Kenyan marathon runner Elisha Barno took home the gold, and set a new record, at the 8th Annual 26.2 with DONNA Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Florida Times-Union reports that the 29-year-old man completed the marathon in record time. Finishing with a brisk winning time of 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 19 seconds, Barno beat the previous marathon record set by Tesfaye Girma of Ethiopia by a little more than two minutes. This is the first marathon win of his career.
26.2 with DONNA is a non-profit organization based in Jacksonville dedicated to organizing events to raise money for breast cancer research. Founded in 2008 by Donna Deegan, a local newscaster and three-time breast cancer survivor, the 26.2 with DONNA Marathon Weekend includes a marathon, a half-marathon, a marathon relay, a 5K race, and even a 110-mile “ultramarathon.” The non-profit also organizes other racing and fundraising events throughout the year.
“Completing a marathon is an impressive physical and mental accomplishment,” says Ryan Lynn, Director of Marketing, GoneForaRun.com. “When you can conquer 26.2 with the additional purpose of raising money and awareness for an important cause, such as breast cancer research, that makes the accomplishment that much more gratifying and meaningful.”
The weekend event raised nearly $3.5 million for breast cancer research. The money will go to both the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and to Deegan’s other non-profit organization, The Donna Foundation. The Donna Foundation was founded in 2003 by Deegan, and is dedicated to providing support and resources to underprivileged breast cancer patients in northeastern Florida.
“To have these elite athletes that are busting records, and then to have the everyday athlete out there just trying to make a difference, it’s enormous,” Deegan said.
For his part, Barno, who averaged a pace of 5:05 per mile, was not only pleased with his record-breaking time, he was also humbled to contribute to the fight against breast cancer.
“It’s important, because I came from Kenya to support mothers and sisters with breast cancer,” he said.
One of Barno’s fellow Kenyans and training partners, Philip Lagat, expressed his gratitude for the thousands of fans and onlookers who gave their support during the race.
“There’s a lot of energy all the way when we are running around here,” Lagat said. “It feels so good. We love it.”
Lagat came in third place.
In the women’s category, Serkalem Abrha of Ethiopia finished in first place ahead of her fellow Ethiopians Hirut Guangul and Etaferahu Tarekegn with a robust time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 14 seconds. Abrha is a two-time winner of the Montreal Marathon.
Overall, approximately 10,000 athletes participated in the several events of the Marathon Weekend.
Deegan was more than pleased with the results and noted that many survivors and friends and relatives of survivors participated in the events. The turnout, she said, was heartwarming.
“It was very emotional this year,” Deegan said. “We have a lot of survivors on the course and a lot of people stopped me and said, ‘I’m out here running because we’re making so much progress.'”
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