Kenyan and Ethiopian swept the winner’s circle at the 2023 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon

 On Sunday, runners from African nations swept the winner’s circle at the 2023 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon.

Kenya’s George Onyancha raced to a personal best time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 35 seconds to win the men’s division and Ethiopia’s Damaris Areba sped to the women’s division win with a time of 2:36:51.

Onyancha won the Miami Marathon in January with a 2:18, and while he said Austin’s course had more hills than Miami, it was much more humid on the South Florida coast.

“The humidity there slowed me down,” he said. “And the second-place guy here was pushing me. It was challenging.”

American Joey Whelan was on Onyancha’s heels for most of the race and finished eight seconds behind him. Whelan, a former high school All-American cross country runner and Syracuse graduate, said every time he’d press Onyancha, the Kenyan would surge and maintain his lead.

“George went out with the half marathon runners, so he built about a minute lead over me and I thought maybe he’d come back later,” Whelan said. “I kept going up to him, and every time he did, he surged. He was just so strong. Every time I went up to him, he wasn’t out of breath.”

Whelan is a two-time winner of the Austin Marathon in 2018 and 2019.

He finished the marathon with a silver medal, but Whelan put a diamond on his girlfriend’s hand after the race. While there was a break in finishers, Whelan got on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend Monica at the finish line on Ninth and Congress. She said yes.

Areba’s winning time was 7:30 faster than the runner-up, Sarah Jackson of Austin. Jackson won the event in 2020.

Areba won the 2022 Des Moines Marathon, finishing that race in 2:32:33, five seconds off the event record.

Both winners grabbed $3,000 out of a $20,000 purse for the elite runners.

According to event organizers, around 18,000 people signed up for the marathon, half marathon and KXAN SimpleHealth 5K.

2023 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon, Half Marathon winners

Men’s Marathon, top five

George Onyancha, 2:16:35

Joey Whelan, 2:16:43

Carlos Jamieson, 2:27:28

Spencer Mousain, 2:28:17

Ryan Wojdyla, 2:34:36

posted Monday February 20th
by Billy Gates