More than 900 runners took part in the fourth annual "Miles with the Giant" race Sunday, but it was a handful of Kenyans who mostly dominated the podium.
Evans Maiko Momanyi finished first overall with a time of two hours, 27 minutes and 25 seconds, defeating two-time defending champion Gilbert Kiptoo, who finished at an even 2:34. Thunder Bay native Mark Maronese, who finished third, was the top local with a time of 2:41:32.
A pair of Kenyans also topped the half marathon, with Josephat Ongeri taking the top prize and Dancan Kasia finishing second. Another local, Trevor Zimak, rounded out the top three.
On the women's side, Niki Wilberforce won the full marathon, with Ashley Goodlad in second and Heidi McGee in third. Lisa Alaimo took the half marathon, followed by Winny Tonui and Alice Sherwin.
Stewart Schmidt of Thunder Bay was the top finisher in the 10K race.
Kenyan runners concerned about events in Nairobi
For most of the Kenyans, the joy of victory was mitigated by the harrowing events unfolding in their country's capital Nairobi, where a group of militants opened fire on a mall full of shoppers Saturday, killing dozens.
"It gave me some stress," said Kasia, whose wife and children live in Nairobi but were not involved in the attack.. "I didn't sleep well."
Momanyi said he was "surprised" to see the news about the attack. His family lives in Kisii, about 300 km northwest of Nairobi, but Momanyi said he often trains in the Ngong hills just outside the capital.
"It's nice for training," he said. "It's the high altitude."
Ongeri said he was worried about his family, but was able to stay focused on the task at hand.
"I was thinking about [the attack], but today was racing. I was thinking about the race."
This was the fourth year for the Thunder Bay Marathon, also known as Miles for the Giant. Event chair Barry Streib said the number of participants this year was roughly equal to last year, which he said is a good sign.
"We're really happy with that," he said.