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Nine days ago, she pleaded to join the Marine Corps Marathon; Sunday she came in first

Sarah Bishop of Fairfax, Virginia, wins the Women's division with a time of 2:45:06 during the 42nd running of the Marine Corps Marathon.

JONATHAN NEWTON/WASHINGTON POST PHOTO

By DILLON MULLAN | The Washington Post | Published: October 22, 2017

Sarah Bishop was not registered for the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon when she visited its website nine days ago. After finding a phone number, listening to menu options and pressing five for customer service, she waited on hold. When business manager Jim Jackson answered the phone, Bishop pleaded her case.

"I was desperate, but I was like, 'I'm going to do this.' I said, 'Hi, I got fourth in the Marine Corps Marathon last year, and I really, really want to register,' " Bishop said. "He said, 'OK, what's your email address?' I was so thrilled. I owe him a lot for letting me register last minute."

Sunday morning, Bishop paid Jackson back by finishing first among all female runners in 2 hours 45 minutes 6 seconds. Arlington, Virginia's Desta Beriso Morkama was the fastest male runner by more than two minutes with a time of 2:25:14.

Bishop was aiming to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials but missed that time by five seconds. Sunday, the 35-year-old Fairfax, Virginia, native wrote the splits she needed to keep pace with the qualifying time on her left hand in black marker. Then she did the same for her four kids.

"I had written on my hand where I needed to be at to qualify for the trials, and they all saw that and wanted to write on their own hands," Bishop said. "So I wrote numbers on their hands for them and they went around to their friends saying, 'This is for mommy's race.' "

Bishop has four children. Because of her late registration, her husband was not able to stay in town for the race, so her kids were home with a babysitter during the event. Even though they weren't physically there to offer in-person support, Bishop credits her young children for making her a better runner.

"Running is easy. Raising kids is what's hard. Going on my run, I can clear my head, that's my time. Otherwise, I haven't got a second to myself. I have a 7-, 5-, and 4-year-olds twins," said Bishop, who served in the Air Force for four years and now works full-time as a director of business development for a construction company. "I hear people say all the time that woman can't have it all, but I think that's a bad mentality. Why not? If men can go and train for marathons and work full time, why can't women? We need to change that narrative."

While Bishop says she knew she was going to win at the 11-mile mark, the men's race was much tighter. Arlington native Kieran O'Connor ran out into first place in the opening 200 meters. For the next 23 miles, the 30-year-old periodically looked over his shoulder for second place but could not see anyone.

Then as O'Connor looped around a public square in Crystal City, Virginia, he passed Morkama and the two locked eyes. About a mile later, around the 24.5-mile mark, Morkama took over first place and powered his way to victory.

"I had a little bit of optimism but shortly after we saw each other I almost passed out a little bit. Then I just went into survival mode and just wanted to finish," O'Connor said. "[Getting passed] is definitely deflating but I knew he was coming and he was looking strong, so the acceptance comes pretty quickly."

The win was extra special for Morkama after a second-place finish in last year's race.

"When I catch him, my feeling was, you know, I'm sorry, but I was excited to finish," Morkama said. "Last year I didn't work hard. This year I worked hard. I kept going in training that was very difficult. That's why I won."

Wesley Turner, 31, of Danville, Virginia, finished second in the men's race in 2:27:34 while O'Connor placed third in 2:28:06. Meghan Curran, 31, of Fort Carson, Colorado, was second in the women's event in 2:50:23, while Suzanne Hutchins of Gastonia, North Carolina, came in third in 2:53:35.
 

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