Minneapolis resident cruises to easy win at Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

Runners compete in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon Sunday.
Runners compete in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon Sunday. Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

A Minnesotan and a mother of three are the male and female winners of the second Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon on Sunday.

Ben Schneider of Minneapolis was the first to cross the finish line to win the men’s marathon in under two and a half hours with a time of 2:28:43. The half marathon started at Jones Park in Gulfport, full marathon started in Pass Christian.

Schneider, 34, sprinted into MGM Park to a rousing ovation in the midst of runners finishing the half marathon.

“Real fast course; it was great this morning,” said Schneider. “Little bit of a headwind for most of the way. It was a bit chilly to start, but once you got going it felt fine. It was good weather for marathoning. I understood it to be a very flat course, so I knew I needed to get going from the start, just try and get a good fast pace and then just try to hold on for the second half.”

Schneider took off from running for eight months, allowing an achilles injury to heal. The injury bothered him for three years and started running again four months ago.

“I saw this one on the calendar and thought that I could get a marathon in before the end of the year,” said Schneider.

Kate Rountree, 35, of Lafayette, La. finished first in the women’s division with a time of 3:10:01.

“The first half went by really quickly, and the scenery is just beautiful,” said Rountree. “But then the wind kicked up in the second half, so it was a little more difficult. Overall it was a great race. The course couldn’t have been better. The best weather you could imagine for a race. I like running in cold weather. That was ideal. We had a little bit of wind, but it really wasn’t that bad, and you didn’t have to worry about rain. Cold, sunny, couldn’t be better.”

Rountree tries to run a marathon each year. She has run in six marathons, beginning in 2010. The mother of three children, ages 4, 9 and 11, prepares for marathons by doing early morning running. She improved her personal record by two minutes Sunday

“This feels great,” said Rountree. “That’s something I’m really proud of. That makes me really happy.”

Meghan Lawson, 31, of New Orleans finished second in the women’s marathon with a time of 3:12:17. John Hitter, 39, of Lafayette finished second in the men’s marathon with a time of 2:41:14.

Michael Marineaux of Lafayette won the men’s half marathon with a time of 1:16:42. Derek Bovard of Alpharetta, Ga. finished second with a time of 1:19:44. Bovard also won the 5K on Saturday.

Leah Watters, 35, of Pass Christian won the women’s half marathon with a time of 1:25:48. Melanie Doescher, 30, of Mandeville finished second with a time of 1:29:47.

Candice Schneider of Minneapolis and wife of marathon winner, finished third in the half marathon.

Forty-seven states were represented in the second Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. Race co-founder Patrick Fellows was pleased with the turnout.

“Great weather. Perfect running weather,” said Fellows. “Runners want it cold. If we had a brutal east wind, it could be a long day, but the weather was perfect. No snafus on the course. Everything was smooth.”

Five hundred forty-five runners participated in the marathon. The half marathon had 1,779 runners compete.