(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
Youssef Zirari made the Vancouver USA Marathon look like any old Sunday run.
For some of the other finishers, humid conditions meant getting to the finish line took longer than expected.
Zirari, a 26-year-old Vancouver resident, separated himself from the rest of the field right from the starting gun. He completed the 26.2-mile footrace in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 25 seconds, a time that was more than three minutes faster than Cody Barton's winning time in last year's inaugural race — and more than 14 minutes faster than runner up Jon Heli of Portland.
The sun came out early in the marathon, making for conditions that were more muggy than runners from the Northwest usually experience. The result was fewer fast times than in the first Vancouver USA Marathon last June.
The Northwest climate is why women's champion Angie Fiese chose to race in Vancouver. After struggling through the notorious heat at April's Boston Marathon, the Mableton, Ga., resident chose Vancouver for mild conditions.
"It still felt cooler than Atlanta," she said after finishing in a personal-best 3:07:40 to beat the next woman by nearly 10 minutes.
The half marathon champions were Kevin Ko of Portland, who completed 13.1 miles in 1:17:24, and former Vancouver resident Lauren Breihof in 1:25:28. Breihof, 23, was the women's Vancouver USA Marathon champion last year.
Both of Sunday's marathon winners controlled the race most of the way. Zirari, who told the crowd at the finish line that 1,500 meters is his racing specialty, sprinted to a 30-second lead by the second mile and was the only runner to maintain a sub-6 minutes per mile pace.
Though he didn't push Zirari, runner-up Heli of Portland was pleased to run his personal-best marathon time. He said he overcame some early struggles and got stronger has his race went along.
The 31-year-old Portlander was among those praising the course and the event.
"It's nice and small so you don't feel like your just some random person among many thousands of runners," Heli said.
Like the men's champion, Fiese quickly distanced herself from the rest of the women in the marathon. She took the lead near mile six, but wasn't celebrating her first marathon win until the final 20 miles were complete.
"The marathon is really special," the 34-year-old said after finishing her eighth since taking up running in her late 20s. "It can go really great or you can fall apart. You just never know. I was running and I felt good, so I just kept running."
Another runner who appreciated the weather was Guy Potter of Durham, N.C. The 42-year-old finished seventh overall and was the masters division winner as the first runner older than 40 to finish. Potter's time of 2:57:59 beat 44-year-old Brian Meenaghan of Seattle by 12 seconds and made his goal of finishing in less than three hours. Eighth-place finisher Meenaghan was the last to break three hours.
Like Fiese, Potter figured Vancouver would provide good conditions to put behind him the misery of finishing 30 minutes slower than planned at Boston.
"I decided this would be my chance to redeem myself," he said after completing only his third 26.2-mile race.
After Zirari, the top marathon finishers with Vancouver ties were Matt Urbanski, who finished fifth, and Micah Rice, who was 10th. Rice is the News Editor for The Columbian.
Urbanski and his wife Julie lived in Vancouver for more than three years. They recently spent more than a year traveling to races around the world including their first 100-mile ultra marathon in February in Texas.
Urbanski's time on Sunday was 2:53:55. It was the 10th marathon in 2012 for the 28-year-old, who is training for another 100-mile race in August. He and Julie currently live in Seattle, and she is promoting her self-published book titled "The Trail Life" about hiking the Pacific Crest and Appalachian trails.
A total of 566 runners finished the marathon, and 1,153 completed the half marathon. Those numbers were down from 800 in the marathon and 1,427 who completed the half marathon in 2011.
Among the men half-marathoners, 36-year-old Ryan Miles was the first Vancouver resident to finish. He placed sixth in 1:22:07. David Cummings of Vancouver was eighth in 1:25:09.
Finishing second in the women's half was Vancouver's Katrina Mueller, finishing in 1:28:21, just less than three minutes after Breihof. Also among the top-10 women in the half were Vancouver residents Angela Gula (1:32:30) and Tami Wright (1:32:52).
2012 VANCOUVER USA MARATHON
Top 10 men
1, Youssef Zirari, 26, Vancouver, 2:34:25 (course record).
2, Jon Heli, 31, Portland, 2:48:34.
3, David Kyle, 34, San Francisco, 2:49:29.
4, John Strother, 38, Salem, 2:51:59.
5, Matt Urbanski, 31, Seattle, 2:53:55.
6, Trae Richardson, 28, Eugene, 2:57:17.
7, Guy Potter, 42, Durham, N.C., 2:57:59.
8, Brian Meenaghan, 44, Seattle, 2:58:11.
9, Alex Gay, 23, Portland, 3:01:06.
10, Micah Rice, 35, Vancouver, 3:01:24.
Top 10 women
1, Angie Fiese, 34, Mableton, Ga., 3:07:40.
2, Julie Bertoia, 35, Henderson, Nevada, 3:17:01.
3, Michelle Bird, 29, Portland, 3:22:29.
4, Kate Fischer, 29, Portland 3:23:36.
5, Kristina Cupp, 19, Vancouver, 3:28:26.
6, Karissa Hudspeth, 37, Salem, 3:29:29.
7, Linnea Alejandre, 26, Vancouver, 3:32:14.
8, Heidi Wood, 27, Portland, 3:33:01.
9, Kat Degroat, 36, Wilsonville, Ore., 3:33:27.
10, Andrea Strutin, 29, Portland, 3:35:04.
Top 10 men
1, Kevin Ko, 27, Portland, 1:17:24.
2, Andrew Lee, 24, Vancouver, 1:18:40.
3, Kyle Roozen, 32, Milwaukie, Ore., 1:18:58.
4, Will Justice, Portland, 1:20:08.
5, Lawrence Merrifield, Jr., 44, Portland, 1:20:45.
6, Ryan Miles, 36, Vancouver, 1:22:07.
7, Martin Pletcher, 20, Sammamish, 1:22:54.
8, David Cummings, 32, Vancouver, 1:25:09.
9, Jacob Fullen, 21, Kent, 1:25:19.
10, Francisco Maya, 40, Beaverton, 1:26.
Top 10 women
1, Lauren Breihof, 23, Redmond, 1:25:28.
2, Katarina Mueller, 20, Vancouver, 1:28:21.
3, Gretchen Van Dyke, 34, Tacoma, 1:29:41.
4, Laura Matsenko, 29, hometown not available, 1:31:13.
5, Angela Gula, 20, Vancouver, 1:32:30.
6, Tami Wright, 34, Vancouver, 1:32:52.
7, Valerie Cross, Flagstaff, Ariz., 1:37:35.
8, Melissa Mocklin-Dwiggin, 36, Beaverton, 1:38:17.
9, Sierra Zollinger, 19, Burley, Idaho, 1:39:05.
10, Jamie Stenstrom, 36, Wilsonville, 1:40:20.