The conditions werent what anybody was hoping for Saturday morning at the Myrtle Beach Dasani Half Marathon, but a couple of Boston Marathon hopefuls nonetheless came away very encouraged from the experience.
Phil Shaw, a 29-year-old from Manchester, N.H., won the half marathon in a time of 1 hour, 11 minutes and 29 seconds, and Kimberlie Meeker, a 33-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., was the top womens finisher in 1:19:41.
Times were down overall from last year, but that was to be expected with the relentless wind. One gust blew over the finish line setup for the full marathon, forcing organizers to reassemble it before the first finishers of the big race crossed the line.
Meanwhile, both Shaw and Meeker said they were using the half marathon Saturday as training for the famed Boston Marathon in April and first place is a good start.
I know the winning times here have been pretty quick. I know we werent quite as quick as last year. ... [so] its a nice surprise, Shaw said.
It was Shaws first time running the Myrtle Beach course, and he bested the field by more than a minute and a half as 2013 winner Jay Upchurch, 35, took second place in 1:13:01 and 30-year-old Daniel Matena was third in 1:13:55. Shaw also got more good news later in the day when his wife Christine Shaw won the womens marathon.
As for Meeker, she had plenty of motivation Saturday after placing second in the womens half marathon here a year ago.
I was hoping to be first this year, but I was also hoping for a PR. But I think I was almost a minute slower than last year. It was so windy, she said. Still, I love this course. You cant beat it. You cant find a flatter course anywhere.
While Shaw got to celebrate later with his wife, Meeker was quickly joined at the finish line by three of her training partners from Raleigh as they swept the top four spots in the womens half marathon. Erin Dillon, 29, was second in 1:22:35; Elaine Lawrie, 36, took third in 1:23:57; and Laura Berry, 27, finished fourth in 1:24:44.
It was a tough race, Dillon said despite the groups impressive finish. The wind was ridiculous. I basically felt like I was walking [at one point].
Said Meeker: It was knocking over signs that had sandbags on them. I mean, it was pretty strong.
Although it wasnt the typical Myrtle Beach weather Shaw had signed up for, the outcome made it feel a little better. And after all, it could be worse, he said, as he knows there will be snow waiting for him back home.
We spent a long time getting down here from New Hampshire, so this makes it worthwhile to come out here and get a victory, he said.
A former runner at Boston University, Shaw and his wife have recently gotten back into competitive running. This was his third ever half marathon and first win.
Even though he took the lead halfway through the race, though, he wasnt ready to make any assumptions.
I knew I was in the lead, but Im always scared theres someone coming up behind me so I was never too secure, he said. But I had a good feeling.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or follow him on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.