CEDAR RAPIDS — Another year, another win for Diane Nukuri-Johnson.
Her dominance in the Alliant Energy 8K continued Wednesday with an easy victory in the women’s division of the annual Fourth of July road race.
Nukuri-Johnson, a University of Iowa graduate, showed she has no problem running in front of a home crowd. Spectators cheered loudly as she was announced and were ecstatic later when she was announced as the female champion.
Her time of 25 minutes, 48 seconds set a race record, besting the 25:55 time recorded by Kris Ihle in 1997 on a different course.
Nukuri-Johnson’s record-setting effort came on a warm morning. According to KCRG-TV9, the temperature was 76 degrees at 7 a.m. when the starting gun sounded. It had jumped to 80 degrees by 8.
“With this heat and humidity, there was a lot of adversity that we all had to overcome,” Nukuri-Johnson said. “I had heavy legs when we started, and I was trying to focus on staying in a pod for the first half of the race. The bad part about the weather is that it just got hotter as we went on.”
She credits her training as the key to conquering the elements.
“Even though it’s hot out there, this is what I’ve been getting ready for,” she said. “I knew it was going to be this warm, and I tried my best to prepare for that.”
Despite all of her preparation, she was almost undone by an unexpected incident about halfway through the course.
“At one of the water stations I almost collided with another runner, which would have been a mess,” she said. “Luckily, I was able to pull ahead after that and I finished strong.”
This was Nukuri-Johnson’s final race before traveling to London for the Summer Olympic Games, where she will run in the marathon for her home country of Burundi.
Other notable female finishers included Erin Moeller of Mount Vernon, who was 10th overall in 28:49 and the top Iowan, and Stephanie Jenks, 14, of Aurora, who was 12th overall in 30:17.
For full results, visit www.fifthseasonrace.com