45-year-old repeats as Detroit marathon champ

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Detroit – Some things just keep getting sweeter with age.

At least that’s according to 45-year-old Christopher Chipsiya, who on Sunday morning in downtown Detroit finished the 42nd running of the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon with a time of 2:19 to repeat as marathon champion.

“The more I get old, maybe I get more experience,” Chipsiya said. “Coming for the fourth time, I know the course, I know the hills and everything.”

Christopher Chipsiya, the winner of the men's marathon, crosses the finish line.

The Kenyan-born runner, who in 2016 and 2017 finished second in the Detroit Marathon, shaved a full minute off his time from a year ago. He attributed the quicker time to Sunday’s temps in the high 40s and low 50s.

“The weather keeps changing,” Chipsiya said. “In 2016 it was humid and warm. In 2017 it was like the same. Last year, it was very cold, and today, the weather was perfect. Everything was perfect.”

Chipsiya earned $6,000 for winning the race and the masters division (40+). His near five-minute-per-mile pace down the stretch helped separate him from the competition.

“The first lap, I just stayed behind the guys,” Chipsiya said. “After five miles to go, then I start to say, ‘Let me push,’ to see where my body can reach.”

Chipsiya was unsure about whether he’d try his hand at a repeat after taking in first in last year’s race, but with a chance for a three-peat on the line, he said on Sunday that he’ll certainly be trying to get back to one of his favorite racecourses in 2020.

“I like this course so much, it’s a very nice course,” Chipsiya said. “We (won’t) know until next year.”

Joan Massah, the winner of the women's marathon, crosses the finish line.

Kenyan Joan Massah shattered the pace of women’s marathon winners in 2017 and 2018, knocking more than ten minutes off their times to finish with a time of 2 hours, 39 minutes to capture the women’s crown.

The 29-year-old, who trains in Minnesota, also said that she was given a boost by “the cold.”

“You come to run,” Massah said, “and you have to be ready for any challenge.”

The race was Massah’s eighth career victory and earned her a $4,000 purse. Despite the second- and third-place finishers closing some distance down the final few miles, she said that she never felt her victory was in doubt.

“I didn’t see that,” Massah said. “I just focus.”