Horst, a Rome resident, had planned on shadowing the lead female runner in the early parts of the race at Centennial Olympic Park.
But she gave up on that plan because she said she couldn’t tell the marathon runners from the half-marathon entrants in the group of 16,000 (which included the 5k runners) running through the streets of Atlanta.
Instead, she barreled ahead, looking at her forearm where she had written in black ink, “Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose.”
The phrase was made famous by the football coach on the TV show, when she needed a push.
She finished the race, her third marathon in four weeks, in 2 hours, 58 minutes 24 seconds.
“I write that (phrase) on my arm every marathon,” Horst said.
“I had to say it a lot, a lot. Like the entire last half of the marathon. It helps a lot.”
Rome was also well represented in the half-marathon, with Justyna Mudy being the top female finisher with a time of 1:18:50.
Horst won last year’s race in 3:00:52. She edged second-place finisher Christine Rockey of Conway, S.C. by 12 minutes, 2 seconds on Sunday. The women’s marathon record is 2:41:22, set by Serkalem Abrha in 2009.
Horst said the course, which started and ended at Centennial Olympic Park, is one of the most difficult she runs because of the hills in the final few miles. The course has an elevation change of more than 3,000 feet. That difficulty was echoed by Malcolm Campbell, who won the men’s marathon in 2:26:11. He beat second-place finisher and fellow Marietta resident James Maunga by 4 minutes, 21 seconds. The men’s course record is 2:18:50, set by Oleg Marusin in 2008.
“It’s a hard course,” Campbell, 42, said. “It’s not an easy course, there are a lot of hills. I had good competition.”
The runners were helped by what most of them described as perfect conditions. The temperature at the start of the race was around 55 degrees and barely increased throughout most of the morning. Race organizers set up a misting station at the finish line that few finishers bothered to walk through. Instead, many runners were wrapping themselves in thermal blankets as they walked around the park looking for friends or loved ones. It was much different than the conditions at last year’s race, when temperatures reached 82 degrees. Medical director Dr. Lekshmi Vaidyanathan of Emory reported that there were no serious issues, crediting the weather and other safety measures taken by her team and race organizers.
Race director Jeff Graves was overjoyed with the weather and said there are no plans to change the course route.
“You are in Georgia, you are in Atlanta and there are hills,” he said. “Embrace it. We want to be different. Anything we can do to distinguish ourselves from other races we want to do.”
Atlanta’s Andrew Heath won the men’s half marathon (1:09:55). Heath has finished second in the marathon two times. He said he was using Sunday’s half marathon as a warm up for the Boston Marathon on April 15.
“I wanted to make sure I took it easy in the beginning, and try to push from there,” Heath said. “It worked really well.”
Charlotte’s Alejandro Arreola won the men’s 5K race (17:35) and Atlanta’s Euleen Josiah-Tanner won the women’s 5K (19:06).