Tuesday, October 5, 2010

San Jose Half

On a perfect autumn morning in the Bay Area, reigning ING New York City Marathon champion and 2004 Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi defended his title at the 2010 Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon, crossing the finish line in 1 hour, 1 minute, 45 seconds.

Keflezighi (left, PhotoRun), 35, with Mammoth Track Club teammate Patrick Smyth setting the pace, opened up a lead within the first three miles, hitting the 5K mark at 14:20. The 20-time USA champion never looked back, keeping a significant lead straight to the finish. As he looks ahead to the ING New York City Marathon on November 7, the 2009 champion of both races says he is hoping for a double repeat performance.

"I felt strong and maintained," Keflezighi said. "My training is coming along as planned and I hope it goes the same. This is the race I really enjoy though. New York will be all business."

Teammates Brian Medigovich and Paul Hefferon, representing the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project of Rochester Hills, Michigan, came in second and third, running 1:04:55 and 1:05:55, respectively.

Blake Russell, 35, who represented the U.S. in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, made a successful return to racing after the birth of her first child, winning the women's race in a solid 1:11:55.

"It's so exciting because it's hard to win a race as an elite and you really learn to cherish it," she said. "It was a learning experience and definitely mentally tougher than I expected but you keep pushing. The course was great and the music and spectators definitely helped."

She took the lead early and said she achieved her goal of staying under a 5:30 pace. Coming in behind Russell were 49-year-old Linda Somers Smith (1:13:31) and Rachel Booth (1:14:46). Somers Smith's time is a pending U.S. 45-49 age group record.

The sold-out half-marathon celebrated its 5th edition with 13,000 participants, the largest field in the race's history. Thousands of spectators joined in the fun, cheering enthusiastically along the course. The day was capped off with a post-race concert in Plaza de Cesar Chavez by the platinum selling band Blues Traveler.

Race founder and three-time Super Bowl champion Roger Craig took part, running a 1:45:25. Taking in the scene, Craig expressed pride at the event's growth over the past 5 years.

"The energy out there today was amazing," he said. "It was a smooth race and I talked to so many runners who were impressed with how well organized it was. It's really neat to see this city embracing the event. San Jose knows how to party."

Next year Dodge will become title sponsor of the race's sixth edition. The 2011 Dodge Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon is set for Sunday, October 2.

5th Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half-Marathon
San Jose, CA, Sunday, October 3, 2010

1) Meb Keflezighi (CA), 1:01:45
2) Brian Medigovich (MI), 1:04:55
3) Paul Hefferon (MI), 1:05:55
4) Daniel Tapia (CA), 1:06:46
5) Kevin Castille (LA), 1:06:47

1) Blake Russell (CA), 1:11:55
2) Linda Somers Smith, 49, CA, 1:13:31*
3) Rachel Booth (CA), 1:14:46
4) Annie Bersagel (CA), 1:16:28
5) Lauren Johnson (CA), 1:16:43
*pending U.S. 45-59 age group record (previous, 1:18:12, Lee DiPietro (MD), Philadelphia Distance Run, 09/21/03)

Complete results, photos, videos and more at: http://san-jose.competitor.com