Crossing the line

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Cathy Cullen honestly didn't know if she was going to be able to get across the finish line.

But when she got close to the tape, Cullen made sure it was a picture-perfect moment.

"When I finished, I seriously thought I was going to die," said Cullen, a Winnipegger who was competing in her first full marathon. "I used to run middle distances and then half marathons, I used to think the idea of running a full marathon was crazy. I'm in a bit of disbelief right now. I needed a new challenge, I won the half marathon last year.

"I don't remember much of (the finish). I just knew I looked up and said 'I'm going to make it, no matter what.' I wanted to look decent hitting the tape because they always show pictures of people hitting the tape."

The Kodak moment was nice, but the victory celebration was delayed for Cullen, who collapsed shortly after earning top spot in the women's full marathon in 3:07:51.

Cullen saw her temperature rise and required medical attention, which included nearly an hour of intravenous treatment, before she resurfaced and was presented with her winnings.

After catching her breath, Cullen didn't hide her emotions when speaking to members of the media.

"It feels pretty amazing," said Cullen, who will marry her fiancee and fellow full marathon competitor Jayson Adams (who ran a personal best yesterday) on July 13. "I had people cheering for me everywhere I went. It was really nice."

After hitting the midway point of the run, Cullen was able to push herself to new heights.

"My plan was actually just to take it really easy and to have fun with it," she said. "I started out pretty slow and built into the run. I felt good at the halfway point and started to pick it up pretty good. I noticed I was close to the leaders and was quite surprised when I started going past the leaders and was still feeling pretty good.

"I just kept moving. It really started to hurt the last few miles and I really had to bare down and focus. I didn't enter the stadium the way I wanted to, but I managed to cross the line. It's the worst pain I ever felt and the best feeling also. In the back of my mind, I dreamed of what it would be like breaking the tape but I really didn't think it would happen today."

The scary thing is that her father Randy nearly prevented her from winning.

"As soon as I saw her come in (to University Stadium), I knew she was in trouble," said Randy. "First off, you are worried that she's going to get injured. The first instinct as a father is that you want to grab her and comfort her. I wanted to do that immediately, but I knew if I did she would be very angry with me (because she would have been disqualified).

"I just started running with her on the sidelines and just encouraged her all the way. I was afraid she might swear at me, she's done that one time before. She's always had the will and the courage to succeed. I was so glad I was here. It's such an emotional time."

Kelly Davey, a Winnipegger who is originally from Saskatoon, placed second and set a personal best with a time of 3:09:37.

"It was a perfect day. Perfect course, perfect weather, nice fans and great support along the way," said Davey. "My first goal is always just to finish and then to have a personal best. This was my 10th marathon and my best time by about three minutes"

Meredith Kennedy, a Winnipegger who is originally from Ancaster, Ont. (just outside of Hamilton) finished third.


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