Natasha Cockram has seized the spotlight in American athletics after winning the Los Angeles Marathon – just five weeks after running the London Marathon.
The Micky Morris Racing Team athlete became just the third non-African athlete to win the race in its past 12 editions when she crossed the line in 2:33.16.
The Welsh marathon record holder finished 17th overall in London on October 3 and despite the short turnaround, she was persuaded by her manager and her shoe sponsor ASICS – also the event’s sponsor – to line up in LA.
The decision paid off in spectacular style on the route dubbed, “The Stadium of the Stars”, which starts at the famous Dodger Stadium and passes through Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Cockram was the leading lady from the 18-mile mark when she relegated front-runner Anthonia Kwambai, of Kenya, to a supporting role.
“I couldn’t wait any longer and just dropped the hammer,” she said afterwards.
“I wasn’t sure how my body was going to be feeling after London. About halfway, I felt sure and comfortable. I kind of wish I’d gone earlier.”
Cockram, no stranger to competing on the other side of the pond having competed for the University of Tulsa, stayed well clear of the field all the way to the uphill finish on the Avenue of the Stars in Century City.
Just under three minutes outside her personal best, Cockram said at the finish line: “It was a lot hillier than I thought it would be. I thought LA was flat!”
Nina Zarina, third in the women’s race, said: “It’s really hilly. The last mile is uphill and at the finish you get this crazy uphill.”
The winning time was outside the qualifying standard for next summer’s World Athletics Championships, which Cockram has been chasing.
However, the Gwent athlete does have the nomination standard the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, also next summer.
Behind Cockram, Kwambai finished second in 2:37.35 and Nina Zarina, of Russia, was third in 2:37.37.