Recreation

Kenya natives Pasca Myers, Philip Mburu win 8K at Fifth Season Races

Myers runs with heavy heart, Mburu secures long-sought victory

CEDAR RAPIDS — At its core, running is already a solitary enough pursuit.

Competitors match their endurance against the elements for a distance that can extend to a grueling limit. Oftentimes, a familiar face at the finish line is an essential motivator.

For Pasca Myers, that face was her husband, Denny Myers, the Iowa Central track and field coach who passed away unexpectedly on June 16.

“It gives me hope that I know that he’s around watching me,” Myers said after finishing first overall among females in the Health Solutions 8K Race during the Fifth Season Races on Wednesday in downtown Cedar Rapids. “He was my coach, too. So this was my first time being in a race without him. … His spirit is around me.”

Pasca Myers, 31, won in time of 28:32. It was her second victory in the event. In 2013, she won in 27:07 under her maiden name Pasca Cheruixot. Later that year, she married Denny Myers, a longtime collegiate track and field coach whose career spanned five decades.

The cause of death is unknown.

“I’m still waiting for results, autopsy results,” Myers said. “I don’t believe it myself yet.”

Pasca Myers emigrated in 2007 from her native Kenya to Illinois for college. After earning an associate’s degree, Myers competed at Missouri State for a year and Florida State for three. She recently completed nursing school and became a U.S. citizen last September.

“I’m a proud American now,” Myers said.

Misiker Demissie, 31, an Ethiopia-born U.S. citizen who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials two years ago, was second among females in 29:27.

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Flannery Cerbin-Bohach of Decorah was the fastest Iowa woman (third in 29:57). Gabby Skopec, an Iowa City West graduate who just completed her first year with the UNI women’s cross country team, was fifth among females in 31.42.

The third event appearance was a breakthrough for overall winner and Kenya native Philip Mburu, 29, who outpaced all 8K runners with a time of 24:28. After finishing third in 2015 and fourth last year, Mburu was eight seconds faster than Brogan Austin of West Des Moines.

“Hang on as much as possible,” Mburu said. “At the turnaround point, put down the hammer.”

The first trip to the U.S. for Mburu was in 2012, but the 15-hour flight from Kenya resulted in a puzzling back injury that still requires attention. Doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi assisted Mburu with his rehabilitation.

“That problem has been bothering me for a long time until last year,” said Mburu, who trains in Minneapolis. “I still feel it, but not as much as the last six years.”

The victory earned Mburu a cash prize of $599, but something even more valuable was obtaining a victory that eluded him through so many travails with his hampered back. Mburu will take his new-found confidence to the 10k race at the Midnight Madness Road Races in Ames on July 14.

“I’m thrilled, I’m happy, I’m motivated,” Mburu said. “Now that I know that I’m doing the right thing and the right training that I need. I’m feeling good.”

Fellow Kenya native Elisha Kipruto of New Brighton, Minn., was third in 25:15.

Adam Bohach of Decorah was fifth overall in 26:21, while Lisbon’s Ean Caskey finished sixth (26:48). Adam Wood and Joseph Skurski, both of Iowa City, Nathan Hopp of West Amana and Cedar Rapids’ Daniel Pape rounded out the top 10.

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Men's 5K

Overall — Tysen Vandraska (Swisher), 17:05; 14 & under — Gavin Hall (Cedar Rapids), 18:37: 15-19 — Maxwell Laue (Cedar Rapids), 17:28; 20-24 — Tysen Vandraska (Swisher), 17:05; 25-29 — Hunter Hills (Solon), 19:38: 30-34 — Jared Tee (Marion) ,23:07; 35-39 — Mike Biderman (Iowa City), 18:16: 40-44 — Wes Hilleshiem (Marion), 18:47; 45-49 — Daniel Felderman (Iowa City), 22:02; 50-54 — Rich Phillips (Hanover Park, IL), 22:01; 55-59 — Jamie Brown (Dubuque), 19:34; 60-64 — Doug Lord (Lisbon), 27:26; 65-69 — Keith Krewer (Cedar Rapids), 32:11; 70 & over — Ken Jans (Ely), 27:28.

Women's 5K

Overall — Suzanne Halekas (Iowa City), 20:56; 14 & under — Lily Haars (Marion), 23.34; 15-19 — Kiersten Conway (Solon), 21:18; 20-24 — Hannah Chute (Marion), 21:42; 25-29 — Annie Hills (Cedar Rapids), 22:40; 30-34 — Amy Freeman (Cedar Rapids), 22:19; 35-39 — Suzanne Halekas (Iowa City), 20:56; 40-44 — Wilmara Salgado-Pabon (Iowa City), 21:57; 45-49 — Anne Tallett (Cedar Rapids), 26:07; 50-54 — Shelley Vandraska (Swisher), 26:08; 55-59 — Diane Hagarty (Cedar Rapids), 27:03; 60-64 — Linnea Martin (Marion), 33:50; 65-69 — Sue Olson (Cedar Rapids), 34:16; 70 & over — Joyce Fleischacker (Cedar Rapids), 34:24.

Men's 8K

Overall — Phillp Mburu (Minneapolis, MN), 24:38; Wheel Chair — Robert Molsberry (Iowa City), 35:01; Masters — Marty Klipp (Cedar Rapids), 30:11; Grand Masters — Jeffrey Nietert (Toddville), 31:54; 14 & under — Austin Miller (Fort Madison), 35:54; 15-19 — Matt Lorenz (Swisher), 29:04; 20-24 — Daniel Pape (Cedar Rapids), 27:26; 25-29 — Joseph Skurski (Iowa City), 27:18; 30-34 — Aaron Skopec (Burlington) 29:15; 35-39 — Nathan Hopp (West Amana), 27:21; 40-44 — Jonathan Menzner (Swisher), 33:10; 45-49 — Kent Miskimen (Fairfax), 30:59; 50-54 — Richard Griffiths (Columbia, MD), 33:39; 55-59 — Randall Brecht (Middle Amana), 34:16; 60-64 — Ron Gierut (Cedar Rapids), 34:55; 65-69 — Bob Strickland (Cedar Rapids), 41:25; 70 & over — Jim Shimek (Fairfax), 37:37.

Women's 8K

Overall — Pasca Myers (Fort Dodge), 28:32; Masters — Aimee Jones (Cedar Rapids), 35:39; Grand Masters — Andriette Wickstrom (Storm Lake), 36:57; 14 & under — Alexis Nims (Robins), 25:12; 15-19 — Raegan Gorman (Springville), 34:36; 20-24 — Katie Hoffert (Cedar Rapids), 33:46; 25-29 — Becky Nielsen (Marion), 38:40; 30-34 — Elaina Bieckler (Dubuque), 34:39; 35-39 — Alice Anderson (Marion), 32:16; 40-44 — Keri Christensen (Anamosa), 41:06; 45-49 — Rae Lynn Lamparek (Swisher), 41:46; 50-54 — Amy Homan (Cedar Rapids), 41:59; 55-59 — Karen Harbaugh (Manchester), 38:46; 60-64 — Lynn Harman (Cedar Rapids), 45:00; 65-69 — Ellen Rickert (Lafayette, CO), 46:53; 70 & over — Mary Campbell (Cedar Rapids), 51:07.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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