Derek Fey ended his marathon career on a high note, taking first place at the Omaha Marathon on Sunday.
“This is my last marathon,” Fey said after he broke through the winner's ribbon outside TD Ameritrade Park. “I just wanted to finish.”
Instead, the 34-year-old Omahan won in 2:35:53.
Stephen VanGampleare, the runner-up from Colorado Springs, Colo., finished about seven minutes behind.
Darcy Fuehrer of Tulsa, Okla., won the women's division in 3:01:42.
“Winning it was a major surprise,” she said, laughing. “All the really fast girls must have run the 10k or slept in.”
More than 4,000 people registered for the marathon, half-marathon and 10K races. Of those, roughly 1,000 ran the full marathon.
Fey led the entire race. Though injuries have plagued the distance runner on and off for years, he said he entered Sunday's race completely healthy.
“This is the best I've felt since I ran (the Boston Marathon) in 2009,” he said. There, he placed 77th.
Fey reached the halfway point in the Omaha race in less than 1 hour and 16 minutes, quicker than he had planned.
Shortly after mile 18, he said he intentionally slowed “just a hair” in order to finish the last six miles strong. He estimated the move added 20 to 30 seconds to his finishing time.
By mile 20, Fey said, he “had a feeling it was pretty much a done deal.”
Fuehrer hoped to finish in three hours. Though she missed the target by less than two minutes, she did beat her previous best time.
She ran an even pace through mile 20 but called the last six miles “painful.”
The 33-year-old ran cross country and long-distance track at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Fuehrer said she was excited to be back in Nebraska for the marathon. Placing first was a bonus, she added. It was her first marathon victory.
Theresa Gosnell of Omaha was second in the women's full marathon in 3:04:08.
Shane Smith of Omaha won the men's half marathon in 1:15:23. Christy Nielsen, also of Omaha, won the women's division in 1:22:05.
The marathon, half marathon and 10K races started and ended on Mike Fahey Street downtown. Entrants ran on the warning track inside TD Ameritrade Park — a new addition to the event — before finishing just outside the stadium.
“It went great,” said Race Director Mark Wilson of HITS Endurance. “We had fantastic weather and fast times.”
HITS Endurance, a national event production company, organized the Omaha Marathon for the first time after purchasing the race earlier this year for an undisclosed amount.
To see all finishing times for the Omaha Marathon, visit http://www.mtecresults.com/.