First-time competitor wins Heart of America Marathon

Monday, September 5, 2011 | 4:20 p.m. CDT; updated 11:34 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 8, 2011
Justin Gillette, 28, of Goshen, Ind., finishes first in the 52nd annual Heart of America Marathon on Monday. Gillette's final time was 2 hours, 38 minutes.

COLUMBIA — Justin Gillette, a 28-year-old from Goshen, Ind., was the overall winner of this year's Heart of America Marathon, a Labor Day tradition in Columbia.

He led from the start and finished in 2 hours, 36 minutes, 58 seconds. It was Gillette's first time competing in the Heart of America.


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Josh Grotzinger, 28, of Rocheport, was second, in 2:46:05. Thomas Dever, 54, of Terre Haute, Ind., rounded out the top-three in the men's division. He came in at 2:53:17.

Columbia resident Kyla Berendzen, 21, won the women's division in 3:10:24. She was running in the marathon for the second time.

Julie Bergfeld, 44, of St. Louis, was second in 3:15:25. Annie Laperle, 33, of Brossard, Quebec, was third in 3:24:42.

The race took place under almost ideal weather conditions. Temperatures which ranged between 65 and 70 degrees and a clear sky made the hilly course a bit more friendly to the 212 runners who finished the race.

Still, the winners agreed the course was difficult.

"I don't have a lot to compare it to, but those hills were certainly tough," Berendzen said after the race.

"It's a hell of a course," Gillette added.

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