2004 (2:39:54). Rachel Coogan, of Allston, Massachusetts, placed second (2:53:03) with Mary Pardi, of Falmouth, third in 2:54:38.

In the men’s half-marathon, Mike Fisher, 31 of Brookline, Massachusetts, was victorious in 1:12:10. Unlike Frost and Graves, he didn’t have the luxury of running alone and made a surge during the last mile which created separation between him and runner-up finisher Ivan Reznik of Arkhangelsk, Russia.

“I went out conservatively and knew I had to be patient and see what I had the second half,” said Fisher. “I felt decent and the guy I was battling with, we just progressively picked it up, and I was able to make a move in the last mile.”

Scarborough native, Mike Griffin, was fourth in 1:17:11.

In the women’s half-marathon, Jenna Krajewski, a 35-year old native of Hallowell, took home the victory in 1:20:18. Maine was very well represented in the women’s half marathon, sweeping the first three places.

Kristine Irish, of North Yarmouth, was second, running 1:21:09 with Gabrielle Wheeler, of New Sweden, third in 1:23:05.

“It went very well,” said race co-director Howard Spear. “We have great volunteers, so everything went smoothly. It was cool in the morning, maybe too cool, but it warmed up. Leah ‘s the first to win three in a row.”

Spear said that fewer runners participated than what was projected.

“Our numbers were down quite a bit,” Spear said. “The area is over-saturated with races.”

Next year’s race, held Sunday, Oct. 2, will be the 25th and Spear said he’s already thinking about how that might play out.

“We’ll start making plans,” Spear said. “We’ll see what more we can do for the runners. We hope to get the numbers back up and have even more money to give to charities.”

Sidebar Elements

Leah Frost shows off her spoils after winning the women’s race at Sunday’s 24th Maine Marathon.

Mike Fisher heads toward victory in the men’s half-marathon Sunday.