Bandit runner wins marathon

FORT WORTH, TEXAS The 34th edition of the Cowtown Marathon featured the gathering of thousands of registered participants Sunday on the grounds of Will Rogers Memorial Center. And two men's marathon winners because of one who was not registered.

Initial runner-up Kolin Styles was declared the winner of the 26.2-mile race when Scott Downard was disqualified because he crossed the finish line with another person's number and failed to register for the race.

When the dust had cleared, Styles' time of 2 hours, 37 minutes, 53 seconds was the official winner, followed by Dave Thompson's 2:40:54.

"I'll take it," said Styles, 25, a graduate student at Tarleton State who was competing in his second marathon. "It was the time I wanted to be around and especially with a day like this with the wind and the hills."

Downard, a 25-year-old from Norman, Okla., crossed the finish line first more than 6 minutes faster than Styles at 2:31:40, said Heidi Swartz, the race's executive director. He acknowledged without any prompting that the bib he was wearing belonged to a friend who couldn't make the race. "He understood completely and said he'd come back next year," Swartz said.

The event featured somewhere in the neighborhood of 9,000 registered participants in the men's and women's divisions of the marathon, half-marathon and ultra marathon races. Beth Cooper, 23, won the women's marathon. The med student at the University of Oklahoma ran a personal-best time of 2:55:25 to claim her first victory. Karen Meraw, 26, a Detroit native, was second at 3:06:20.

The situation with the bib in the men's race was much, if not exactly, like the storyline in 2003, when Greg Floyd won the marathon after Augustine Hernandez was disqualified for the same offense. Hernandez had finished some 16 minutes faster. The circumstances in which he won the race in no way dampened the mood of Styles, who along with the masses battled stiff head winds and a hilly course during their run through the city.

"I felt really good through the half and just got stuck in no one's land the rest of the race," said Styles, 25, who resides in Weatherford but grew up in Holliday, near Wichita Falls. "I really couldn't get comfortable the rest of the way," he added, citing problems with tight hamstrings.

Styles, a cross country runner at Holliday High School and through college at East Central University in Oklahoma and Tarleton State, made his first attempt at 26.2 miles at the White Rock Lake Marathon in Dallas in December.

"I'm going to take some time off," he said. "I was training for White Rock and got immediately into this one."

He'll also be going to the New York Marathon. He had been planning for the trip, but now it will be paid for by virtue of his victory here.

Thompson, a 44-year-old from Dallas, set a Cowtown master's record for the new course (2:40:54). "My final 10K was a little slow," Thompson said. "But this is great for me; I'm an old man."

Credits - This true article, "Cowtown marathon's first finisher disqualified; runner-up wins" by John Henry, was published on the "Star-Telegram".

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