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Jebichi Yator came up just short of her goal of setting a course record in the women’s half-marathon at the Lincoln Marathon, but she still won the event for the first time.

Yator, 28, is from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and grew up in Kenya. She knew of other runners who had run the Lincoln Marathon before, and heard it was a fast course.

She finished on Sunday in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 58 seconds. She came up just short of her goal of bettering the course record of 1:15.10. It was still her best half-marathon time.

“I wanted to try and break the course record. I knew it was hard, but I tried,” Yator said.

Yator came to the United States in 2014, but had been training in Kenya during the winter.

Yator led the race most of the way, and said she was pushed along by several male runners.

“We were with some other guys who were trying to push me to improve my time,” Yator said.

She finished 20th overall. She’ll run another half-marathon next week in Indianapolis.

* SEVENTH-GRADER JOINS FAMILY RUNNING: As a teenager running amongst thousands of adults, Kaylie Crews gets a lot of reaction.

“Most of them say, ‘Good job’, and, ‘You go, girl,’” Crews said. “It makes me feel good. I like having the support.”

Crews, 13, is a seventh-grader in Papillion. This was her second half-marathon. Her family got her into running.

“My mom ran, and my dad’s in the military, so we’ve run all around. It’s fun,” she said.

Crews finished in 1:46.14, which was ahead of her mother.

“I usually run with my mom, but she lets me go ahead after awhile,” Crews said.

Crews finished 228th out of all female half-marathon finishers, and placed first in her age group. There were 42 finishers in the 14-and-under female age group, including one 9-year-old runner, Emili Nelson from Omaha.

* WINNERS HAVE LOCAL TIES: Race co-director Gary Bredehoft said it was a thrill to see to runners with local connections win the men’s and women’s marathon races.

Men’s winner Eric Noel is a Lincoln native, and women’s winner Kaci Lickteig lives in Omaha.

“With all the volunteers, and the local track club putting (the marathon) on, I think it’s always great to see our local kids and local people here win,” Bredehoft said. “It was really nice to see that. We’re always ecstatic to have some local talent here, and give them the opportunity to win and make their name known.”

Bredehoft said the cold and wet conditions meant some entered runners chose not to start the race. The race was filled for the 10th straight year, with about 13,000 entries.

Sunday saw 1,059 finishers in the marathon, and 8,901 in the half-marathon.

Bredehoft said there will be a meeting to discuss whether the race field can expand any more.

“We’ll sit down with the city, police department and all departments and see how it went and then decide from there,” Bredehoft said. “I know the city would like to see us go up because if we can get more people coming into the city, it’s always more income. But we as an organizing committee want to make sure that we keep the quality of the race. We just don’t want to go up with numbers and affect the quality.”

* NATIONAL GUARD RUNNER LOVES LINCOLN: Varinka Barbini Ensminger of Lexington, Kentucky, loves coming to Lincoln each year to represent the Kentucky Army National Guard.

She was the top women’s marathon finisher in the National Guard division in 3:09.18.

She ran in the Boston Marathon two weeks ago, but wasn’t going to use that as an excuse to miss the Lincoln race.

“It’s the best race of the year just because it’s soldiers and airmen running,” she said. “But then it’s supported by soldiers and airmen. And this year unfortunately with funding a lot of airmen couldn’t come, so a lot of us were running in honor of teammates who couldn’t be here.”

Barbini Ensminger is a major with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. There were six other runners from the Kentucky National Guard.

“It’s a big reunion,” she said. “Last night we had the roll call of the states and everybody stands up, and the Generals give us a, ‘Good luck.’”

 

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Sports reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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