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Updated Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Uli Steidl wins his ninth Seattle Marathon

By Pete Treperinas
Special to The Seattle Times

Uli Steidl decided Saturday he was running in the Seattle Marathon. Sunday, he won it.

In 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 26 seconds, the 40-year-old Steidl won his ninth Seattle Marathon. It was the first time he's run it since 2006. But Steidl wasn't even sure he was going to run until this weekend.

"I thought about it for a while," he said. "But I didn't actually sign up until yesterday."

Steidl ran the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 7, winning the Masters division, and said he took a bit of a break between that race and the Seattle Marathon. He still had enough to edge 26-year-old Evan Blanshan, who finished in 2:30:18.

Kristen Carter, 25, was the women's winner, finishing in 2:47:06. Her inspiration for running Sunday came from her former running coach at Bellingham High School, Bill McClement. Thirty years ago, he won the Seattle Marathon.

For the men, it seemed to be a three-man race early on, with Steidl, Blanshan, and Jesse Williams — the 2011 Seattle Marathon winner — hanging close to each other for the first 15 miles. Steidl even briefly chatted with Williams, he said.

But shortly after that, Steidl established his lead. Blanshan also passed Williams, who ultimately finished outside of the top 10 runners.

Steidl prepared himself for the last third of the course, which is known for its hills, specifically on Galer and Madison streets. It's unrealistic to keep the same pace as the first two-thirds of the course, he said.

"You just have to know it's coming," Steidl said of the hilly last third. "The Galer and Madison Street (hill), people are pretty afraid of it."

Last year, Steidl's wife Trisha was the women's top finisher. She was unable to run Sunday because of a heel bruise sustained in the summer. Despite running with Uli since the injury, Trisha wasn't able to make a last-second decision to run like her husband.

"She wanted to run," Steidl said. "Her longest run (since the injury) was a 15-miler. There's no way to be somewhat competitive in a marathon without proper training, so she decided not to go."

Carter, who ran cross-country at Ohio State, just started running marathons this year. Sunday was her fourth. Earlier this year, she won the Whidbey Island Marathon and also qualified for the Olympic Trials in Houston.

Her competition in the women's race took an unexpected turn when the New York Marathon was canceled earlier this month.

Susan Empey and Lauren Matthews — also Olympic Trial qualifiers — signed up for the Seattle Marathon because they were unable to run in New York.

"All of a sudden, I had a lot more competition," Carter said. "So I was a little nervous at the start because I knew they'd be tough."

And they were for the first 13 miles.

After that, Carter separated from Empey and Matthews and was running alone.

"I just had a feeling that if I was going to win, I had to pull away early," she said. "I didn't want it to come down to a sprint at the end, so at 13, I started opening up the gap and never saw them again."

Empey, 44, came in second (2:49:58) and Matthews, 32, was third (2:51:47).

Running marathons is a learning process, according to Carter.

In her first marathon, she lost a shoe, missed most of the water stops, and got such bad cramps that she had to walk part of the 22nd mile.

With each race, Carter is picking up on more of the intricacies and limiting her mistakes.

"I'm definitely still figuring all this out," she said. "I think the best thing today was I fueled really well, I hit all the water stops ... I think that helped me have a good time today."

Jonathan Lafler, 22, of Washington State, won the men's half-marathon, finishing in 1:08:31.

Rachel Jaten, 37, was the top woman in the half-marathon race in 1:21:18.


BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Runners warm up around Memorial Stadium in the fog at sunrise before the start of the Seattle Marathon.




BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Uli Steidl of Seattle lets everyone know he's won nine Seattle Marathon titles after he crosses the finish line Sunday in 2:28.26.




BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
After pushing away from the rest of the field at the 13-mile mark, Kristen Carter, 25, of Bellingham took the women's title Sunday in 2:47.06.




BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Runners walk to the start of the Seattle Marathon under a foggy Space Needle.




BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Runners take off for the start of the Seattle Marathon.




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