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Sunday, April 17, 2011
U.S. marathoners struggle in London

By Bonnie D. Ford

It was a tough day for American runners at the London Marathon.

Jason Lehmkuhle, who finished 13th, was the only U.S. man in the top 50. All running their first marathon, Stephan Shay, Mohamed Trafeh and Patrick Smyth stepped off the course for various reasons on a day when a new course record of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 40 seconds -- the fourth fastest marathon in history -- was set by Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai.

Lehmkuhle came in with high expectations only to log a 2:13:40, some 1:16 slower than his personal best.

"It wasn't awful, but it wasn't what I had in mind," said the Minnesota-based veteran who ran alone after Mile 11.

Trafeh ran with the lead pack, and Smyth lurked less than a minute behind until about halfway through the race when the brutal pace caused both of them to fade and eventually withdraw.

Shay dropped out at Mile 18, suffering from cramping and seasonal allergies.

"I tried to stay relaxed, and I initially stopped [running] thinking I could regain my composure and keep going," said Shay, the youngest brother of late distance runner Ryan Shay. "Then I realized, 'No way can I start up again.' It was a learning experience."

Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, the only U.S. woman in the elite field, fell well short of her goal to run a personal best, crossing the line in 23rd place in 2:31:22. A rapidly swelling blister on one toe and an upset stomach prompted her to stop at Mile 23. She considered ending her day there, but eventually swung back into stride.

"A disappointing race is better than a DNF -- emotionally, it takes less time to get over," said the 2008 Olympian.