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Med City Marathon: Celebrations galore for marathon winner

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Jia Xuan Huang runs in the Scheels Med City Marathon Sunday in Rochester. Huang won the women's portion of the race.
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Jia Xuan Huang and family, who now call Shenandoah, Iowa, home, returned to Rochester this weekend to do some celebrating.

The reason? Her son, Lucas, was born 10 years ago in Rochester.

"We thought it would be nice to come back here," she said. "I worked here for four years but haven’t been back since. I’m not sure how much Lucas remembers, if anything. We also have a daughter Le Yuan (15) who lived in Rochester."

In the middle of celebrating, Jia and her husband Qixin Sun ran Sunday’s Med City Marathon.

More celebrating: Jia won the women’s portion of the marathon, finishing in 3:25.18, some two minutes ahead of Caressa Barth of Winsted, Minn. (3:27.17).

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And even more celebrating: This was her third marathon in the past 40 days and Sunday’s time was her best, and a marathon personal record to boot.

"I was happy when I saw that," she said. "This has been quite a stretch."

On April 15, Huang finished the Boston Marathon in 3:26.38 and on May 5 completed the Lincoln Marathon (Neb.) in 3:25.37. At Lincoln, she was second among women.

Sunday, she was 26th overall.

"The two cyclists who were with me kept telling me that I had the female lead," she said. "They were really helpful and encouraging. And on top of that, both are from Iowa."

Huang, 37, moved to the United States from China in 2003. She has also spent time in Flushing, N.Y., before the move to Rochester and Shenandoah.

 "It was a beautiful course," she said. "The first part was downhill and there were a few hills coming in. But the wind came on pretty strong with about six miles to go.

"You could not have asked for a better day of running, though. It was really beautiful."

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Brigid Karelitz of St. Paul was third among women, finishing in 3:28.14.

Three marathons in 40 days?.

"Maybe this will be it for a while," Huang said. "My plan right now is to do another one, but probably not until fall."

• Last year the full marathon, relays and 20-mile run were canceled because of the extreme heat. Sunday it was 50 degrees at the start and in the mid-70s when all was said and done.

In other words, no weather problems this year.

"We had no major heat-related problems," said Jacob Sellon of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. "We use a wet-bulb device which basically calculates the heat index and it showed that the temperature at the start of the race last year at 7 a.m. was the same as at 11 o’clock today."

• There were 595 half marathon finishers, 244 who finished the marathon, 56 four-person relay teams and 48 20-milers.

This year’s course was changed this year, due to road construction in and around Rochester.

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The main change was the start, this year starting at the International Events Center. For the past several years, the race started in Byron and weaved and twisted back to Rochester.

The finish line was moved to Civic Center Dr., right next to the library.

"Everybody I talked to really liked the changes, and the finish line got positive reviews," said third-year race director Mark Bongers. "I hope we can keep it there, even when all the construction is finished.

"We had to deal with a lot of changes this year and overall I think everything ran along pretty smoothly.

 "And the weather was just about perfect. Along with everything else, this was a big question."

Ali Khalili, 29, of Rochester, won the half marathon in 1:16.40. Adam Prevost of Rochester was second (1:19.12) and Evan Richardson of Byron third in 1:12.32.

Jessica Rollie Rochester was the female half marathon, finishing in 1:30.50. That was good for 15th overall. Rollie is a past women’s Med City champion.

There were a total of 1,394 runners who completed five races on Saturday and Sunday.

Broken down it’s like this: marathon (244), half marathon (595), relay teams (56 or 224 runners), 20 mile (48) and 5K on Saturday (283).

Several-hundred youngsters also finished the Kids Marathon, also held on Saturday.

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