CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK — Buoyed by an inspirational boost from his 11-year-old daughter, Sergio Morales made a serendipitous return to the Crater Lake marathon on a cold, rainy Saturday.
The 29-year-old Morales returned after having missed the race a year ago because of injury, still ran with pain but turned in the eighth fastest marathon time in the 44-year history of the longest race in the Crater Lake trio of events.
He also became the first male to win the marathon four times.
Oh, his daughter, Esperansa, did well, too, and in her first ever race at Crater Lake finished third overall, and was the first female to finish the 6.7-mile race.
“My goal was to come back healthy,” Morales said of Saturday’s race.
While training for a 50-mile trail race a year ago, he was hit by a car. When the tire ran over his foot, he suffered several broken bones, and he said there times Saturday when a couple of bones bothered him in his race.
At about the 18-mile point, Morales said he felt pain.
Still, his finish of two hours, 47 minutes and seven seconds was the fastest Carter Lake marathon in a decade.
“I wanted to get 2:45, and came very close,” he said.
“Mentally, it was tough. Anything can happen. You lose a little confidence because of an injury, but I have been surrounded by a lot of good people, and my daughter helped. It’s hard to be negative with so much positive around you.”
His goal had been to win the marathon four straight times.
The injury ended that.
Morales now has won four of the last five Crater Lake marathons.
“This was getting back on track, and it’s tough at Crater Lake,” Morales said, “but this was awesome. I’m relieved. I’m thankful to be back. It’s kind of surreal.”
Adding to the emotion for the marathon winner was the record-setting effort of his daughter.
Esperansa was third overall in 40 minutes, 42 seconds.
Her goal was 40 minutes.
“Coach (Rob) Coffman said that if I wanted to run the 6.7, I could, and I wasn’t doing anything,” the 11-year-old said. “With cross country coming, I figured: ‘Why not?’”
In becoming the first female to finish the shortest of the three Saturday races, she also became the youngest winner, male or female, of any Crater Lake event. Just a few months ago, while still 10, she became the youngest person to win Medford’s Pear Blossom Run.
Saturday’s race was a bit different.
“That first big hill (which every runner faced Saturday), took a lot out of me,” Esperansa said. “I was able to get my composure back, but that last hill (to finish the race) hurt. I still got my goal.”
The two ran together throughout Esperansa’s race.
Morales then took off, ran by Ben Blake who was the early leader who won the 13-mile race, and then easily captured the marathon to eclipse the tie he had been in with Alden Glidden (1980, 1982, 1984) and Martin Balding (1979, 1986, 1994) for most marathon wins.
■ The Crater Lake marathon record is 2:38:35, set by Ethiopian Bekele Tesfaye in 1997.
■ Glidden has two of the seven times which are better than Morales’ winning time Saturday.
■ Only three other runners have won the marathon twice — Richard Stewart, Bob Shorrock and Chuck Engle.
■ The only other person to win the marathon four times was Jeanne Otteman, who won the women’s race four straight times (1979-82).
■ Leonard Hill of Klamath Falls has five overall titles at Crater Lake — winning the marathon once (1984, tied Glidden), the 13-mile race twice (1978, 1990) and the 6.7-mile race twice (1987, 1997).