But it didn’t matter, as the 37-year-old was still fast enough to nail down his third straight win in the race, covering the 26.2-mile distance in 2 hours, 40 minutes and 36 seconds.
Roulier was one of four overall champions crowned Sunday. First-time Lake Placid marathon competitor Arien O’Connell won the women’s overall title in 3:02.33, Kieran O’Connor won the men’s half-marathon race in 1:11:51 and a local racer, Peru’s Sara Facteau, successfully defended her half-marathon title, topping the women’s field with a 1:21:58 first-place time.
Competing in his 35th marathon overall and fourth this year, Roulier finished nearly 12 minutes ahead of his closest competitor to win for the third straight year. He was hoping to better his first-place time from two summers ago, but was still satisfied coming out on top.
“Winning is always fun, even though I didn’t beat my PR,” Roulier said. “Two years ago, I had a 2:36, last year it was 2:39 and I had a 2:40 today. The humidity made this race tough. I came here looking to beat my PR, but that’s OK. I still got the win.”
Roulier crossed the finish line well ahead of his next closest competitor, Tony Kharitonov, who placed runner-up in 2:52:04. Lake Placid’s Marc Galvin, a former Lake Placid Marathon champion, finished third in 2:52:52.
O’Connell first visited Lake Placid seven years ago, but she hadn’t inspected the marathon course until late last week. In preparation for the race, the 27-year-old from New York City paid attention to the hills she would have to take on during her run, and said she was ready come race day but still found the hills difficult.
“I was a little overwhelmed out there,” O’Connell said. “I came into this run ready for the hills, but they still surprised me. At mile 22 and 24, they were really hard.
“I wanted to win today, and I felt like I ran my smartest race ever,” O’Connell added. “I really paced myself. This was a great race. I love the loop aspect of the course, because you have people cheering for you all the way. I loved it and I’m already planning to come back.”
It was O’Connell’s 11th marathon. She also posted a victory on the West Coast, winning the San Francisco Marathon in 2008. Next up for the distance specialist will be November’s New York City Marathon, where she hopes to beat her personal-best time of 2:55 in that race.
This year’s Lake Placid Marathon featured about 500 runners who took on the full 26-2-mile distance, with the rest of the field, approximately 1,500, competing in the event’s 13.1-mile run.
Coming off a seventh-place finish in the Burlington Marathon two weeks ago, Facteau won by nearly a 6-minute margin to claim her second victory in a row in the half-marathon.
Like Roulier, Facteau was just looking for a personal-best effort while defending her championship. And like Roulier, the 34-year-old North Country runner didn’t get her best time but still came out on top. This time, Facteau was less than a minute slower than a year ago, but said she felt strong on the course.
“I just tried to get a better time than last year,” Facteau said. “My mindset was not to win, but just try to do the best I can and be as strong a runner as I can. Winning was just a bonus. I felt good out there today.”
Facteau, a familiar face in distance races across the North Country, next plans to compete in the Tupper Lake Tinman scheduled for June 25.
Second place in the women’s half marathon went to Julia Reichert of Kirkland, Que., who finished in 1:27:44. Lake Placid’s Elizabeth Izzo placed third in 1:33:43, and another local, Saranac Lake’s Sarah Keyes, finished fifth in 1:34:40.
Competing in the half-marathon every other year appears to be a working formula for O’Connor, a graduate student at New York University. The 24-year-old native of Scotia won the men’s overall title in 2007, 2009 and again Sunday. He was challenged for about the first five miles by Saranac Lake’s Josh LeBlanc, but pulled away to win by a margin of more than five minutes. O’Connor put down a winning effort of 1:11:51 for his third title.
“I felt kind of sluggish at the start, but a fast pace early seemed to shake me out of it,” O’Connor said. “I ran better than I was hoping to do. I knew if I ran hard early, I’d kind of have to do some work on my own the rest of the way. He (LeBlanc) pushed me early, and we had a fast pace going after mile four, and he backed off at that point.
“It just worked out that I’ve been here on the odd years,” O’Connor added. “I’m graduating in 2012, and I really don’t know what I’ll be doing after that, so I’m not sure if I’ll make it back next year. If I don’t, 2013 looks like a good bet. I’d love to keep the string alive.”
Brandon Cowles of Newark finished second overall for the men, crossing the line in 1:17:04, with Geneva’s Brian Dinan taking third in 1:17:25. Michael Schram of Tupper Lake finished fourth in 1:17:58. After running in front of the pack early, LeBlanc fought off nagging pain and finished sixth in 1:19:15.
“I’ve had foot pain since the cross country season,” said LeBlanc, a Saint Lawrence University runner. “It’s been 38 weeks, and basically all I can do is rest, but that’s tough to do. Five miles into this race, I didn’t know if I would be able to finish, but I had to. There were too many people cheering me on.”
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Marc Galvin of Lake Placid appears spry after crossing the finish line third overall in 2:52:52 at the seventh annual Lake Placid Marathon.