By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The 2012 Mother Road Marathon was Andrew Webb’s first 26.1 mile race. But you can rest assured it won’t be his last.
Webb, a 22-year-old Missouri Southern State University student, finished his first marathon Sunday in 2 hours, 46 minutes, 4 seconds for first place in the third annual Mother Road Marathon that followed historic Route 66 from Commerce, Okla., to Joplin. And not only did he win, Webb set the event record. The previous best was 2:51:57 by Ryan Kramer, of Des Moines, Iowa, in 2010.
Oddly, it was baseball that inspired Webb to give a marathon a try.
“It starts in Mickey Mantle’s hometown,” Webb said. “He’s an inspiration to me, so I wanted to run in it and finish up here in Joplin.”
Webb, who had competed on the Missouri Southern cross country team until March, had never competed in a race longer than 10 kilometers before Sunday. However, it seems he excels at the longer distances.
“I quit running for Missouri Southern,” Webb said. “There was about a three month period where I wasn’t running at all. My mom called me and said the Joplin Road Runners were having a meeting, so I attended it in June. They gave me this workout schedule. I did everything on it, and obviously it worked out.
“The mileage wasn’t too intense. I think it was a total of only 600 miles in well under four months. It was enough, and I incorporated a lot of speed into it. I ran every run about as fast as I could.”
Webb finished more than two minutes ahead of second-place finisher George Bene, 43, of Joplin, who completed the race in 2 hours, 48 minutes, 16 seconds.
Now, Webb said he has set his sights on the Dallas Marathon in December. He hopes to run better than 3 hours, 5 minutes to qualify for April’s Boston Marathon.
“Hopefully, I can qualify,” he said.
Krystal Schwartz, 24, the top female finisher in the marathon, also didn’t have a lot of training time.
Actually, she didn’t know she was going to run in the marathon until Thursday. Schwartz, who had been stationed in Fort Bragg, just moved to the area as she reports to Fort Leonard Wood today.
“I’ve ran races in Illinois, Wisconsin — basically everywhere I’ve been. So I was like I need to run a race in Missouri. I saw this one in three states and a marathon and thought that was pretty sweet. So I thought, ‘let’s do it.’”
Schwartz had run in a marathon two years ago in Wisconsin, but she hadn’t been training for that many miles. The lack of prep time didn’t stop Schwartz from completing the lengthy distance in 3 hours, 28 minutes, 19 minutes.
“I set a slow pace,” she said. “I set it at 8-minute miles. For me, that’s extremely slow. It was hard to keep it. So I set a slow pace and at the half marathon mark, I stepped it up.”
Kenneth Schramm, 48, of Joplin, won the men’s half marathon in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 58 seconds. Jenna Mutz, 31, of Joplin, was the women’s half marathon winner in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 15 seconds.
Tyler Schultz, 18, of Baxter Springs, Kan., won the men’s 5-kilometer race in 18 minutes, 41 seconds, while Cortney Mayberry, 26, of Joplin, had the top women’s time in 24 minutes, 10 seconds.
About 700 people competed in the three events combined. The cities of Miami, Okla., Commerce, Okla., Quapaw, Okla., Baxter Springs, Kan., Riverton, Kan., Galena, Kan., and Joplin all participate to make the Mother Road Marathon possible.