Mindi Pukstas expected to go into Sunday's Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon trying for a Guinness World Record.
Pukstas was going to push his 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Gabija, in a stroller.
But the rain kept Gabija on the sidelines and her father won the men's marathon in 2:31.33.
Pukstas was an All-American runner at Oklahoma State in 2003, placing 11th in the country that season.
Two years ago, Zac Freudenburg set the record for finishing a marathon while pushing a stroller in 2:32.10 at The Williams Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa.
“It was a good decision,” Pukstas said. “I was pretty comfortable out there but it's hard because I was by myself most of the time.”
Pukstas, a graduate student who is originally from Lithuania, won his third marathon.
He won two in 2006, one in Austin, Texas, and another in Istanbul.
“Back then, I was running a lot,” Pukstas said. “I haven't been doing it much lately though.”
Pukstas finished seven seconds ahead of Scotty Downard. The third-place finisher was more than 13 minutes behind.
Pukstas is married to OSU jumps coach Zivile Pukstiene.
NEWCOMER TAKES WOMEN'S EVENT
With the weather the way it was and with calves that had been bothering her, Alaina Zanin's only goal was to finish the marathon.
But her boyfriend, OSU assistant track coach Bobby Lockhart, kept pushing her.
“He was there the whole way, yelling, ‘You're only 90 seconds behind,' and then, ‘You're only 60 seconds behind,'” Zanin said. “He was definitely pushing me.”
The possibility of a marathon win started to come into focus for the 24-year-old when she took second place with about five miles remaining.
Zanin eventually took the lead, winning the women's marathon in 3:05.14.
She finished just more than a minute ahead of second-place Katie Kramer.
It was just Zanin's second marathon. She also ran in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon in 2009, finishing in 3:22.55 and in 38th place.
“I'm really surprised,” a shivering Zanin said. “The weather was just nuts and just to finish was an accomplishment.”
Like Pukstas, Zanin now lives in Stillwater. She's originally from Kenosha, Wisc.
CHEMO TAKES A BREAK FOR RUNNER
Kimberly Begay has competed in several long distance races, but just completing the 5K run in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was her proudest feat yet.
That's because Begay, an eighth-grade teacher at Taft Middle School, had been lying in a hospital bed for almost a month before Sunday's race.
She was just released from Mercy Hospital on Tuesday after receiving her first dose of chemotherapy for leukemia. She was scheduled to begin a second round of treatments Monday.
Begay, 24, was diagnosed with the disease on April 2. Still, she wanted to run in the Memorial Marathon with more than 80 other Taft students and teachers.
“Everyone thought I was crazy but I love running,” she said.
Her only goal was to finish the race. She did so in a time of 40 minutes, 52 seconds.
“I asked the doctor if I felt like it, could I run five miles,” Begay said. "He said ‘If you feel like it, go for it.'
“I took that as a green light. I think it's pretty amazing that I can run this thing five days out of chemo treatment.”
BOMBING NOT THE ONLY REASON FOR RUNNING
Jerry Faulkner, 29, of Edmond not only was running in memory of Oklahoma City bombing victims on Sunday, he also was running for lives lost in the recent earthquake in Japan.
“My wife is from Japan and we had some family members who were in the tsunami and some friends we couldn't find,” he said. “I knew some people who passed away in the bombing too.”
Faulkner, winner of the 2006 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, won this year's men's half-marathon. Faulkner completed the half-marathon in a time of 1:09.52.
Faulkner, manager of the OKRunner store in Edmond, ran the half-marathon as a tune-up for a full marathon in three weeks.
LIGHTNING DELAYS RACE
While the rain that fell constantly throughout the day Sunday didn't stop the marathon, early morning lightning did.
For the first time in the 11 years of the race's existence, the start was delayed.
The storm pushed the start back 30 minutes to 7 a.m.
For 17-year-old Nic Gillis of Claremore, the weather wasn't a problem while he was running.
Gillis finished the half marathon with a personal record 1:38.17, around five minutes better than his previous best.
“The wind was to my back most of the way so it wasn't a problem really,” Gillis said. “Once you hit your stride, once you got comfortable, it was fine.
“After the race was the worst part.”
After his finish, Gillis joined a large group of people huddled inside the parking lot of the Hudson Essex loft office building near the finish line.
DAVIS CROSSES TWICE
McKale Davis, a graduate student at Oklahoma State, won the women's half-marathon. She actually crossed the finish line twice.
Race officials wanted to get a photo of her breaking the tape but didn't see her soon enough. So they had her return for a photo finish.
It was the first Memorial Marathon for Davis, who ran collegiately at Texas Christian University and OSU.
Davis, 26, said this marathon definitely feels different than other races.
“Whenever they started the moment of silence (before the race), it was just powerful. It was humbling and sobering and it really made you want to just go out there and give it your best.”
GROUP RUNS FOR WENDY
Ten runners in the 5K each were wearing green “Team Wendy” t-shirts.
Wendy is Wendy Ashworth of Oklahoma City, who just finished 14 months of cancer treatments. Friends and family from Oklahoma City, Choctaw and Norman ran the 5K in her honor.
Ashworth said she and her husband, David, used to run four or five miles almost every day before she became ill.
“I love them all,” she said of Team Wendy. “They are amazing. It was awesome all they have done for me.”
COUNTRYMAN CROSSES AGAIN
The first Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was the first marathon that Edmond resident Alan Countryman ever ran.
It wasn't his last. Countryman has finished each Memorial Marathon ever since and has completed marathons in 20 other states.
“There is nothing like this one,” Countryman said. “The start of the race brings on a celebration that is like no other marathon out there.”
VANDAWALKER HONORS SISTER
McAlester native Phylicia Vandawalker was named Homecoming Queen at Southeastern Oklahoma State in October, but the sense of accomplishment she felt Sunday was something different.
Vandawalker was competing in her first half marathon, running in memory of her little sister, Piper Riley Vandawalker, who died one year after the Oklahoma City bombing.
“I know that she is watching over me everyday,” Vandawalker said.
RUNNER GIVEN CHOCOLATE MILK
In addition to water and sports drinks, runners were given the option of drinking chocolate milk after finishing the race.
The Got Milk? campaign's Refuel With Chocolate Milk tour made a stop at the marathon, encouraging runners to use the non-traditional drinks to recover post-run.
“We're helping athletes retool and rethink how they recover,” spokesman Ashley Rittenhouse said. “Milk has the right carb to protein ratio to help a body recover after high-endurance events like running a marathon.”