Photo Finish Decides Texas Showdown for First Time Half-Marathoners

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Heads to the Las Vegas Strip in December

San Antonio, TX – November 16, 2009 – A Texas-sized field of half-marathon runners took to San Antonio’s streets for the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon Sunday. Leading the 20,02o half-marathon finishers, were two Texans who arrived at the finish line less than one second apart. 

After racing the entire 13.1 mile distance stride-for-stride, Westly Keating, a University of Texas Pan American graduate out of Pharr, TX edged out Texas A&M Corpus Christie grad Shadrack Songok of Kenya by less than a full body width at the Alamodome finish line. Both runners, making their half-marathon debuts, finished with identical times of 1:05:24.

“It feels good,” said Keating, after his first road racing victory.  “But given the conditions, I was a little concerned with the marathoners having to follow. I thought he (Songok) had better leg speed, so I tried to push the pace early.”

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Currently a high school Chemistry teacher, Keating was a five-time collegiate all-American at the University of Texas Pan-American. He and Shongok broke away from the other half-marathon runners after mile two, setting the pace for the lead marathon pack over the first 10 miles. Both runners are veterans on the track over 10,000 meters, each having run sub 28:25 in college.

34 year-old California resident and pre-race favorite Josh Cox finished third in 1:06:44. Cox, who set the American record over 50 kilometers at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona in January, was using the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio ½ Marathon as his final tune-up for the California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 6.

“I’m not a great runner in the humidity,” Cox told the San Antonio Express-News after the race. “But everyone has to run in it.  I came here for a good work out and I definitely got one.”

In the women's half marathon race in San Antonio, Mary Davies won with a time of 1:18:16. (Credit: Victah Sailor)

Houston’s Mary Davies, 27, won the women’s half-marathon with a 1:18:16. Defending ‘Texas Showdown’ champion Melisa Christian of Dallas finished second in 1:18:31. Allison Macsas of Austin rounded out the top three in the half-marathon with a time of 1:18:58.

“It was a little humid,” said Davies, who is originally from New Zealand but now lives and trains in Houston. “Some of the marathoners who train in Seattle or up north said it was a lot harder.”

San Antonio resident Daniel Jess won the ‘Texas Showdown’ for the marathon in a time of 2:36.58. Jess, who finished fourth at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in August, was well off his pre-race goal of breaking 2:25, but did manage to finish after dropping out of the October 11th Chicago Marathon at 18 miles in near-freezing temperatures reminiscent of inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio in 2008.

“The conditions out there were tough,” he said, not knowing for sure if he was the first Texan to cross the finish line. “Nobody passed me over the last half of the race, I just tried to run my pace. It was a great event; I’m looking forward to improving my time at my next marathon.”

 Jess, who took home $2,000 for the ‘Texas Showdown’ along with $500 as the top finisher from Bexar County, won the race on his mother’s birthday and his wife Lindsay   is expecting the couple’s first child.

“I did it for them,” Jess added.

Kate Brown, 31, of San Antonio, TX won the women’s ‘Texas Showdown’ for the marathon. Her time of 3:01:50 was good for ninth place overall and third U.S. finisher. 

After a sold-out field of 32,000 entrants in San Antonio, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series heads to Las Vegas on Sunday, December 6 for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon. Over 25,000 runners are expected to rock world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard as the entire 13.1-mile half-marathon course will run on the Las Vegas Strip. The event will feature the world’s largest contingent of Running Elvi, a run-through wedding chapel, as well as an elite field of international Olympic athletes.

For more information, or to register for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, please visit

Both runners, making their half-marathon debuts, finished with identical times of 1:05:24. (Credit: Victah Sailor)

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