Unlikely Runner Takes USATF Marathon Championship | NBC Chicago
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Unlikely Runner Takes USATF Marathon Championship

Blake Russell, 29, finished the L.A. Marathon in 2:34:57

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    Blake Russell crosses the finish line to place third in the U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials on April 20, 2008, in Boston, Mass.

    An unlikely U.S. winner snatched the women's title in the U.S. Track and Field Marathon Championship in Los Angeles Sunday.

    Blake Russell did not beat out Kenya's Ogla Kimaiyo for the No. 1 spot in the marathon, but she did capture the USATF title. She surged ahead of Japanese runner Mao Kuroda in the last four miles and finished in a speedy 2:34:57.

    While Russell is a former Olympian, she was not likely a top pick to take the USATF title. Russell is 39 years old and a wife and mother of two. She competed in the 2008 Games and was an alternate in the 2004 Games, but Russell couldn't get a sponsor for the L.A. Marathon.

    "Since 2009, when I had my first child, I've been sponsored by Team Russell," the former Olympian told Sarah Barker in Deadspin. "It was kind of funny, and kind of frustrating -- I thought, I'm an Olympian and I can't even get shoes from anybody."

    Russell is also older than many of the other competitors. Of the top 12 finishers of the L.A. race, all of them except Russell was between the ages of 24 and 35, according to Deadspin.

    The mother of two was not phased by her victory either. Deadspin reports she woke up at 3 a.m. for the race, finished it as a champion and then went home to play with her children, walk the dog and talk to reporters.

    It's unclear whether Russell will be able to up her performance even more in future races, but if the L.A. Marathon is any indication, her career is far from over. Her marathon PR is 2:29:10, which was set in 2005 when she was only 29.

    Russell didn't come close to breaking her own record, but in the heat of the L.A. sun with competitors much younger than her, she came out strong and proved she's still in the game.

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