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Rochelle Yang has fun winning first Run CRANDIC marathon

Iowa City native just wanted a relaxing race

Rochelle Yang of Iowa City is the first woman to cross the finish line of the marathon during the 1st Annual RUN CRANDIC on Sunday, April 30, 2018. Yang's time was 3:09:55. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Rochelle Yang of Iowa City is the first woman to cross the finish line of the marathon during the 1st Annual RUN CRANDIC on Sunday, April 30, 2018. Yang's time was 3:09:55. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Rochelle Yang’s idea of a "fun run" is quite different from most.

The Iowa City native entered the inaugural Run CRANDIC Marathon — two weeks after completing her second Boston Marathon — to tackle a relaxing 26.2-mile run.

Relaxing was her word.

“I hadn’t really meant to push myself because this was supposed to be more of a fun run after Boston,” she said Sunday morning after winning the women’s race from Cedar Rapids’ NewBo Market to Iowa City’s Kinnick Stadium in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 55 seconds. “I never thought I’d win it ... there’s a lot of talented women in this area, so I never thought I’d have a chance.”

Brett Rosauer of Iowa City was the overall winner, crossing the finish line at the heel of the Nile Kinnick statue in 2:38:09. He, too, ran in Boston two weeks ago, finishing as the top Eastern Iowan in 2:36:30.

“This is one of the few times I’ll be able to run the race, so I figured why not,” the Urbandale native said, noting he’ll graduate from medical school soon. “My legs were obviously not as fresh as they could be, but I felt pretty good out there.”

Not many call a marathon fun, but the 24-year-old Yang — a former Iowa City West student (not athlete) — loves the distance.

“I didn’t do any kind of cross-country or track” in high school, she said. “I was not athletic at all. I didn’t know I’d enjoy running.

“I didn’t pick it up until I was in college.”

She set a goal of running the Boston Marathon before she graduated from Pharmacy School. She’ll graduate in less than a week and this was her seventh marathon.

“I love marathons,” she said. “They are my favorite distance.”

This race had special meaning. She starts her residency in June in San Diego.

“This is kind of my last hurrah in Iowa City,” she said.

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While Rosauer was a bit slower Sunday than his time in Boston, Yang was nearly eight minutes faster. And this was her personal best.

All her Boston Marathon training paid off on Sunday.

“I’m just amazed that I had so much left in the tank,” she said.

Rosauer, 27, also had enough to pull away from runner-up Ean Caskey of Lisbon over the final four miles. After starting a bit behind Caskey and third-place finisher Nathan Hopp of West Amana, Rosauer pulled even just before the halfway point. He and Caskey went “back and forth” from “about 12 miles through 22.

“I was fortunate enough to have a little left in the legs,” he said.

Caskey, a former English Valleys prep who ran collegiately at Cornell College, said he started cramping up around 22 miles.

“It kind of restricted my stride from that point on,” he said.

Not only was Rosauer coming off a run in Boston, he also has been battling a cold.

“Today I wasn’t coughing anything up,” he said with a laugh.

Both winners gave the first Run CRANDIC high marks — from directions on the course, to the fans along it and the route itself.

“It would have been nice if the wind was out of the north and not the south,” Rosauer said.

The rolling hills also were a challenge.

“It was a lot hillier than I expected,” Yang said.

“Not a ton of flat stretches,” Rosaur said. “No crazy, killer hills until Hawkins right at the end, like mile 25-26.”

John Gretter, 44, of Iowa City said his 16th marathon was challenging.

“The duration of the hills is what caught your attention,” he said after finishing in 3:26:11.

But it won’t stop him from doing it again next year, when the course starts in Iowa City and finishes in Cedar Rapids.

“I want to go down the hills,” he said with a laugh.

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The half-marathon winners were Trai Bunch (1:16:03) and Danielle Hodge (1:24:11) of Iowa City. Jordan Winke of Albia (19:36) and Julie Johnston of Cedar Rapids (21:47) won the 5K races.

There were 2,687 finishers, including 740 in the marathon.

Click here for the marathon results.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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