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Athletes compete in test of speed, strive to attain first-place finishes at 20th annual Austin Marathon

On a morning when the sun didn’t peek out of the cloudy sky until 9:30 a.m., Keith Pierce turned the corner of Congress Avenue onto the final 100-meter stretch of the Austin Marathon.

Pierce, who’s from Cedar Park, won the race for the second year in a row, finishing with a time of 2:29:25, almost nine minutes longer than his 2010 time. Pierce is the only Central Texan to win the full marathon.

The annual Livestrong Austin Marathon, which celebrated its 20th anniversary Sunday, began at 6:30 a.m. for the 18,000-plus participants partaking in the full and half marathons — 26.2 miles and 13.1 miles, respectively.

The marathon, which had representatives from all 50 states and more than 20 countries, has brought in more than $90 million to the local economy since 1992, according to Livestrong.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Joan Benoit Samuelson, the winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984 and the current record holder for the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon and Olympic Marathon, spoke to the runners before the start.

Samuelson completed the half marathon alongside her daughter, Abby, and Austin resident Lance Armstrong. Armstrong finished in an hour and 22 minutes and 53-year-old Samuelson in 1:24:52.

Leffingwell and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, held the first-place banners for each event at the finish line.
In the half marathon, Austin native and repeat winner David Fuentes came in with a time of 1:08:26, 18 seconds slower than his winning time from last year.

“I feel great,” Fuentes said. “My legs are getting a little bit sore, but it’s expected with these kind of hills in Austin. But it’s a great day. Great course. Great fans. Everything is wonderful. I mean Austin — you can’t beat it.”

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Desiree Ficker, also an Austin resident, finished first among women in the full marathon and 21st overall. Ficker clocked a time of 2:50:35, three seconds faster than last year’s two-time winner, Elle Pishny.

Fort Worth native Elizabeth Eder came in 27th overall in the half marathon with a time of 1:21:56, the top women’s time for that race.

In the Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K, two Austinites came out on top: Matthew Kutugata clocked 15:29 to finish first among men and Karen Killeen was the top women’s runner with a time of 19:28.

Courtney Washer completed the wheelchair half marathon in 3:12:05.

When you get over being in shock at how many people are here, you can notice some differences, like accents,” said Matthew Pearson, a marathon runner who was competing in his first race ever. “It really doesn’t matter though. We’re all the same; we’re all trying to finish.”