Tim Pearson heard the footsteps of fellow Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario resident Deborah Buhlers and he wasn't surprised.
"Ounce-for-ounce, pound-for-pound, gender-for-gender, she's a better runner, there's no doubt about it," Pearson said after winning the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber Chase marathon Saturday in 2 hours, 54 minutes, 43 seconds. "I could hear her coming for the last mile, so I had to pick it up a little bit."
Buhlers, a former standout at the University of Waterloo in southern Ontario, finished just over a minute back at 2:55:53.
It was a small field of just 36 marathoners and an even smaller number of elite runners two of the five runners with Boston Marathon-qualifying times were in the 60-and-over age categories but the top runners put in impressive performances, especially Buhlers, who was running her first-ever full marathon.
"I was really happy to go under 3 hours," Buhlers said. "I was shooting for 3, and and I beat that by 5 minutes, so yay!"
Buhlers’ decision to run the full marathon had to do with the race being local and the course being relatively flat and fast other than the International Bridge in the beginning.
"It's just something I've alwasys wanted to do," she said. "So I thought, well, let's give it a shot. The bridge is OK, actually, I guess because you're going on it, fresh. If it was on the end, I would have been, no thanks."
In the men's race, following Pearson were Curt Van of Sault Ste. Marie, Jeff Kuhl of Clarkston, Robert Britain of Wayzata, Minn., and Ed Hunt of Gaylord. In the women's race, Buhlers was followed by Rosemary Baldwin of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Teresa Redmond of Kalamazoo, Sarah Vantol of Midland, and Barbara Brady of Livermore, Calif.
Buhlers wasn't the only runner winning at a new distance: Jill Wieciech of Marquette won the half-marathon in 1:40:25. Not only was her previously-longest race a 10k "so this is, like, twice as far," she said this was her first time visiting the Sault.
"I've been training the last few months and I was hoping to do an 8-minute mile," said Wieciech, who finished with a 7:40 mile pace. "I beat that today, so I'm just happy.
"I loved going over the International Bridge. That was awesome."
Wieciech was followed by Kirsty Mancuso of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Carrie Eisler of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Jocelyn Fabry of Sault Ste. Marie, and Danna Sanderson of Sault Ste. Marie.
Winning the men's half marathon was Nathan Mudge of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., followed by Nick Adamo of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.; Lee Kanitz of Hessel, Jonathan Studer of Sault Ste. Marie, and Nicolas Springer of Sault Ste. Marie.
In the men's Bridge Run, Mark Wetzl of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., won in 42:31, followed by Robert Harris of Boyne City, Randy Vining of Sault Ste. Marie, Gary Fellows of Sault Ste. Marie, and Kelly Culhane of Wawa. In the women's race, Whittney Laderoute of Sault Ste. Marie won in 50:07, followed by Courtney Manttari of Wawa, Ont., Stephanie Grosuenor of Marquette, Sarah McManus of Grawn, and Kristin Cason of Sault Ste. Marie.
In the 5k, Cody Carena of Sault Ste. Marie won the men's race in 119:33, followed by Joshua Wall of Vanderbilt, Andrew Grosvenor of Marquette, Dan Brown of Sault Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., won in 24:35, followed by Megan Blamer of Boyne City, Sandra Gaines of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Jinelle McKenney of Brimley, and Aaliyah Miller of Mattawan.