By Guy Gargan |

Atlantic City—Mengistu Nebsi prefers racing on the streets of New York City, but his first time running on the Boardwalk resulted in a victory by more than 2 minutes in the Atlantic City Marathon on Sunday morning.

Nebsi, 37, won the 57th edition of the race in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 17 seconds and was greeted with cheers from the crowd on the Boardwalk at the start/finish line at Michigan Avenue. He didn’t even appear winded after the 26.2-mile race and immediately walked through the crowd and posed for pictures with fans and supporters.

Nebsi is part of a group of Ethiopians who live and train in New York and made the trip to compete in the Atlantic City Marathon and Half-Marathon.

Another member of the Ethiopian group from New York was Hirut Guangul, who finished fourth overall and won the A.C. Marathon women’s championship by more than 6 minutes in 2:42.10. The 5-foot Guangul also didn’t appear tired after crossing the finish line.

Nebsi, who spoke little English, answered questions with help from training partner Teklu Deneke, who served as translator. Deneke, 36, earlier finished third in the half-marathon.

“It was a good race,” Nebsi said. “I’m happy, and I’m not really tired. It was tougher to run on the Boardwalk. I like Atlantic City, and the people are very nice. I was happy to take pictures with the people. I”ll come back next year.”

Guangul also answered questions with Deneke translating.

“I liked the cool air, but there was a little wind,” Guangl said. “I’m happy to win, and it was a good (clock) time. My best is a 2:34. It’s my first time in Atlantic City, and I like it. When the people cheered for me, I got power from that. I’ll try to come back next year.”

The marathon had 849 entrants, 827 of whom finished in the allotted time. The entrants consisted of 464 men and 385 women. The races began at 8 a.m., and the temperature at 9:30 a.m. was 45 degrees with winds that made it feel like 40. The wind was 10 mph from the north-northwest.

The event consisted of four races over two days and was officially called the AmeriHealth New Jersey Atlantic City Marathon & Half Marathon, 10K and 5K.

The marathon course started and finished on the Boardwalk. It wound through the streets of Atlantic City, including the Brigantine Connector Tunnel, and the other Absecon Island towns of Ventnor, Margate and Longport. The tunnel was closed to vehicular traffic for 21/2 hours during the marathon.

Aaron Holibaugh, 24, of Egg Harbor Township, was the first local finisher in the marathon. He was 14th overall in 3:04.47. Holibaugh also was fourth among 68 runners in the male 20-29 age group.

Tara Mousaw, 24, was the top local women’s finisher. She finished seventh among the women and was 27th overall in 3:12.04. In the female 20-29 age group, Mousaw was second among 95 runners.

Second overall in the marathon in 2:26.56 was Bryan Morseman, of Bath, New York. Morseman, 30, ran his fourth marathon in four weeks and had won the other three. The victories came in Columbus, Indiana, Corning, New York, and Albany, New York.

“I can’t feel bad about how I did since I ran three in a row,” said Morseman, a former Mansfield (Pennsylvania) University runner.

Jack Kamen, 32, of Matawan in Monmouth County, was third overall in 2:35.52.

The second woman to finish was Karen Lockyer, of Tyler, Texas, who was seventh overall in 2:48.36. The time was a personal best by about 3 minutes for Lockyer, who is originally from New Zealand.

“I’ve been trying to break 2:50 for a long time,” Lockyer, 37, said. “I love Atlantic City, and it’s so beautiful on the beach. Running on the Boardwalk was a lot of fun.”

Third for the women was Tezata Dengersa, 35, of Washington in 2:57.21. Dengersa finished second in the women’s division last year.

The Ethiopians from New York swept the top three men’s places in the Atlantic City Half-Marathon. The winner was Feisa Ayela Megersa, 27, in 1:05.58. He beat training partner Mekria Abebe Sihine by 1 second. Deneke was third in 1:06.57.

Meredith Unger, 40, of Wayne, Pennsylvania, won the half-marathon women’s race in 1:25.40. Tracy Mullen, of Whippany in Morris County, took second in 1:27.27. Tara Huang, 34, of Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was third in 1:28.45.

The top local finisher was Dave Favorito, of Galloway Township. Favorito, 28, finished sixth overall in 1:14.30. He was second among 98 runners in the male 20-29 age group.

Katie Byrnes, 25, of Mays Landing, was the first local woman to finish. She took 27th overall and was fifth among women in 1:32.21. Byrnes won the female 20-29 age group, beating 197 others.

Notes: The crowd at Michigan Avenue and the Boardwalk was entertained by Nikki Briar and the SweetBriar Band, a three-person country-rock group. … The half-marathon featured 1,272 entrants and 1,005 finishers — 398 men and 607 women.

Source: Press of Atlantic City
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