Recreation

Tyler Culver, Jamie Zahasky win Run CRANDIC marathon titles

Culver earns first victory as wife expects the birth of first child

CEDAR RAPIDS — Tyler Culver anxiously awaits the day he can explain this accomplishment with his children.

He won’t have to wait long for the chance.

Culver and his wife, Kelsey, are expecting their first child in a little more than a week after his victory in the men’s marathon of the second annual Run CRANDIC race. Culver finished in a time of 2:50:07 for his first title. Jamie Zahasky, of Iowa City, won the women’s marathon in 3:11.07.

“It’s cool I’m going to be able to tell my kids one day that I was one of the first winners,” said Culver, a former Linn-Mar prep and University of Iowa student who is a financial analyst for Great America. “That is really special for me.”

Culver, 27, was greeted at the finish line by his wife, his parents, Todd and Tami, and sister, Lily. He said he had predicted that Kelsey would give birth on the same day as the race.

“It was pushing it, signing up for this one so close to the due date,” Culver said with a laugh. “I was able to get the run in, so we’re all clear now.”

Culver is a former cross country and track runner at Linn-Mar. He began training for marathons during his sophomore year in college. The CRANDIC was his ninth marathon, which includes prestigious races like the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and Chicago Marathon, as well as ones in the Twins Cities and Indianapolis.

Culver has looked forward to this event that began at Iowa City’s Lower City Park and ended in Czech Village.

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“I think it’s great we have one here,” said Culver, who was fourth a year ago. “I never thought I’d see the day, but I was really excited last year when they announced it.”

Culver and his wife turn race weekends into a couple’s getaway, exploring the cities after competition. He likes the fact people can experience his hometown sites. Culver also enjoys reversing the start and finish each year.

“I hope they continue the full marathon,” Culver said. “I think it’s a special thing to go between two major cities in Eastern Iowa.”

The course was challenging with hills at the onset and near the end of the course. Culver was six minutes off his personal record set at Indianapolis in November. He earned his first marathon title, coming in 2 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of runner-up Tad Holst, of Cedar Rapids.

“It was definitely a challenging course,” said Culver, adding, “I was very happy being able to come in first.”

Like Culver, Zahasky has traveled all over the country for races. She has run in the long-distance events from Boston to Las Vegas, including Chicago. She also posted her first victory, crossing the finish line in 3:11:07.

“It was great,” Zahasky said. “I’ve competed in a lot of marathons and this was my first win. It was fun to cross the line.”

Zahasky noted it was a benefit to be at home the night before competition. She missed this opportunity a year ago. Zahasky was registered for the inaugural event, but had a conflict with her son’s First Communion celebration.

She was excited to participate here, devoting a lot of time and effort for training.

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“It’s intense,” said Zahasky, noting she will plan to enter again next year. “It’s a commitment but it is fun.”

Erik Bandy, of Coralville, and Regan Weidner, a student from Platteville, Wis., were half-marathon winners. Bandy set a course record of 1:12:12 in the men’s division. Weidner was clocked at 1:24:25.

Weidner had no placement expectations and was only focused on beating 1:25:00.

“It was a very incredible experience,” Weidner said. “I guess the stars aligned and it was a good day.”

Interestingly, Weidner first heard of the event from her mother’s friend and ran the marathon last year. She ran the Chicago Marathon earlier this year and opted to test herself at the shorter distance.

She hopes to return next year, but will likely run the half-marathon again. Weidner is scheduled to get married in February and planning might cut into her preparation.

“I’m going to be busy,” Weidner said. “Full marathon training takes a lot of time, but I’ll probably do both in the future.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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