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Big hug

Sammy Rotich (front) of Clive, Iowa, hugs race director Nancy Sutton after setting a record time winning the men's half marathon on Sunday.

Sammy Rotich has chased the elusive course record at the Lincoln Half Marathon for nearly a decade.

After coming within a minute of Richard Kaitany’s 1988 mark three times in the past five years, Rotich finally claimed the record on Sunday at the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium with a 13.1-mile time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 11 seconds.

“I’ve been coming and promising for so long to get the course record,” Rotich said of Kaitany's 1:04:34. “It’s just a great day for me.”

It was Rotich's seventh victory in the Lincoln half.

Rotich, 32, woke up at 5:30 Sunday morning and checked the weather on his phone.

The Kenyan native said that is when he knew it was going to happen. The wind was a non-factor and the course wasn’t too hot, about 55 degrees at the start of the race, and those were the conditions he was hoping for all week.

“I told my roommate that the wind was not that big and I was going to push it,” Rotich said. “I told him that whoever wins, wins, but the most important thing is to try to push as much as we can. We did it.”

Rotich crossed the finish line in Memorial Stadium and fell into the arms of his close friend, and Lincoln Marathon director, Nancy Sutton.

The two embraced each other in a special moment just seconds after Rotich delivered on his promise to set the course record.

“I saw her at the 10K and we didn’t talk,” Rotich said, “but I gave her a little look and we kind of knew everything was going to be good.”

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At that 10-kilometer mark, Rotich said he felt very good about his pace and even better about the weather and how it was playing out.

“I just made sure to keep track of my work,” Rotich said. “The splits were almost all the same. I knew if I kept doing the splits, I’d do my best. The most important thing you have to keep speed, if the miles are constant you are good. If they aren’t, then you just lose the time.”

The women’s half-marathon was just as entertaining.

Pasca Myers, the defending Lincoln half champion, etched her name in history as she ran a 1:14:54, setting the women's course record.

The previous record was held by Amber Anderson, who ran a 1:15:10 in 1995.

“My goal was just to get out good at the start,” the 32-year-old Myers said, “then I would just see how my body feels.”

Myers ran a 1:13:18 in a half-marathon last weekend, so this week she “didn’t want to hit it too hard.”

Well, Myers’ definition of not hitting it too hard set the course record.

Myers said the hill heading north from Nebraska 2 on 20th Street was a trying one and it tested her quite a bit.

“Yeah, that was a tough hill,” Myers said laughing. “It’s a good thing I was with a marathon runner. He told me, ‘You know you can go ahead and pass me,’ and I responded, “No, you are pushing me.’ It was good to not be by myself.”

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