Brendan Lunty has a long way to go to catch Phil Meagher if he wants to take over the record for the most wins in the Red Deer Woody’s Marathon.
Lunty captured his second straight title, winning the 15th annual affair in two hours, 49 minutes 24.20 seconds Sunday morning. The win leaves the Camrose resident five wins behind Meagher.
“I don’t want to think about that . . . I’m not even close to half way yet,” Lunty said with a laugh. “Those would be big shoes to ever fill. I just enjoy coming here and it really doesn’t matter if I win or not. It’s fun being here.”
Lunty shared the spotlight with Joelle MacDonald of Airdrie, who finished 11th overall and won the women’s title in 3:18:48.40.
Craig Schmidt of Red Deer finished second overall at 2:50:28.40 and pushed Lunty for most of the race.
“Every time I looked behind me he was right on my butt,” said Lunty. “I’d think I was putting some distance between us and look behind and there he was. The last time I looked before I got to the top of the hill we were in the trees by the golf course (River Bend) and he was right behind me, which was kind of discouraging, so I decided not to look again. When I got to the top of the hill I looked again and couldn’t see him. That hill makes a difference.
“But I was glad he was there, he pushed me and made it more exciting.”
It was the first marathon of the season for Lunty, who was making his 10th appearance in the race.
“It’s been a long winter and not great for training so I’m not in as good a shape as normal, but I’m just happy to come back here. I love it. It’s one of the best races of the year with the trails, the volunteers and fans.”
“This is my sixth time here and it’s my favourite race,” she said. “I’ve competed in three half marathons and three full and it’s first class . . . second to none.”
MacDonald’s performance was spectacular as she broke her personal best by 45 minutes.
“There’s no way I expected that,” she said. “I’ve been training for my first 100-kilometre ultra marathon in St. Paul in October and this was just part of it. I hoped to finish in around 3:45, so I couldn’t be happier. What a great day.”
It was the first win ever for MacDonald, who runs at least one marathon a month during the summer.
“I’m also competing in a 50k marathon next month, so I do a lot of running, which I love,” she said.
MacDonald trailed Amy Benson of Edmonton by close to two-and-a-half minutes at the halfway mark, but didn’t take long to pass her.
“I got a real boost at the 10k mark when they said I was second and I caught her just past the halfway mark and never saw her again,” explained the 41-year-old MacDonald, who has always been a runner and got into marathons in her “late 20s”.
Brian McArthur of Red Deer was third overall at 2:57:15.75 with Rory Whitbread of Lacombe at 3:01:59.55 and Julian Price of Sylvan Lake at 3:03:10.40.
Benson finished second for the women and 18th overall at 3:29:16.40 with defending champion Bonnie Rouse of Calgary 21st at 3:31:50.60.
AJ Rankel of Edmonton won the half marathon in 1:20:13.10 with Mark Fewster of Calgary at 1:24:32.60 and Kit Richmond of Red Deer at 1:25:33.00.
Kristan Spady of Red Deer was the top women, and sixth overall at 1:28:15.90 while Naomi Schmold of Edmonton was 19th at 1:33:17.00 and Cara Barry of Airdrie 20th at 1:33:24.25.
Devin Woodland of Three Hills, who was the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference cross-country champion for RDC, won the 10-kilometre race in 36:49.30 with Dusty Spiller of Red Deer second at 36:58.35. Former RDC star Jodi Sanguin of Red Deer was first among the women and third overall at 39:30.10 and Jordanna Cota of Hunting Hills High School fourth at 41:57.10.