Part of the thrill of being a part of the Special Olympics World Games is the chance to see the legends of our movement in action. At the half-marathon/10k race during the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Special Olympics running icons, including Loretta Claiborne and Karen Dickerson, Josphat Owino and Hormelys Pichardo, were there to compete.
All together, 15 Special Olympics athletes ran the 10,000M event and were followed by a crowd of Unity Sports fans who participated by running either a half marathon or a 10K. Claiborne, now a retired Special Olympics Athlete, serves on our board of directors and jumped into the Unity 10K run to show her support. All together, Claiborne has completed more than 25 marathons in her lifetime and holds a personal best time of 3:03, which translates to 6:58 miles, on average. She has also been one of the top 100 female finishers of the Boston Marathon, a feat only an elite few ever accomplish.
Karen Dickerson, a member of Team USA, was the first place finisher in the women’s F1 division, with a final time of 45 minutes and 40 seconds (roughly a 7:20 mile). Finishing in second place just three minutes behind was Costa Rica’s Grettel Hidalgo, who averaged a 7:30 mile.
Dickerson is also a veteran marathoner. At the age of 25, she already has 9 races under her belt had has the ultimate goal of completing a marathon in each of the 50 states in the US. In 2007, she finished in the top 10 percent of women in the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hours, 24 minutes.
Dickerson also took the gold in the women’s F1 division half-marathon, finishing in 1:42.29. Finishing just a second ahead of her was Zura Mushambokazi of Rwanda, the first female runner overall to cross the finish line.
In the men’s category, the M1 gold medal went to Josphat Owino of Kenya, who finished in 32 minutes and 34 seconds at an astonishing 5:14 mile pace. In close second was his teammate, who ran it in just over 34 minutes, averaging a 5:36 mile pace. The competition was equally tight in the men’s M2 division, in which Cuba’s Hormelys Pichardo finished first with a time of 32: 16, just seconds ahead of Owino. Both received a well deserved gold, however, due to their different division categories.
In the half marathon, Pichardo finished in a time of 1:12.17, averaging 5:30 miles throughout the race. Punshisana Mutum of India took the gold in the Men’s M1 division, finishing with a time of 1:31.36. Nigel Davis of Jamaica finished second overall with a time of 1:27.28, holding a pace of 6:40 per mile.