Two relative newcomers took the male and female overall victories at the Augusta Half Marathon on Sunday.
Thomas Johnson won the male category and overall run with a time of 1:15:21, which was three minutes and 24 seconds ahead of the next best male time. He ran a pace of 5:45 per mile, the only pace per mile below six minutes.
A total of 1,036 runners finished the 13.1-mile course.
The 22-year-old Johnson, a student at Georgia Health Sciences University, hadn’t run a half marathon since high school. It was his first win. He attributed the elevation changes early in the course as the key to finishing strong.
“Getting the hills out of the way in the first half was good,” he said. “But I really like the course, especially going around Lake Olmstead. It was fun.”
The top time in the female category also came from a first-time winner, and it was also her first time running in a half marathon.
Bridget Lyons, a former Greenbrier track star, finished with a time of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 34 seconds which was 9 minutes, 4 seconds ahead of the next best female time. She finished second overall.
The 24-year-old Lyons attended the University of Georgia and ran the 5K and 10K on the Bulldogs track team. However, Sunday’s race was her first marathon event of any kind.
“It’s nice being at home,” she said. “The crowd was really good. There was a good crowd at every mile marker. It
“I definitely run enough to do this, so we’ll just keep on trying to do more. I definitely want to do more.”
Brad Slavens finished second in the male category and third overall with a time of 1:18:45. Havird Usry, of Augusta, finished third in the male category at 1:19:55.
Kenzie Riddle finished second in the female category at 1:27:30, while Caitlin Rushlander finished third at 1:31:23.
The course, a 13.1-mile track, began and ended at Enterprise Mill while sending the runners to various points throughout Augusta. It featured the steepest elevation changes in the early stages of the run, such as through Summerville past Augusta State University and past Augusta National Golf Club.
The course flattened around Lake Olmstead and through Harrisburg before wrapping around downtown on Broad and Greene streets. The major course change from the previous event was the start and finish line at Enterprise Mill instead of Augusta Common.
“People are saying it was a good course,” said Brinsley Thigpen, CEO of the Augusta Sports Council. “It really highlighted a lot of Augusta in general.”
Thigpen said participation was also a strong point, as the event saw a 30 percent increase in runners from the previous run despite a 16-month hiatus.