Illinois Marathon: McGrory claims third wheelchair title

Illinois Marathon: McGrory claims third wheelchair title

CHAMPAIGN — Amanda McGrory has a thing for the local marathon in odd years.

In 2009, when wheelchair entrants competed at a 10-kilometer distance in the inaugural Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, the Savoy resident was the women’s winner.

In 2011, the second year wheelchair athletes participated in the half-marathon that covers portions of Champaign and Urbana, she set a women’s record (54 minutes, 24 seconds) that stood until Saturday.

McGrory not only won her division this year but she also blew away the meet record, stopping the clock in 50:47.

“I’ve raced marathons the past two weekends (placing third among women at Boston and second among women at London), and this was supposed to be an off week,” said the 26-year-old McGrory, who leaves today for an upcoming marathon in Korea. “This was the fastest half I’ve done.

“I had a little jet lag and had an easy week of training,” she said.

It wasn’t tough to feel competitive.

“It was a beautiful day, and that makes you want to go fast,” she said.

In the men’s wheelchair division, Parkland College student Gyudae Kim edged defending champion Joshua George by 11 seconds. Kim, 29, originally from South Korea, took more than three minutes off the previous men’s division record, finishing in 48:12.

“Just keep pushing,” said Kim, a bronze medalist in the 2012 London Paralympics for the 1,500 meters. “Good conditions. Good weather. Good audience.”

George kept up until a turn close to the 121/2-mile mark in the 13.1-mile event.

“We had to go around a U-turn,” George said. “He turned sharper. I had to pivot and stop, and Kim was gone.”

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