OTTAWA — After chasing but not catching two-time champion Coree Woltering in 2017, 17-year-old Reese Borlin knew he'd have to traverse the 26.2 miles of the Starved Rock Country Marathon even more quickly this year if he wanted to improve upon his runner-up finish from the year before.
Borlin did, and he did.
The young distance runner from Washington, Ill., shaved almost 11 minutes off his time from the previous year and completely dominated a field which did not include defending hometown champ Woltering, with Borlin claiming the championship of the fifth annual Starved Rock Country Marathon presented by Samuel Adams. Borlin finished the scenic La Salle County course in 2 hours, 42 minutes, 22.3 seconds, nearly 17 minutes ahead of the next runner to cross the finish line.
"I went a lot faster than I thought I would at the start," said Borlin, who like the rest of the field waited out a rain delay which pushed the start of the full marathon from 7 to 7:45 a.m. and kept things cool for the main event. "I was hoping for a 6:20 (minutes per mile) average and started out like 6:40, but I just felt really good the whole time. I definitely prefer this weather to the 80 (degrees) it was going to be.
"Last year I came in second to Coree Woltering. He wasn't here this year, so I had my hopes up I could win. I definitely wanted to improve and get closer to (Woltering's event-record time of 2:41:35.7 from 2017).
"I really like the course, and I really like the feel of the race. It isn't huge, it's more local."
In all, 176 runners completed the full marathon, 591 the half marathon and 95 the inaugural Run Starved Rock Country 5K presented by Ottawa Savings Bank.
None of them was able to keep up with Borlin, although last year's fourth-place finisher Tom Smith (2:59:08.4) and 2017's third-place runner Josh Rogowski (2:59:40.0) both also came in under the three-hour mark — Smith finishing second this year, Rogowski again completing his 26.2-mile test third overall. Brian Taylor (3:01:18.0), Mike Stotz (3:10:20.4), Lee Rivers (3:11:05.0) and Joe Sues (3:11:24.9) rounded out the top seven, with Abe Nelson (3:15:44.9) also scoring a top-10 overall finish by placing ninth and Paul Campion (3:25:15.1) 10th of the men.
Crossing the finish line between Nelson and Campion was Patricia Schaefer, of Springfield, Ill. Schaefer was the top women's finisher with a time of 3:24:27.9, over a dozen minutes faster than the women's runner-up.
"It wasn't my best, but it definitely wasn't my worst either," said Schaefer, a first-time Starved Rock Marathon runner. "This is my 29th marathon and my first rainy one ... and the organizers obviously did the smart thing postponing (the start of the race). I was sitting in my car, it was just pouring, and I was like, 'I'm glad we're not running in that.'
"The course was awesome — tons of support, tons of aid stations. I would definitely recommend it to anybody. ... I'm trying to get back to where running is fun again, and I had more fun today than I had in my past couple marathons."
Kim Foster (3:36:51.3), of Ottawa, placed second in the women's field in her first marathon, with Mary Liesse (3:40:38.2) coming in third. Filling out the women's top 10 were Marina Santiago (3:43:06.6), Sandra Durkin (3:44:07.3), sixth-place finisher Ashley Outhouse (3:50:30.8), Sarah Cain (3:50:36.3), Chloe de Perre (3:52:42.7), Dena Cohen (3:57:28.7) and 10th-place female finisher Rachel Brady (3:57:33.7).
This marked the third consecutive year and fourth in the SRC Marathon's five-year history that both full marathon winners came from Illinois, and was the first time since the inaugural race in 2014 that both the male and female top finishers were from Illinois but not residents of Starved Rock Country.
A complete list of marathon finishers can be found at racingexpectations.com.