Woman wins 25K race, gender competition 2 years straight

Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton crossing the finish line of the 25K Fifth Third River Bank Run on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Fifth Third River Bank Run’s battle of the genders ended with another victory in favor of the female runners.

Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton raised both hands to the sun-splashed sky as she crossed the 25K finish line. Her finish made her the official winner for the women’s race for the second year in a row, but she also earned $2,500 for beating all of her male competitors to the end.

“I was just hoping that I could win it again this year and you know, do it for the women,” said Tuliamuk-Bolton.

>>Finish line results for the Fifth Third River Bank Run

River Bank Run officials brought back the race within a race. It gives elite runners more incentive to push their limits.

The men’s group of top runners begins the 25K race 11 minutes and 30 seconds after the elite women start. That time is the average difference for finishing times between the two groups.

The men try to close that gap during the race and whoever finishes first wins an extra $2,500.

The money wasn’t Tuliamuk-Bolton’s only motivation, and she didn’t let last year’s win get to her head.

“Even last night when I went to bed I had a lot of peace because I told myself that the work has been done, all I need to do is go show it today,” she said.

>>Photos: Fifth Third River Bank Run 2017

Dathan Ritzenhein, the men’s 25K first finisher and Kent County native, gave her a run for her money.

Dathan Ritzenhein and Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton, the 25K winners of the 2017 Fifth Third River Bank Run. (May 13, 2017)

“It [the race] was good, but man I was hurting really bad the last two miles,” Ritzenhein said as he tried to catch his breath after finishing.

Returning from injury, Ritzenhein ran this race for the first time ever this year. He nearly snagged a new 25K record.

“I thought I was going to get the record, but I really died the last 800. The finish is so much longer away than I thought it was going to be,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

Tuliamuk-Bolton explained that she began the race wanting to make all of her training really count during her time in West Michigan.

“This is where my professional running started,” she said from the finish line. “It is where my first U.S. championship started, so this is like home for me.”