Letherby takes men’s half marathon, Ozaki claims women’s crown.
SEATTLE – Cheerleaders and live bands lined the course Saturday morning as more than 27,000 participants ran from Tukwila to Seattle for the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & ½ Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society.
With a fully-loaded elite field running the half marathon, it was Jynocel Basweti of Kenya who broke away from the lead pack at the 35K mark in the marathon to claim victory in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 19 seconds. Basweti, who finished fourth here last year, claimed his fourth marathon victory in 2010 on Saturday. He has been training in New Mexico with the AmeriKenyan Running Club and is coached by 2000 U.S. Olympic triathlete Ryan Bolton.
“Seattle is so fantastic, so green, the spectators and cheering was so nice,” said Basweti, who didn’t enter the race until Wednesday. “I ran here last year, it was my first time and I didn’t know the route. This year I had the knowledge about the course. At halfway, I thought this marathon was going to be between three guys, so when we got out of the tunnel (Battery Street) I knew I needed to make my move.”
The women’s marathon was won by Oregon’s Sopagna Eap in 2:43:05, a time that qualifies her for the 2012 Olympic Trials. It was the first big city marathon victory for Eap, a Division II All-American at U.C. Davis, who recently finished her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon.
“It’s really exciting,” said Eap, who ran alone for most of the race. “This was my first Rock ‘n’ Roll and the bands kept it interesting and the crowds were awesome. I was injured twice this year and I’m not running the times I was supposed to run, but I can’t complain about winning.”
A lead pack of five men led the half marathon through 9 miles, when American Patrick Rizzo pushed the pace and only Australia’s Andrew Letherby chose to stay with him. Letherby made his move with about a mile to go, opening up a 30-meter gap to win the race in 1:04:55, the second fastest half marathon ever run in the state of Washington, according to Running USA. Japan’s Mari Ozaki won the women’s race in 1:10:52.
“At ten miles I knew I could win,” said Letherby, who represented Australia in the marathon at last summer’s World Championships in Berlin. “My last race was in the humidity of Washington D.C. and I live at altitude, so this was perfect weather. It’s an awesome course with a nice variation of hills and flat. I’d like to come back and do it again. I felt great. I’ve been incorporating a lot of cycling into my training, so it’s been good to give my body a rest. I’m cycling 150 miles a week, running 70-80 miles a week and it seems to be working so far.”
The race kicked off Seattle’s annual Seafair Summer Celebration and welcomed more than 27,000 entrants from all 50 states and 23 countries to The Emerald City. Seattle City Council members Richard Conlin and Sally Bagshaw, along with King County Council members Jan Drago and Julia Patterson, participated in the half marathon.
“Seattle’s hospitality community is excited to have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon back for another year,” said Tom Norwalk, President & CEO of Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, who competed in the half marathon for the second consecutive year. “The race provides the region with vital economic impact, attracting thousands of participants from outside the state who book hotel rooms, dine in restaurants and tour local attractions.”
Dodge will become the title sponsor of this event next year. The third annual Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon is set for Saturday, June 25.