BURRELL TOWNSHIP — If the area’s most accomplished marathoner had fresh legs for Sunday’s race at Saylor Park, then Joshua Gorman may not have coasted through the finish line minutes ahead of the pack.
Instead, Indiana Road Runners Club standout Tom Lipsie opted out of the second annual Indiana First Bank Veterans Marathon and Half-Marathon and gave way to the 32-year-old aerospace engineer who just moved to Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
Competing in his sixth marathon this year, Gorman separated himself from the crowd around the 5-mile mark and then kept a torrid pace the rest of the way to earn his first career win in the 26.2-mile race Sunday. Gorman finished with a time of 2 hours, 51 minutes and 8 seconds, which was 49 seconds faster than Lipsie’s time last year.
Lipsie chose not compete because he ran in the St. George Marathon in Utah last month. He placed 29th overall and third in his age division.
Ohio resident and Florida native Nicole Brown, a professional triathlete, won the women’s marathon with a mark of 3:36.15. Ryan Barlow won the men’s half-marathon with a time of 1:18.35, and Marilyn Gregory took the women’s half-marathon in 1:32.47. The Indiana-based relay team of Donny Bowers, Al Lockard, Jeff Duffee and Brian Bowersox placed first with a time of 3:22.58.
Marathoners ran on the Ghost Town Trail from Black Lick to Dilltown and back. Half-marathoners ran to Heshbon and back, a 13.1-mile trot. All proceeds of the race benefit the Indiana County Veteran’s Assistance Fund. The fee for both races was $26.20.
The course was certified for all competitors to try and post a Boston Marathon qualifying time.
“This is my first win and it feels good,” Gorman said. “I just want to get better, and this is a step in the right direction. My goal is to hit 2 hours and 45 minutes in Boston, so I’ve got a long way to go.”
Second-place finisher Ed Koontz (2:55.41) and third-place finisher Witold Lipski (3:07.47) each stayed on Gorman’s heels for the first five miles of the race before losing sight of the Seattle native for good around the 6-mile mark.
Gorman fought off severe fatigue for the last five miles, only to sprint the homestretch and then spring across the finish line with an ear-to-ear smile. He later said he thought Koontz and Lipski were in striking range for the last few miles of the race.
“I felt myself slowing down in the last five miles and I thought he was going to pass me,” Gorman said of Koontz. “I knew he was coming up on me, and with the headwind, I thought I was slowing down. We are at about an equal skill level so I really thought he was going to pass me at any minute, but it never happened.”
Koontz, a Bethel Park native, admitted that he couldn’t catch Gorman after the 20-mile mark.
“He must have been feeling the ghost from the Ghost Town Trail because I wasn’t anywhere near that guy,” Koontz said.
Less than a year removed from having her gall bladder removed, Brown pulled off a remarkable feat and notched a first-place finish in just her second career marathon.
“It’s been a challenge for me just to try and keep food down,” Brown said. “So I couldn’t really prepare the way I wanted to. I think the furthest I did was a 16-mile run in preparation last week. You have your good days and your bad days, though, and today was a good day, so I’m happy.”
Barlow, of Zelienople, hustled through the finish line to best Pittsburgh’s Matt Haag by 16 seconds. Gregory topped second-place finisher and Indiana native Jennifer Beatty by 5:06. Stephanie Beatty, of Indiana, placed third with a time of 1:40.01.
Carrying an American flag through each leg, Bowers, Lockard, Duffee and Bowersox teamed up to outrun second-place Team RWB #2 by 6:57.
Bowers is a teacher at Indiana High School, Duffee is a teacher at Indiana Junior High School, and Bowersox is a sophomore at Indiana High School.
“It’s was really fun because we had the camaraderie going,” Duffee said. “We ran with the flag and it was fun to pass it to each other. It felt like we were passing the baton in track during a relay. We were here as a group supporting each other and cheering each other on, and it was fun. It really worked out for us.”
Indiana native Mary Jean Bujdos placed sixth in the women’s marathon (3:59.50). Jean Yves-Boulard, also of Indiana, finished ninth in the men’s marathon (3:28.03).